Der letzte Mann (1924)
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- The Last Laugh
- 77 min.
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Superb! I loved it. The cinematography was spectacular for that time, although I shouldn't be surprised since it is German. The story was a little difficult to believe since the surroundings the characters lived in suggested they all had rather menial or blue-collar jobs. This makes the embarrassment and humiliation of his family a little hard to understand. Still, I was taken in by it and loved every minute. I also like that the inter-title before the ending hinted at the fact that the author/director was ambivalent about how to end it, i.e., on a sad, down note - which might actually be more in keeping with reality - or on a happy note - which more people would like to see. Obviously he chose the
happy ending which probably helped sell more tickets.
I was less convinced by this than those who claim "masterpiece" - it was, of course, an exceptional film for its time, with some clever camera work and beautiful art direction (including a wonderful shot of the enormously tall revolving doors in the Porter's dream), but Emil Jannings performance is so tiresomely melodramatic, endlessly staring with horror into the middle distance, it's a permanent distraction and more than evidence enough that the old dodderer needed to be replaced as quickly as possible (he miraculously straightens up and moves like lightening though when he has to sneak his uniform out of the hotel though). For such a simple story it makes very little sense; as greenhorg pointed out - one menial job is just the same as another to people who actually have no job, fancy uniform or no, and makes his family throwing him out of his own home for the shame of working as a toilet attendant as unlikely as the tacked on "dream" ending. Personally I didn't think it a patch on Murnau's other famous silent, supernatural classics - Nosferatu and Faust.
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In 16 official lists
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This movie ranks #9 in Silent but not Forgotten: The best silent films
This movie ranks #17 in IMDb's 1920s Top 50
This movie ranks #18 in The British Film Institute: 360 Classics
This movie ranks #19 in 1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die
This movie ranks #19 in The 100 Most Significant German Films
This movie ranks #22 in The Top 300 Silent Era Films
This movie ranks #23 in Masters Of Cinema
This movie ranks #31 in Have You Seen? A Personal Introduction to 1,000 Films
This movie ranks #44 in Jonathan Rosenbaum's Essential Films
This movie ranks #53 in Harvard University's Suggested Film Viewing List: Narrative Films (2012)
This movie ranks #98 in Roger Ebert: the great movies
This movie ranks #144 in Sight and Sound 2012 - Combined List
This movie ranks #178 in They Shoot Pictures, Don't They?
This movie ranks #305 in Amos Vogel's Film as a Subversive Art
This movie ranks #527 in TimeOut's 1000 Films to Change Your Life
This movie ranks #888 in Halliwell's Top 1000: The Ultimate Movie Countdown