Gods of the Plague, Fassbinder’s third feature, is an extended, Godard-like hommage to the American gangster movie; with Love is Colder Than Death and The American Soldier, it forms part of a loose trilogy of French New Wave-style gangster films made by Fassbinder early in his career. Harry Baer stars as small-time hood recently released from prison; Hanna Schygulla and Margarethe von Trotta co-star as the two women who love him and betray him. The film is full of pitiable characters who, like Belmondo in Godard's Breathless, attempt to emulate the tough-guy screen idols of Hollywood. It climaxes with a celebrated shoot-out sequence staged amidst the well-stocked shelves of a supermarket — “a characteristic Fassbinder conjunction of banality and violence” (David Wilson). “Quite mesmerizing ... A witty, stylish meditation on the genre, filtered through the decidedly dark and morbid sensibility of its director" (Geoff Andrew, Time Out). “Impeccably performed ... Gods is the quintessential American gangster film if the quintessential American gangster film had been adapted and updated to accommodate a bunch of small-time Munich hoods” (Vincent Canby, New York Times). B&W, 35mm, in German with English subtitles. 91 mins.
"The quintessential American gangster film if the quintessential American ganster film had been adapted and updated to accommodate a bunch of small-time Munich hoods."New York Times | full review
"A witty, stylish meditation on the genre."Time Out | full review
"In Hanna Schygulla's conflicted chanteuse, Fassbinder channels for the first time the spirit of the infamous blond Venus Marlene Dietrich summoned so many times for Josef von Sternberg."Slant | full review