A disenchanted, veteran actor goes AWOL while shooting a B movie and looks up his estranged mother. There he hears the revelation that a pregnant woman with whom he had a fling came looking for him years earlier. He sets out to find her.


Howard Spence (Sam Shepard) was once a rugged, good-looking movie star of Westerns. At 60, he is a washed-up actor with too many addictions. We meet Howard at a moment of existential crisis. He takes off from a film set, mid production, of yet another Western.

The film’s financiers, in desperation, send a 'bounty hunter", Sutter (Tim Roth) to track Howard down, bring him back and force him to fulfil his acting contract. In his bid to escape, Howard visits his mother (Eva Marie Saint) who he hasn’t seen in 15 years, in Elko, Nevada.

During the stop over, Howard learns that 20 years ago in Butte, Montana, he fathered a son, Earl (Gabriel Mann), to an old sweetheart, Doreen (Jessica Lange).

When Sutter tracks Howard down in Nevada, Howard is once again forced to take off. With nowhere else to go, Howard travels to Butte Montana, believing that perhaps his long-lost son may be his salvation. However, his reunion with both Doreen and his son, Earl, does not prove smooth.

Earl, now 19, is a musician with an explosive temper and an equally explosive relationship with his girlfriend, Amber (Fairuza Balk). Earl does not welcome his new-found father’s approaches.

Howard’s life is further complicated when he meets a young woman, Sky (Sarah Polley), about the same age as Earl, whose revelations further disrupt his life. Confused, Howard tries to make sense of this new world and figure his place in it. In surreal moments, reminiscent of Wim Wender’s oeuvre, Howard contemplates lost-opportunities and potential futures.

The panoramic and empty American landscape of Don’t Come Knocking, is inhabited by individuals deeply scared by regret, estrangement and loneliness. The characters appear larger than life, more iconic than 'real’, suggesting an existential condition, not born of individual histories but rather, symptomatic of a broader malaise inherent in American life.

Don’t Come Knocking is the second collaboration for writer, Sam Shepard and director, Wim Wenders. Their first collaboration on Paris, Texas won the prestigious Palme d’Or at Cannes.
(Reviewed by Tinzar Lwyn)

Wim Wenders (director/co-screenplay) was born in Germany weeks after the end of World War II, and helped to re-define the German cinema and produce some of the most impressive creative work every captured on film. Part of the same broad cultural trend in post-war Germany that also included fellow filmmakers Fassbinder and Herzog and playwright Peter Handke, Wenders early short films reflected both his own native German roots and a deep appreciation for American cinematic and cultural traditions. His first feature Summer in the City was followed by the screen adaptation of Handke's short story, The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, an existential mystery that is considered one of his most influential films. The films he made in Germany in the 1970s include The Scarlet Letter, Alice in the Cities, The Wrong Move, Kings of the Road, and The American Friend which starred Dennis Hopper.

Wenders is equally adept at the documentary tradition as he is with dramatic works, making his first feature documentary in 1980 with Lightning Over Water, a portrait of American filmmaker Nicholas Ray; later, Wenders' Tokyo-Ga would be a meditation on Japan as seen through the films of Yasujiro Ozu, another of Wenders' cinematic heroes; while Buena Vista Social Club, about a reunion of retired Cuban musicians, earned an Oscar nomination for Best Documentary Feature.

Working in America for the first time in 1982, Wenders made Hammett starring Frederic Forrest and the cleverly self-reflexive The State of Things before scoring his biggest critical success to date with Paris, Texas, written by Sam Shepard. The film swept the major awards at the Cannes Film Festival and earned Wenders a BAFTA Award for Best Director.

His next major feature, Der Himmel uber Berlin (Wings of Desire), written by Wenders and Peter Handke, was equally successful and is regarded by many film critics as one of the most influential and creative films ever made. The epic Until the End of the World followed before Wenders made a sequel to Wings with Faraway, So Close! His lifelong love for music is evident by his numerous recent concert projects with Willie Nelson and U2 and his direction of The Soul of a Man for the PBS series The Blues; and his recent feature film credits include The End of Violence, The Million Dollar Hotel and Land of Plenty.

Feature Films (extract)

  • 1971 Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter - Prize of the Film Critics, Venice

  • 1973 Alice in den Städten

  • 1976 Im Laufe der Zeit

  • 1977 Der Amerikanische Freund - German Film Prize/Gold (director) & Silver (production)

  • 1982 Der Stand der Dinge - Golden Lion/FIPRESCI Prize, Venice & German Film Prize Silver

  • 1984 Paris, Texas - Golden Palm, Cannes & British Academy Award & Prize of the French Film Critics

  • 1987 Der Himmel über Berlin - Prize for Best Director, Cannes & European Film Prize

  • 1989 Aufzeichnungen zu Kleidern und Städten

  • 1991 Bis ans Ende der Welt - Guild Prize in Gold (Best German Film)

  • 1993 In weiter Ferne, so nah! - Grand Jury Prize, Cannes & Bavarian Film Prize (Director)

  • 1994 Lisbon Story Lisbonne Story

  • 1997 The End of Violence

  • 1998 The Buena Vista Social Club - Award for Best Documentary, NY & LA & Academy Award Nominations

  • 2000 The Million Dollar Hotel - Silver Bear, Berlin Film Festival

  • 2003 The Blues Series: The Soul of a Man

  • 2004 Land of Plenty

  • 2005 Don't Come Knocking

ABOUT SAM SHEPARD SAM SHEPARD (Howard Spence/screenplay) is regarded as one of the most brilliant and imaginative playwrights in the contemporary American theatre, and is well-known to film audiences with a career's worth of memorable screen roles on his resume.

As a young man, Shepard worked as a stable hand, herdsman, orange picker, sheep shearer, bus boy, waiter and musician before turning his attention to playwriting in 1964, winning an Obie Award in 1965. His more well-known plays include "The Curse of the Starving Class," "Buried Child" (for which Shepard won the Pulitzer Prize), "True West," "A Lie of the Mind," and "Simpatico," and are among the most produced works of contemporary American drama in the last twenty years.

Although he is well-known for his avant-garde renderings of the American landscape, his grotesquely realistic characters offer performers some of the most memorable and challenging roles on both stage and screen. His screenplay for Wim Wenders' "Paris, Texas" won the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1984, and he also penned the screenplay for memorable films such as Antonioni's "Zabriskie Point"; "Far North" and "Silent Tongue", both of which he directed; and the adaptations for filmed versions of his own "True West" and "Fool for Love."

As an actor, Shepard made his debut in a film he wrote - the Bob Dylan-directed "Reynaldo and Clara" in 1978. He later played the lead in "Fool for Love," but otherwise Shepard has largely avoided performing in his own work. His numerous credits include Terence Malick's acclaimed "Days of Heaven," "Resurrection," "Raggedy Man," "Baby Boom," "Steel Magnolias," "Thunderheart," "The Pelican Brief," "Snow Falling on Cedars," "All the Pretty Horses," "Blackhawk Down" and "The Notebook."
Shepard met his long-time companion Jessica Lange when the two appeared together in "Frances" in 1982. The two also co-starred in "Country" and "Crimes of the Heart," and Shepard directed Lange in "Far North." Shepard was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as Chuck Yeager in "The Right Stuff" in 1983. He has also made numerous appearances in made-for-television films, including Larry McMurtry's "The Streets of Laredo" and as Dashiell Hammett in A&E's award-winning "Dash and Lily," which earned Shepard an Emmy and a Golden Globe nomination.

Shepard will also appear in the upcoming thriller "Stealth" with Jessica Biel and Jamie Foxx, the action-comedy "Bandidas" with Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz, and the horror film "Revolver" with Sarah Michelle Gellar.

SAM SHEPARD 'The story is about so many things"¦It's about estrangement more than anything. It's about this strange, American sadness that I find, the alone-ness they feel.
We don't know each other in America, we don't even know who we are, we just don't. I'm haunted by that American character, and that strange, strange lack of identity."

'Writing with Sam is a very special procedure. Sam doesn't think in terms of "plot", at least not at the outset. He is strictly concerned with "character".
It took us a while to come up with Howard. And when we saw Howard in front of us, Sam started to write the first scenes. And then our procedure would be: I would have to read the pages, we would go through them and discuss them, make adjustments, and only then we could think about the next scene. Not the rest of the story, oh no!, only what would happen next. And then Sam would have to write that, I would have to read it, and then we would move on to the next scene afterwards.
The script writing process took place in total continuity! Scene after scene, without ever breaking out and thinking ahead. That is an extraordinary process, and quite demanding for the director. You really learn to be patient, I tell you!
But you also learn to rely on your characters, and on nothing else. This way you can be sure your story is entirely character-driven, all the way to the end."

Buena Vista Social Club
The End of Violence


2 hours 2 min