ming movie reviews

in about 100 words or less

Der Letzte Mann (1924)

Germany 101m, silent B&W
Director: F. W. Murnau; Cast: Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Max Hiller; Emilie Kurz; Hans Unterkircher

The Last Laugh is a deceptively simple film which follows the incomparable Emile Jannings as a proud hotel doorman who is demoted to a bathroom attendant because of his advancing years and ailing health. Faced with public humiliation, the former doorman steals his uniform and wears it home to hide the truth from friends and family. Murnau’s uncanny ability to tell a story without the use of inter-titles and Karl Freund’s groundbreaking camerawork stand in stark contrast to the simplicity of this screenplay. Their extraordinary technique is highlighted when we see the drunken doorman’s point of view through the use of fluid camera movement and a distorted lens which effectively transforms an otherwise mundane story into a masterpiece of silent film-making  (Klaus Ming February 2010).

3 comments on “Der Letzte Mann (1924)

  1. klausming

    Of additional note is the fact that the level of realism in the plot is shattered near the end of the story with an unexpected turn of events when the film’s only inter-title hilariously declares: “Here the story should really end, for, in real life, the forlorn old man would have little to look forward to but death. The author took pity on him and has provided a quite improbable epilogue” – leading to a comical albeit unnecessary alternative happy ending.

  2. TSorensen

    Clearly a case of a director rebelling against the dictate of the producer. That ending is so ridiculous and artificial that it seems like a slap on the face of the evil producer. Or the reaction of a spoiled child who are not allowed to get his way.

    • Klaus

      I’d only learned of the difficulties of the project after viewing the film – definitely explains a lot!

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This entry was posted on 02/23/2010 by in 1001 List, 1920s, All and tagged .
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