11/27/2014  
Day of the Mummy on DVD Dec 9Jeff Dunham's Very Special Christmas Special on DVD Dec 9Field Of Lost Shoes on DVD Dec 2What If on DVD & Blu-ray Nov 25Hart To Hart: Season 3 on DVD Dec 9The Simpsons: Season 17 on DVD & Blu-ray Dec 2Robin Williams Remembered - Pioneers of Television on DVD Dec 2

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

One Direction Score Fourth Number One Album With ‘Four’...
"Dancing with the Stars" season 19 crowns a winner ...
Day of the Mummy on DVD Dec 9...
Demi Lovato Talks Miley Cyrus: "I Have Nothing in Commo...
5 Things That Should Be In Katy Perry's Super Bowl Half...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
CREAM FAREWELL CONCERT...
JACK REACHER...
MANBORG...

CA Chuck Aliaga

THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
THE DEVIL'S BACKBONE (BLU-RAY)...
AIN'T IN IT FOR MY HEALTH: A FILM ABOUT LEVON HELM (BLU...
THE LADY (BLU-RAY)...
SWAMP THING (BLU-RAY)...

JS Jesse Shanks

2 BROKE GIRLS...
KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...
NORMAN MAILER: THE AMERICAN...
DARK SHADOWS: THE GREATEST EPISODES COLLECTION - FAN FA...
JACK KEROUAC - KING OF THE BEATS...

MZ Mark Zimmer

Take Part in a Film Restoration...
STORAGE WARS: SEASON ONE...
LOST KEATON...
BLACK NARCISSUS (BLU-RAY)...
THE LORD OF THE RINGS: THE MOTION PICTURE TRILOGY (BLU-...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...
BASEBALL'S GREATEST GAMES: 1986 WORLD SERIES GAME 6...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...
THE TROUBLE WITH TOLSTOY...
HISTORY OF THE WORLD IN TWO HOURS...
ANATOMY OF A MURDER...
BASIL DEARDEN'S LONDON UNDERGROUND (ECLIPSE SERIES 25)...

RR Rich Rosell

AFTER.LIFE...
NOTE BY NOTE: THE MAKING OF STEINWAY L1037...
VAMPIRE PARTY...
GIMME SHELTER (BLU-RAY)...
THE CREW...

JC Joel Cunningham

WINGS OF DESIRE...
A CHARLIE BROWN CHRISTMAS...
MONSOON WEDDING...
PIERROT LE FOU...
SMALLVILLE: THE COMPLETE EIGHTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
MANAGEMENT...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...

DH Dan Heaton

NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
THE FRIENDS OF EDDIE COYLE...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

JU Jeff Ulmer

THE WALTONS: THE COMPLETE 9TH SEASON...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Wellspring presents
The American Soldier (1970)

"There's no labor union for what I do. If someone rats on me, I'm finished."
- Ricky (Karl Scheydt)

Review By: Jon Danziger   
Published: December 08, 2002

Stars: Karl Scheydt, Elga Sorbas, Jan George, Margarethe von Trotta, Ingrid Caven, Kurt Raab
Other Stars: Marius Aicher, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Hark Bohm
Director: Rainer Werner Fassbinder

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nudity, violence, some rough language)
Run Time: 01h:19m:47s
Release Date: November 19, 2002
UPC: 720917533926
Genre: foreign


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B B-B-B C

DVD Review

Rainer Werner Fassbinder died too young, in 1982, of a drug overdose; he was all of 37 years old, and one can only speculate as to the work he might have gone on to do. His was one of the first great recognizable voices of a generation of Germans born after the Second World War, and he's best known for films like The Marriage of Maria Braun and Lili Marleen, and for the epic television miniseries Berlin Alexanderplatz. What would his peculiar sensibility have made of, say, the end of the Cold War, the reunification of Germany, the changing face of European identity? As those questions can only remain unanswered, we'll have to settle instead for his considerable body of work—he made forty-four films in his short professional life, and one of the earliest now comes to DVD. The American Soldier is the young German filmmaker's homage to the American gangster films he grew up watching, and many of the elements of them reappear here, given a rather eccentric and distinctive spin.

The movie is all about the mood and the style of it, but there's some small semblance of a story: Ricky (Karl Scheydt) is back in his hometown of Munich after spending an unspecified number of years in the U.S., and in Vietnam, and now he's a killer for hire with an immaculately tailored double-breasted suit. The local police engage his services, to rub out some criminal types that they cannot nail by conventional means—Ricky happily goes into their employ, and is especially fond of pushing back the brim of his fedora with the barrel of his gun, a gesture he no doubt picked up while watching things like The Petrified Forest.

The lead, Ricky, is clearly modeled on American movie gangsters of a certain period, exemplified by James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart—women throw themselves at him because he's just irresistible, and though he's got an eye for the dames, he'd much rather cool his heels with a long stare and a good slug of Ballantine's. You can sense that Fassbinder is having fun inhabiting the conventions of American moviemaking, but for U.S. audiences especially, this frequently feels more like a pale imitation than a re-imagining of a familiar genre. It's so slavishly imitative at times that it's in tight shots of things like pornographic playing cards that keep the whole exercise from tilting into the parodic territory of something like Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid.

The movie is actually at its best and weirdest when it's on less traveled terrain, and dealing with issues that the director found deeply fascinating and disturbing. Ricky pays a visit to his family, and there's more than a hint at an incestuous relationship with his mother; also, his brother has thinly disguised and smoldering lust for Ricky, which seems to have been transferred in his brother's absence to Mom. The inevitable shootout ends with, in death, the strangely writhing bodies of two men, in a bizarre and disturbing fusion of sex and violence.

The director appears on screen as well, in a pivotal role, and Fassbinder's efforts at being a Renaissance man extend even to the soundtrack—he composed a song, with lyrics in English, called So Much Tenderness, but the heavily accented singer makes it sound a little odd to Anglophone ears. One lyric is: "So much tenderness is in my heart," but it sounds much more like: "So much tenderness is in my hat."

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Fassbinder was clearly looking to reproduce the contrasty, black & white style of American pulp gangster pictures, and he's largely successful; there are more than a few scratches on the print, though, and debris interferes with the image quality with some consistency, suggesting both that the negative hasn't worn well with the years and that it wasn't transferred to DVD as carefully as it might have been. It's certainly more adequately presented, at least.

Image Transfer Grade: B-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Germanyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Germanyes


Audio Transfer Review: Both audio tracks are reasonably clean, with the 5.1 track sounding a little richer. There's a good amount of ambient noise, though, and some low-level buzzing and hissing, which are made even more pronounced because Fassbinder's use of a musical score is sparing, at best.

Audio Transfer Grade: B

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 16 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English
Cast and Crew Filmographies
Weblink/DVD-ROM Material
Packaging: generic plastic keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Insert booklet with essay on Fassbinder by Thomas Elsaesser
Extras Review: You've got to love a DVD that comes with its own footnotes. That's what you'll find in the enclosed booklet, with an essay by Thomas Elsaesser, a Dutch film professor; his piece is an overview of Fassbinder's career, and places particular emphasis on the director's fondness for the films of Douglas Sirk. But this film bears the stamp of the influence of Howard Hawks much more than Sirk; if it's a Sirk-influenced movie you want, of course, check out Far From Heaven, and its overt homages to things like All That Heaven Allows and Written On The Wind.

Filmographies are provided for Fassbinder and five of the lead actors; weblinks are to five sites devoted to the director, and to the website of Wellspring, the DVD distributor.

Extras Grade: C

 

Final Comments

The American Soldier feels more like a young filmmaker going to school on the old masters than it does like a fully realized work of art in its own right. It does bear Fassbinder's distinctive touch in many respects, though, and fans of the director will no doubt be pleased to see this relatively unknown early work come to DVD.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

music, one direction, four, take me home, midnight memories, taylor swift’s 1989, television, dancing with the stars, alfonso ribeiro, witney carson, sadie robertson, mark ballas, janel parrish, val chmerkovskiy, horror, celebrity, demi lavato, miley cyrus, the tj show, heart attack, sonny with a chance, disney channel stars, sports, katy perry, superbowl, half time, comedy, drama, saturday night live, michael che, bill cosby, cameron diaz, beyonce, 7/11, american music awards, sunday, movie, hunger games: mockingjay-part 1, danny strong, christian toto, john nolte, sarah seltzer, documentary, action, foo fighters, beat the bots tour, 2015, sonic highways, fenway park in boston, wrigley field in chicago, citi field in new york, rfk stadium in washington d.c., chris pratt, guardians of the galaxy, dave chappelle, shailene woodley, ansel elgort, steve carell, michael sam, judi dench, esio trot, bbc, philomena, dustin hoffman, richard curtis, sci-fi, james bond, christoph waltz, daniel craig, ralph fiennes, ben whishaw, naomie harris, patrick schwarzenegger, adore you, arnold schwarzenegger, maria schriver, family, the big bang theory, mrs. wolowitz, carol ann susi, breast cancer, jennifer actress, plunging neckline

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too

Visit:

Zarabesque.com

earth mosaics

Original Magic Dress.com

Susti Heaven

DVD Marketplace

Snappy Planet

Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact
Microsoft Store