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Weimar Germany
8.6
/10
1,499 Ratings

The Last Laugh

Der letzte Mann

Directed by F.W. Murnau
Germany, 1924
Drama, Silent
  • Silent
  • No subtitles
Weimar Germany

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.

Our take

We begin a new series devoted to masterpieces of the short-lived Weimar Republic with a dazzling and groundbreaking drama of modern city life. Emil Jannings delivers one of cinema’s most indelible of performances, and F.W. Murnau (Sunrise, Faust) gives the story its full range of tragedy and beauty.

The Last Laugh Directed by F.W. Murnau Watch now
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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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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