Far from Vietnam, indeed. Fassbinder's American soldier is actually a German, who comes home to roost as a hired killer in the Munich underworld. The miasma into which he sinks involves an ageing rent-boy whose time is up, a roving porn-shark-cum-supergrass called Magdalena Fuller, a mother with a pinball machine in her living-room, and a two-timing moll called Rosa von Praunheim. There is no attempt at plausibility, just a relentless insistence on mood (manic depressive) and behaviour patterns (ex-film noir). The gangsters in Fassbinder's earlier movies were sad, pale shadows of their American prototypes; by this time, they've become full-fledged Neuroses. In other words, this film marks a decisive step towards 'real' Fassbinder: the absurdity of its world of second-hand experience invests every cliché with a meaning it never had before.
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