Remade (in more impressive form) as The American Soldier later the same year, Fassbinder's early gangster movie is slow, absurd, and quite mesmerising. Baer's the pretty criminal 'hero' who gradually sinks back into his underworld ways by hanging around with the wrong types: card-playing crooks and layabouts with trenchcoats and ever-present cigarettes, fickle molls hanging languorously on the sidelines. Any social comment is implicit rather than explicit, the world depicted is related more closely to classic American noir than any contemporary reality, and there is very little plot indeed. But it's a witty, stylish meditation on the genre, filtered through the decidedly dark and morbid sensibility of its director.
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