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Chief among those surprised by word from Wim Wenders’ lawyers that his company, Road Movies Filmproduktion GmbH, was terminating all world distribution agreements with Argos Films S.A. was Anatole Dauman, Argos topper and longtime Wenders backer.

When asked Wednesday for comment by Daily Variety, Dauman exclaimed: “This is the first time I have heard of such a thing.

If it is true, then I might have to take legal action. This would hurt me; I don’t like to take legal action against a genius.”

A lawyer for Argos claimed the information contained in the Jan. 20 lawyers’ statement was “false and defamatory.” Wenders’ lawyers at Unverzagt Broszehl declined to elaborate.

Co-producer and distributor, along with Road Movies, of several Wenders’ classics including “The American Friend,””Wings of Desire” and “Until the End of the World,” Argos Films was not involved in the latest Wenders’ flick, “Faraway, So Close,” which Road Movies co-produced and distributed with Tobis Film. Released late last year, the pricey “Wings of Desire” sequel was a B.O. flop.

Dauman denies there were any misunderstandings or hurt feelings resulting from his dissociation with the latest Wenders film. “The budget on ‘Faraway’ just seemed to me to be too high. We made ‘Wings of Desire’ with a small budget, and I didn’t feel it necessary to invest so much to make a masterpiece.”

Wenders, one of Germany’s few film celebrities, is known in cinema circles here not only for his enormous talent but also for his temper. He’s also known for his ardent defense of subsidies for European cinema.