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The Last Laugh (1924)

Der letzte Mann (original title)
Not Rated | | Drama | 5 January 1925 (USA)
An aging doorman, after being fired from his prestigious job at a luxurious Hotel is forced to face the scorn of his friends, neighbours and society.

Director:

F.W. Murnau

Writer:

Carl Mayer
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Emil Jannings ... Hotelportier [Hotel Doorman]
Maly Delschaft ... Seine Nichte [His Niece]
Max Hiller Max Hiller ... Ihr Bräutigam [Her Bridegroom]
Emilie Kurz Emilie Kurz ... Tante des Bräutigams [Bridegroom's Aunt]
Hans Unterkircher Hans Unterkircher ... Geschäftsführer [Hotel Manager]
Olaf Storm Olaf Storm ... Junger Gast [Young Guest]
Hermann Vallentin Hermann Vallentin ... Spitzbäuchiger Gast [Potbellied Guest]
Georg John ... Nachtwächter [Night Watchman]
Emmy Wyda Emmy Wyda ... Dünne Nachbarin [Thin Neighbor]
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Storyline

Emil Jannings is the doorman of the elegant Atlantic Hotel. He is proud of his uniform and function, and respected by his community. When he reaches the old age, he has difficulties to carry trucks and suitcases. The hotel manager decides to change his function to washroom attendant. This apparently simple action is enough to destroy him as a human being. He loses his self-respect and when his neighbor finds that he is janitor of the hotel, he loses the respect of his neighbors and friends. Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Germany

Release Date:

5 January 1925 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Last Laugh See more »

Filming Locations:

Germany See more »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$94,812, 31 December 1925
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Universum Film (UFA) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (DVD)

Sound Mix:

Silent

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The first "dolly" (a device that allows a camera to move during a shot) was created for this film. According to Edgar G. Ulmer, who worked on the film, the idea to make the first dolly came from the desire to focus on Emil Jannings' face during the first shot of the movie, as he moved through the hotel. They obviously didn't know how to make a dolly technically, so they created the first one out of a baby's carriage. They then pulled the carriage on a sort of railway that was built on the studio. See more »

Goofs

When the porter loads the trunk on his back in the rain, the rain isn't falling on it. Once he takes a couple of steps, it is. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Murnau, Borzage and Fox (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Not Murnau's best, but a damn fine film anyway
13 January 2005 | by The_VoidSee all my reviews

F.W Murnau is best known for his expressionistic horror movies, such as 'Nosferatu' and the excellent 'Faust'. This movie is somewhat different from those, as it's a more personal and down to earth sort of tale. Still, despite this not being a member of the horror genre; Murnau's style still allows for much of the great visuals that made his horror movies great. The story itself has definite horror elements, which although they don't involve vampires or the devil; are arguably more frightening, as it dictates and event that could well happen to anyone. The film tackles the idea of 'downfall', and as the prologue states; one can be a prince one day, but what is he tomorrow? This tale is told through the story of a hotel porter that has worked hard all his life but loses his job through incredible bad luck when the manager catches him taking a break. Heartbroken and humiliated, our hero is offered another job; but it only allows for his humiliation to continue, as the job is that of a lowly bathroom attendant. We then follow his struggle as he comes to terms with his loss and the reaction of his family and neighbours.

F.W. Murnau uses no story cards for this silent film, which shows his flair for storytelling. Imagining some of today's 'great' filmmakers telling a story without dialogue is preposterous, but Murnau shows his prowess by doing just that, and doing it down to a fine art. People often cite 'Citizen Kane' for being the film that took storytelling to the next level, and although it did do that; surely some of the credit has to go to F.W. Murnau. This film features what is perhaps the first ever fantasy sequence, a sequence that is, of course, a favourite of today's cinema. Murnau's technical mastery is also shown in many other sequences, including one in particular that sees a scene appear in the middle of a letter. It's quite unbelievable that this was made over eighty years ago, just due to the amazing work on show in the film.

The film falls down a bit towards the end, because of an ill-advised twist. This was put upon F.W. Murnau by the studio releasing the film, who wanted a happy ending. This is just another example of a studio spoiling a great movie, and even before I saw that piece of information in the trivia section for this movie; it was evident to me that it isn't the way that Murnau wanted to take the story from the way it almost appeared to be tacked on to the end of the film. Still, the hour and ten minutes running up the ending are almost as good as silent cinema gets, and in spite of the studio's best efforts to ruin it; The Last Laugh stands tall as on of Murnau's finest films.


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