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The Way of All Flesh (1927)

 -  Drama  -  1 October 1927 (USA)
7.4
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Ratings: 7.4/10 from 68 users  
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The story takes place in Milwaukee during the early 1900s with a bank clerk named August Schiller who is happy with both his job and his family. He is tasked with transporting $1,000 in ... See full summary »

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Title: The Way of All Flesh (1927)

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Cast

Cast overview:
...
...
Mrs. Schilling
...
The Temptress
Donald Keith ...
August, junior
Fred Kohler ...
The Tough
...
August, as a child
Mickey McBan ...
Evald
Betsy Ann Hisle ...
Charlotte
Carmencita Johnson ...
Elizabeth
Gordon Thorpe ...
Karl
Jackie Combs ...
Heinrich
Dean Harrell ...
Evald
Anne Sheridan
Nancy Drexel
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Storyline

The story takes place in Milwaukee during the early 1900s with a bank clerk named August Schiller who is happy with both his job and his family. He is tasked with transporting $1,000 in securities to Chicago. On the train he meets a blond seductress who convinces him to buy her a bottle of champagne, and takes him to a saloon. The next morning he awakes alone in a dilapidated bedroom and without the securities. He finds the woman and pleads with her to return the stolen securities. When he also threatens her he is knocked unconscious by the saloon owner and dragged to a nearby railroad track. As the crooks strips him of his ID and papers, Schiller recovers and struggles with the saloon owner, ultimately throwing him into the path of an oncoming train, killing him. Schiller flees and, as he is about to take his own life, sees in a newspaper that he is supposedly dead. The saloon owner's mangled body had been identified as Schiller's. Twenty years pass. Schiller is now aged and unkempt,... Written by Anonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

children | lost film | See All (2) »

Genres:

Drama

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Details

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Release Date:

1 October 1927 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Der Weg allen Fleisches  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In her autobiography, "The Shocking Miss Pilgrim A Writer in Early Hollywood", Frederica Sagor claims that the original screenplay for this film was written by her husband, Ernest Maas. The story - of a man who abandons his family - was loosely based on Ernest's own father, who had an affair with his sister-in-law and destroyed two families in the process. As a fellow German-American, and working in the nascent film industry, Ernest knew Emil Jannings personally and gave him a copy of the original screenplay. Later, he learned that Jannings had taken it to another director (and studio) and they'd stolen it; this was common in the early film industry. See more »

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Referenced in The Jack Benny Hour (1959) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Emil Jannings Goes the Way of All Celluloid
13 January 2012 | by (Earth) – See all my reviews

Twenty years ago, Milwaukee bank clerk Emil Jannings (as August Schiller) is blissfully happy with dear wife Belle Bennett and their six children. Dedicated to both work and family, Mr. Jannings carefully watches his bank's securities, and teaches son Philippe De Lacy (as August Jr.) to play the violin. When a crisis occurs, Jannings is the problem-solver. An amazingly punctual and structured man, Jannings is reluctant when asked to transport $1,000 to Chicago for his bank, but goes. On the train, Jannings is sitting across from bleached blonde Phyllis Haver (as Mayme) when the conductor arrives to check passengers' tickets. When Jennings produces his ticket, Ms. Haver catches a glimpse of the bank's $1,000 securities, and is enthralled. She succeeds in seducing Jennings, assisted by champagne. He wakes up in a strange bedroom, minus both blonde and bucks. Jennings tracks Haver to a saloon and accidentally kills her tough boyfriend Fred Kohler in a struggle...

Wracked with guilt over his actions, Jannings decides to go along with the story, after the criminal's body is mistaken for his own, to spare his family embarrassment and scandal. Twenty years pass...

Presently, Jannings is still estranged from his family. He heavily carries the weight of shame as he works picking up trash in a park. Wandering tramp-like, he sees grown-up son Donald Keith (as August Jr.) has becomes a successful concert violinist. Jannings manages to attend Mr. Keith's performance. Taught by Jannings, young Keith handles the violin expertly, shedding a tear when playing one of his father's favorites. Keith does not know his father is alive, watching in the audience. Jennings shadows his family when they place flowers on the grave of the eldest sibling, who died serving in World War I. During a Christmas snowstorm, Jannings encounters son Keith, who pities the old tramp with a silver dollar. Keith enters his warm family home as father Jannings walks off into the cold evening, alone...

Unfortunately, "The Way of All Flesh" is a LOST film… but portions of the film have turned up. Two surviving excerpts are from the last act, when Jannings is a haggard old tramp. The first part is from a documentary; mainly, it includes Jannings discovering son Keith. The second part is, fortunately, the film's emotional closing sequence, when Jannings and Keith meet. With the documentary's narration included, the available footage forms its own "short" story and is a good sample of the film's worth. It is available on "Fragments: Surviving Pieces of Lost Films" (2011) released by "Flicker Alley" and has been shown on "Turner Classic Movies" (TCM). In fact, the stellar Jannings performance is the highlight of "Fragments"...

Jannings' performance was one of the two for which he won the first "Academy Award" as "Best Actor". The award was for his roles in both "The Way of All Flesh" and "The Last Command" (1928). Due to the former's foray into over-sentimentality, the award was seen by critics as something better remembered as for the latter film. Comparing "Best Picture" standings, "Film Daily" placed "Way of All Flesh" at #4 and "Last Command" at #3 for their years. "The New York Times" had the latter at #5 while the former in the earlier year's top ten (exact position not given). Some of Oscar's early awards are puzzling, but awarding Jannings' still obviously superb characterizations is easy to applaud.

********* The Way of All Flesh (6/25/27) Victor Fleming ~ Emil Jannings, Belle Bennett, Donald Keith, Phyllis Haver


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