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The Last Command

The Last Command (1928)

tomatometer

No Score Yet...

Average Rating: N/A
Critic Reviews: 4
Fresh: 4 | Rotten: 0

audience

92

liked it
Average Rating: 4/5
User Ratings: 572

My Rating

Movie Info

Josef vonSternberg's The Last Command was inspired by the true story of General Lodijenski, a Russian aristocrat who arrived penniless in the US after the 1917 Revolution and who supported himself by playing movie bit parts and managing a Russian restaurant. Emil Jannings stars as the Grand Duke Sergius Alexander, who in the last days of the Romanoff regime must decide the fate of two revolutionist actors, Leo Andreyev (William Powell) and the gorgeous Natacha (Evelyn Brent). Andreyev is carted

Aug 24, 2010

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All Critics (15) | Top Critics (5) | Fresh (14) | Rotten (0) | DVD (3)

Sternberg is a true master.

February 27, 2013 Full Review Source: The New Republic
The New Republic
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Plenty of direction and as much photography. There doesn't appear to be a miss or skip either.

March 26, 2009 Full Review Source: Variety
Variety
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The sheer sophistication of Sternberg's visuals makes nearly all current releases look old-fashioned.

June 24, 2006 Full Review Source: Time Out
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Sternberg's direction makes this second only to The Docks of New York as the most accomplished of his silent films.

January 1, 2000 Full Review Source: Chicago Reader
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Brilliant silent.

May 8, 2013 Full Review Source: Ozus' World Movie Reviews
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

One of acclaimed German actor Emil Jannings' first American pictures, directed by Austrian expatriate Josef von Sternberg and tailor-made to suit Jannings' skills and screen persona.

February 27, 2013 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

The breadth of Josef von Sternberg's satire is laid out in the passage at William Powell's office, where the elegant axis is complemented by sang-froid gagwork.

February 27, 2013 Full Review Source: CinePassion
CinePassion

Sternberg uses the [acting] contrast to differentiate the sides of the battle, emphasize the class difference and create a dynamic of old Europe and new.

September 4, 2010 Full Review Source: Parallax View
Parallax View

Jannings is a forceful screen presence and his characterization of the general is impressive in its oscillation between power and loss

August 28, 2010 Full Review Source: Q Network Film Desk
Q Network Film Desk

German Emil Jannings became the first Oscar winner, when he won Best Actor for this as well as The Way of All Flesh; here he plays a former Russian General turned extra who goes mad when asked to recreate the Revolution in a movie

July 31, 2006 Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com
EmanuelLevy.Com

A true classic of silent film from Sternberg.

August 13, 2003
Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)

[An] exceptionally styled, shadowy silent drama.

May 24, 2003 Full Review Source: Film4
Film4

A fascinating character study of a "great" man who deserves, but doesn't deserve, his bitter end.

April 20, 2003 Full Review Source: Goatdog's Movies
Goatdog's Movies

Audience Reviews for The Last Command

In "The Last Command," Andreyev(William Powell), a movie director, is preparing to film his magnum opus about the Russian Revolution. In casting the role of a Russian general, he finds the real deal in Sergius Alexander(Emil Jannings), the late Tsar's cousin and former commander-in-chief, now forced to work as a film extra for $7.50 a day. While trying on his costume, Sergius remembers happier days back in his native Russia, commanding troops while having to deal with an insurrection. In the process, he arrests two revolutionists, Andreyev and Natalie(Evelyn Brent).

Towards the beginning, "The Last Command" might seem like just a predictably poignant story of the plight of a fallen man.(Emil Jannings had played a character with a similar arc previously in "The Last Laugh.") Rather, the movie excels in using its enthralling story to provide an expert deconstruction that is far ahead of its time. The shift between Sergius in 1928 and 1917 is so abrupt that I assumed at first that it was the fiction of Andreyev's movie instead of the facts of Sergius' life. Thus "The Last Command" takes full aim at not only Hollywood's problems with the truth but also quite possibly Soviet propaganda like "Potemkin" that this movie shares a similar style with in certain scenes. The point is that the world is much more complex than just black and white with Sergius being a good man on the wrong side of history.
July 20, 2011
Harlequin68
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

One of the best lead performances in a silent drama I've seen, plus an undeniably powerful ending. But I prefer my silents a bit more stylized -- Von Sternberg's direction basically just gets the job done, minus a few tracking shots of note (particularly when scanning behind a row of windows that's issuing costumes to film extras). I also grew impatient with a long stretch that did little beyond flatly establishing the main character's past stature as a revered Russian general. I would have enjoyed more material set in the Hollywood present. Emil Jannings' frozen expressions of suffering will stick with me, however.
February 22, 2011
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

Tragic story. In a slight way, the story is similar to the film The Last Emperor.
April 30, 2008
hypathio7

Super Reviewer

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Latest News on The Last Command

December 28, 2006:
25 New Films Enter National Film Registry ... Good Ones, Too!
Every year another 25 films are chosen for "National Film Registry" designation, and it's...

Foreign Titles

  • The Last Command (1928) (DE)
  • The Last Command (1928) (UK)
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