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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

A hand-cranked camera is reflected in a glass door. See more »

Connections

Featured in Germany Year 90 Nine Zero (1991) See more »

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User Reviews

A great classic that conveys a dark world view
11 November 1999 | by Doug-193See all my reviews

I just viewed this film on the pristine Kino video release, having seen a poorish print years ago.

One of the great classics of the German silent cinema, hugely influential, this true work of art not only displays the seemingly limitless resources of the UFA studios, but dares to break constantly with convention, particularly by being a "pure" film and dispensing with intertitles, but most spectacularly in its use of the "subjective" camera--creating as far as I know, the first sustained use of "point of view" in the history of movies, which had hitherto shown us action objectively, as it were: the spectator had always merely "observed," as in a third person narrative. Even Griffith and Bitzer's trucking shots, while including "us" in the action, did not represent another character's point of view. Well, after "the Last Laugh," P.O.V. turns up again and again. (See Abel Gance's "Napoleon.") Today the technique is common (necessary!). The most famous shots in "Der Letzte Mann" include the drunken swaying of the room seen through the Doorman's bleary eyes (cinematographer Karl Freund seated in a large swing and pushed back and forth); the opening shot coming down into the lobby by elevator and exiting the gate; and the astonishing vision of the hotel toppling in slow motion over on the poor doorman after his demotion. And can you believe that first night cityscape with the driving rain was all constructed and shot INDOORS?

However, I must say there is an unfortunate message in this drama, that of the merciless German stereotype: fawning before authority and deriding weakness--humiliating the powerless, admiring, almost worshiping the powerful. This is shown by the doorman's vanity and puffed-up self-image, which hinges, it seems, on a splendid uniform and the deference it alone inspires. Position is everything to him, his family, employers, hotel guests and neighbors. This is a shallow world, indeed, a social mentality that I can imagine, without straining too much, easily leading in a few brief years straight to the all-too-successful Gestapo! (I would add that the ending seems to contradict this, but the ending must be discounted; it is a sheer fantasy, "tacked on," really unrelated to the rest of the film and completely out of character.)


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