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4.3
1,275 Ratings

The Last Laugh

Der letzte Mann

Directed by F.W. Murnau
Germany, 1924
Drama

Synopsis

F.W. Murnau’s German silent classic Der letzte Mann depicts the tale of the elderly but proud doorman of a posh Berlin hotel. Demoted to polishing tiles beneath a sink, all seems lost—but appearances can be deceiving.

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The Last Laugh Directed by F.W. Murnau
Should the porter suddenly lose this uniform and the nebulous prestige it affords, what would become of him, not to mention that society in which so much can rest on so unstable a thing as pride? This seems to be the question at the sad yet sour heart of Der letzte Mann (The Last Laugh, F.W. Murnau, 1924), a film suffused with game-changing innovations and mixed sympathies.
June 27, 2018
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When modern filmmakers attempt to portray the plight of the poor, they often lean on condescendingly spare realist tropes, implying that impoverished people might not have the interiority that necessitates expressionism. By contrast, Murnau and Jannings viscerally define the porter’s mindscape, exploring his fantasies and shifting emotional states. Jannings is more than formidable enough to hold up to the formal trickery that Murnau and Freund employ throughout the film.
November 22, 2017
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Widely cited as the first film to employ a dolly shot, F.W. Murnau’s THE LAST LAUGH is much more than a formal milestone. It is, among other things, an inspired fusion of expressionism and psychological realism, employing a bounty of stylistic innovations to create a three-dimensional portrait of a working-poor hotel doorman, the sort of neglected urban figure who rarely assumes the central position in works of narrative art.
November 18, 2016
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What are people saying?

  • El Biffo's rating of the film The Last Laugh

    I have an old copy of the US release, but this beautiful restoration breathes new life into the crown jewel of the German "Kammerspiel" genre. Murnau sold out when he went to Hollywood, but there were few choices available to German film makers when the Nazis rose to power, and Goebbels "cleansed" the German film industry, which didn't recover til the 1970's. Only 4&1/2 stars because of the tacked-on happy ending.

  • EdieEmm's rating of the film The Last Laugh

    Extraordinary cinema. The stills alone are more expressive than most films are today. Jannings plays his character to the edge, but is perfectly balanced by Murnau's fine-tuned vision, and Freund's cinematographic grace. Devastating (enough that the silly ending got guilty pleasure points) for its relatability; plenty of ways, post-authority-fetish, for society to sell us our self-worth. 4.5

  • Stefan Drees's rating of the film The Last Laugh

    In spite of the affixed happy ending with its comedy-like moments the film is a stunning social drama with great camera work. Detlev Glanert did a great job in reconstructing and completing Giuseppe Becce's music.

  • rian's rating of the film The Last Laugh

    some people probably angry with the deus ex machina ending, but i like it, to show the possibility of what cinema can achieve. the 'authorship consciousness' even before the theory of auteur or camera-stylo existed.

  • msmichel's rating of the film The Last Laugh

    '02 restoration Murnau's silent classic ruminates on aging and the value of labour in its tale of a somewhat pompous hotel employee who suddenly finds himself demoted to washroom attendant and is met with scorn by his family and neighbours. What's fascinating is that the tale is told without any intertitle of dialogue. Unfortunately the film is near ruined by its tacked on studio requested happy ending.

  • Ethan's rating of the film The Last Laugh

    F.W. Murnau was one of the true great artists of the cinema. Through this film he was able to show every emotion without the use of words or inter-titles. Along with Emil Jannings devastating performance this is one of the best films to come out of the German Silent Era.

  • Gylfi's rating of the film The Last Laugh

    As much as I loved the first 72 minutes of the film, I think I have never hated any ending as much as this one. The camera movement is incredible, using no intertitles is very impressive and I liked Jannings over-the-top acting. Next time that I will watch this great film I will stop after 72 minutes, that should be the real ending !

  • Duncan Gray's rating of the film The Last Laugh

    Even before seeing this one, I'd heard that the ending sunk the film. But I'll stick up for it. Today, the sudden, self-reflexive reversal of fortune could seem too cutely postmodern, but cutely postmodern was ahead of the curve in 1924, and it all works thematically. After all, that's what the movies are best at: expressing our despair and curing our ills. One of the most beautiful accomplishments of the silent era.

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