The first feature in the frantic career of Rainer Werner Fassbinder is, like Godard's debut Breathless, a nod to the traditional gangster movie. This time, however, the tough-guy attitudes are imparted to a trio of typical Fassbinder losers, slouching about in the drab underworld of Munich. They are played by Alain Delon lookalike Ulli Lommel (who poses in a trenchcoat and film noir fedora), Fassbinder himself, and the director's blond goddess Hanna Schygulla. The film works hard to subvert conventional notions of movie storytelling, with lots of loooong pauses and stylized gestures--and as such, feels more like a trial run than a full-blown Fassbinder meisterwork. But everywhere, in the insolent opening shot or the final thrilling cut from car interior to bleak landscape, you can sense the utter confidence that burbled out of this gifted German: he was only 23, and he was going places in a hurry. --Robert Horton
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