The Last Command - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Last Command Reviews

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September 9, 2017
The Last Command is a very uneven movie with a troublesome middle section, but the first act is great and the ending is of course magnificent and so powerful in emotion. The flashback structure is not well utilized, but it was intriguing and the storyline is very interesting and quite original in a way. It is most famous for being Emil Jannings' vehicle. He is absolutely marvelous here, unforgettable and his performance is so superb that he thoroughly deserved the first ever Academy Award for Best Actor.
October 11, 2016
Great silent film, fascinating story, well-acted by all. Wonder why no contemporary director has remade it.
Super Reviewer
½ July 19, 2016
It may be American but Sternberg's German roots shine through.
½ April 7, 2016
No qualifiers needed. This is not a great Silent film. Just a great film. Easily one of the better character studies that I have seen. It does not matter if Grand Duke Sergius Alexander is on the right or wrong side of a war.. what matters and comes across is that he is true to him honor, his home, and himself. Watch this movie.
September 11, 2015
Great classic film. Emil Jannings is perfectly cast to play Grand Duke Sergius Alexander, the fallen general in command of the Russian army during the communist revolution. His portrayal as both a fierce and confident military leader at the height of his command and then as a damaged and struggling old man just trying to get by as a Hollywood movie extra is superbly done and definitely deserved of his Best Actor award in the first Academy Awards. Favorite quotes of the movie: "You are now my prisoner of war....and my prisoner of love!" followed closely by "That woman belongs with me. She goes with the coat!". The only downside is that I nearly got lung cancer watching this movie; they sure did like their cigarettes.
July 31, 2015
The German actor Emil Jannings (Lead in this Film) I believe was the first actor to win the Best Actor award at the Oscars, but when returning to Germany in the 1930's became a Nazi Sympathizer & was never allowed back in Hollywood.

This is a tense drama about a Russian General who is betrayed by a Revolutionist & his wife & is humiliated & shamed, he then flees to California and begins work as an extra in Hollywood. He then begins a plan of revenge since the Revolutionary is now a Hollywood director.

This is wonderfully acted by Jannings & directed very well by Josef Von Stranberg who went on to do many great films in the sound era.
July 10, 2015
Von Sternberg's classic silent film manages to mix WWI, the Russian Revolution, a beautiful spy, and Hollywood, anchored by a poignant performance by Emil Jannings (who won an Oscar for it).
June 23, 2015
A haunting performance from Emil Jannings and really sharp direction from Joseph von Sternberg. Each frame looks like a painting. First ever oscar win for a Best Actor. Well deserved.
May 16, 2015
A really interesting film made before the sound era. The cigarettes (which represent power), the emphasis on facial cues, and the role reversals of the characters are the best aspects of this film. If you happen to get the Criterion disc be sure to check out the Von Sternberg Till '29 visual essay (i.e. documentary). Its really worth the extra time. Great film for study!
November 17, 2014
over the top historical drama
December 8, 2012
An amazing piece of silent filmmaking. One marvels not only at Jannings' central performance, but the composition of the shots and the propulsion of the narrative.
November 3, 2012
A sort of American warm-up for The Blue Angel. Sternberg was a cinematic force!
August 14, 2012
Josef von Sternberg's great silent classic, "The Last Command" (1928), was the film that helped earn Emil Jannings the first-ever Academy Award for best actor.
Jannings is amazing as a Russian general in the 1917 revolution, cousin to the Czar, who ends up living in shell-shocked destitution in 1928 Hollywood as a call-list extra. From the flop house where he hides in reclusive poverty, he receives a call one day to audition for the role of a Russian general in a new film production. The director (William Powell), an ex-patriot former revolutionist, recognizes him, casts him in the part and then, in an extended flashback that comprises the bulk of the narrative, we learn of the tragic history that took place more than a decade before. The general was a prideful man who loved Russia deeply, but he stands fully in the forceful current of the Bolshevik revolution, and is fated to be swept away, a victim of his own pride, and his feelings for a woman whom he happens to encounter from among the revolutionists. The story moves inexorably to a dramatic and tragic denouement, before moving back to the Hollywood studio, where In the heart-rending climax, he is urged on to his greatest and final performance.
Part of the success of the film is due to Evelyn Brent's smoldering performance as Janning's co-star. Her allure and passionate defiance as Natasha, the revolutionist he meets and seduces, matches the great man's willful passion scene by scene; her love will be the cause of his defeat and his redemption.
One of the strongest silents I have ever seen, the visuals of this film are especially impressive. Von Sternberg's sense of composition, framing and the use of light and shadow is unparalleled. Any still from this movie would be impressive displayed as a framed photograph. The DVD copy I saw had an excellent musical score composed for the film's latest release in a Criterion collection.
May 6, 2012
Josef von Sternberg's The Last Command is historical because the films star Emil Jannings was the first actor to receive the first Academy Award for best actor. He was actually also the very first person in the history to receive the very first Oscar statuette, and it's now exhibited in the Berlin film museum. But enough about the Oscar.

The whole film start with the Hollywood director Leo Andreiev (William Powell) who looks trough photographs of potential extras to play a czarist general, and he suddenly find a person that he actually know, who was in fact a czarist general in real life, Grand Duke Sergius Alexander (Emil Jannings). He gets the job, but when he tries to tell the other extras and even shows one of his medals they just laugh. Then we get to see flashbacks of his earlier life, as the pompous aristrocrat who only got the title "General" because he is one of the Csar's cousins. But there's a big resistance movement, and some of them is actually Andreiev, and his partner Natascha Dobrow (Evelyn Brent) whom Alexander decides to inprison them both, but he develops an interest for the beautiful Natascha whom also develops feeling for him as well. But the revolution what's it otherwise.

Emil Jannings character is actually based on the real life General Lodijensky who acted in many Hollywood films. Emil Jannings is simply one of the greatest actor that has ever walked on this earth. The most special thing about his acting is all his strong expressions of every kind of feeling, from anger, happiness, sorrow and shame. And there's no surprise that he does a great job in this film. But when it comes to the whole film in general it's rather a film that is not any different than most of the films of it's time, it's the same love story. It's uses to much time on the interrogations and all the fancy parties, which makes it a little slow, rather than show us the conditions where the people is being repressed, they are portrayed as thugs and hooligans, but then again it's Hollywood.

But I really did like the first part where we see the General's humiliation of being pushed around as an ordinary extra. Jannings was always good at this, making a real character we really can relate and feel sorry for, a man that has lost anything in the world. So my conclusion is that I really liked this movie because of Jannings' performance and the plot and the meta film themes. Thumbs up.
March 24, 2012
A great masterpiece full of stunning mise-en-scene, wonderful ironies, and a perfect performance from Emil Jannings.
½ March 21, 2012
Effective film of the silent era, with a well-deserved Oscar winning performance by Emil Jannings. Neither side in the Russian Revolution come out looking very well, while Jannings' character is given a quiet strength, even as his dignity is all but destroyed. His final moment in the film cements the performance. I do wish his other Oscar cited performance that year wasn't lost.
December 5, 2011
Emil Jannings plays a Czarist general who had escaped from Russia in 1917 who becomes an extra in Hollywood. He has to confront his past when chosen to play a Russian general during a film about the revolution.
November 26, 2011
Almost too good to be true, yet it is actually based on a true story of a Russian General who ended up in the US post Russian Revolution, losing everything, and eventually playing small parts in movies, usually a Russian. Josef Von Sternberg's silent masterpiece is an amazing piece of work, showing the great Emil Jannings as the Russian general, in flashbacks during the war, to his work at a Hollywood studio in a bizarre sequence recreating the epic battle. The scenes whre Jannings' character of the general, playing essentially himself, the character of the general on the movie set is grand inspired acting. Who cares that there is no sound. Here is the performance of a lifetime.
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