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The Last Command (1928)

7.9
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,755 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 27 critic

A former Imperial Russian general and cousin of the Czar ends up in Hollywood as an extra in a movie directed by a former revolutionary.

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Title: The Last Command (1928)

The Last Command (1928) on IMDb 7.9/10

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Won 1 Oscar. Another 1 win & 1 nomination. See more awards »
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Young Princess Sophia of Germany is taken to Russia to marry the half-wit Grand Duke Peter, son of the Empress. The domineering Empress hopes to improve the royal blood line. Sophia doesn't... See full summary »

Director: Josef von Sternberg
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
Gen. Dolgorucki / Grand Duke Sergius Alexander
...
Natalie Dabrova
...
Lev Andreyev
Jack Raymond ...
Assistant Director
Nicholas Soussanin ...
The Adjutant
Michael Visaroff ...
Serge (the valet)
Fritz Feld ...
A Revolutionist
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Storyline

A decorated, aristocratic Czarist General is reduced to penury after the collapse of Imperial Russia. An old adversary, now a successful director hires the general to re-enact the revolution which deposed him. Written by W. Louis <wlouis@ego.psych.mcgill.ca>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

EMIL JANNINGS -- World's finest dramatic actor in a brilliant successor to "The Way of all Flesh" -- and "Variety." You'll be amazed with Janning's tremendous role of the mighty general!...with men...women...a whole nation at his feet! Through flaming love...adoration...hate! To...! The most terrific climax the screen has ever known!

Genres:

Drama | History | Romance | War

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

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Release Date:

24 September 1928 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

The Last Command  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Based on the life of General Lodijensky, a former general in the Russian army of Czar Nicholas, who fled Russia after the 1917 Communist revolution and wound up in Hollywood, where he worked for a while as a movie extra. See more »

Quotes

Member of General Staff: [Listening at the door to what he perceives to be the Duke's seduction of Natali] That sort of thing should always be done after caviar.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cinema Europe: The Other Hollywood (1995) See more »

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User Reviews

Stunning Masterpiece with a Masterful Performance
2 September 2010 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

Last Command, The (1928)

**** (out of 4)

Marvelous drama about a former Russian General (Emil Jannings) who after the war fled the country and ended up in America where ten years later he's working as an extra in Hollywood. A director (William Powell) is making a movie about that Russian war when he comes across a picture of the former General and recognizes him as the man who threw him in prison years earlier. This here certainly turned out to be something truly special and a lot of the credit has to go to director von Sternberg but we also have Jannings turning in a magnificent performance, which ended up winning him an Oscar. The story also won a Oscar and it's easy to see why because the screenplay pretty much contains ever bit of emotion you could possibly want. There's some nice laughs, a pretty good love story, some political drama and some incredibly tense scenes. What shocked me so much is that it seems like von Sternberg wanted the first twenty-minutes or so to gain sympathy for our main character as we see him obviously destroyed by life and working for peanuts as an extra. When then get the grand flashback to when he was pretty much the ruler of Russia and how his encounter with a woman (Evelyn Brent) pretty much changes the rest of his life. The story is part tragedy but it also works incredibly well as a character study because one can't help but love this guy and feel sorry for the pain he goes through. The "Rosebud" from CITIZEN KANE is perhaps the greatest secret in film history but I think Jannings' nervous head shake has to be the second one. Early on we're told that this head shake is due to some accident and when it's finally revealed what that accident was it comes as a great shock and is an incredibly powerful sequence. The final thirty-minutes of the movie is like an out of control train, which is funny because the majority of the footage takes place on-board a train. As the revolution begins the film starts to pick up energy and drama and it just keeps growing and growing as the thing moves along. It's clear von Sternberg planned it this way because he just keeps pounding the viewer with one twist after another and the suspense just keeps building until that final secret is revealed. The aftermath as the story picks back up in Hollywood is yet another powerful turn and will certainly leave an impact on the viewers. Jannings is marvelous in the main role as he really is playing two characters and he does a terrific job with both of them. I was very moved by his performance as the broken down extra because he tells us everything we need to know the first time we see his face. The eyes can be a very powerful thing for an actor and Jannings tells us so much with the look on his face. The power and emotion in his eyes isn't something they can teach at an acting school and the veteran certainly knows how to use his. Powell's role isn't nearly as flashy but he too is quite good. Brent is even more impressive here than she was in the director's previous film UNDERWORLD. Her character goes through a lot of changes as well and I thought the actress nailed each one of the emotions and manages to have us want to see her dead one second only to then change our opinions on her a split second later. THE LAST COMMAND is certainly one of the most powerful movies from this era with a final thirty-minutes that rank among the best I've ever seen.


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