In Fox And His Friends (Faustrecht der Freiheit), Franz (Reiner Werner Fassbinder) is a young man with the unglamorous job of dressing up as a “Fox” at a carnival to earn a living. His boyfriend, Klaus (Karl Scheydt), runs the carnival. When Klaus is arrested for tax fraud, Franz finds himself jobless. He turns to prostitution out of desperation to make ends meet. Ultimately frustrated, with nothing to lose, he buys a lottery ticket from a newspaper stand. His luck turns when he wins 500,000 Deutsche Marks.
Sometime later, Franz is at a party with his friend Max (Karlheinz Böhm). While mingling with the fashionable crowd, he is introduced to the handsome Eugen (Peter Chatel) who is intrigued by Franz’s sudden wealth, and he breaks up with his current boyfriend to embark on a romance with the transformed man. A sequence of events finds Eugen persuading Franz to buy an apartment for the two of them, an ill-advised 100,000-mark bank loan, lavish dinners and endless shopping (all of these care of Franz’s replenished wallet).
Disputes about the imbalanced financial situation threaten the couple’s bond. Disputes turn into full-on disagreements. Eugen proposes that Franz splurge on an all-expenses-paid (by Franz) vacation to Morocco so the two can work out their differences. Nevertheless, the debauchery continues, and their relationship remains mercurial. Once back in Germany, financial crises surmount. Eugen, fed up, decides to go on dates with Max, and gradually shuts Franz out of his life, ultimately locking him out of their shared apartment. Franz learns that Eugen has reunited with his old flame and the combined stress of paying back heady loans, of losing a boyfriend, of being kicked out of his own house, accumulates to become overwhelming. Franz has a nervous breakdown which leads him to overdose on sedatives.
“This particular film – and specifically the character of Fox – seems to be of tremendous significance to the director. The decision to cast himself in the lead (in addition to directing, producing and co-writing the screenplay) imbues the work with an emotional core that is notable when considering how the film fits into Fassbinder’s entire output as a director.”
— Senses Of Cinema
“Make no mistake, this is the real Queer as Folk, but for all of Fassbinder’s gripes with an elite gay culture’s many sexual hang-ups, Fox And His Friends is first and foremost a riveting evocation of social Darwinism in action.”
— Ed Gonzalez, Slant Magazine
Did You Know?
Reiner Werner Fassbinder’s LGBT drama Fox And His Friends (Faustrecht der Freiheit) holds a mirror to the economic state of Germany in the 1970s, wherein it was common to be scrupulous and self-interested to move up the social ladder. In an interview, the director stated that he wanted the epicenter of the piece to be the financial struggle of the working middle-class, and for Fox’s homosexuality and the portrayal of the German gay scene to add depth and resonance, rather than provide the thrust of the action. Review our Gay Themed Films Here