Hard to believe that Fassbinder went from making stuff like this to stuff like "The Bitter Tears of Petra Von Kant" within just a couple of years. The talent is there, but he learned very quickly how to use it to mold far more spectacular and penetrating works throughout his remarkably prolific career.
This film more than his others feels like a bit of a pastiche; more exercise than inspiration. (Though the scene with the Nonsense Song & the ravioli is among the finest on film.) The Franz character is, as always, a shamelessly revealing stand-in for F. himself… Not among his masterpieces (it drags at the start, e.g.) but visually great and, anyway... Fassbinder.
Fassbinder hates hollywood, hollywood gangster movies, and you! With this movie in goes back to what worked with "Love is Colder than Death" and does it even uglier and more smug while at the same time adding more inspired flourish than feels very Max Ophuls. The formal beauty and detachment of the movie kept me engaged to the bitter-bitter end.
I watched Fassbinder's "gangster" trilogy over a bottle of wine last night. For some reason I saved this one for last (I really should've seen it second) and by the end I couldn't remember which actors were playing characters and whether they had appeared elsewhere in the trilogy. That made for a confusing experience.