Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh) (1925) - Rotten Tomatoes

Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh) (1925)




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Movie Info

F.W. Murnau's German silent classic The Last Laugh (Der Letze Mann) stars Emil Jannings as the doorman of a posh Berlin hotel. Fiercely proud of his job, Jannings comports himself like a general in his resplendent costume, and is treated like royalty by his friends and neighbors. The hotel's insensitive new manager, noting that Jannings seems winded after carrying several heavy pieces of luggage for a patron, decides that the old man is no longer up to his job. The manager demotes Jannings to men's washroom attendant, and the effect is disastrous on the man's prestige and self-esteem. Logically, the film should end on a note of tragedy, but Murnau (either because he was ordered to by the producers or because he just felt like it) adds a near-surrealistic coda, wherein Jannings, having suddenly inherited a fortune, returns to the hotel in triumph. The Last Laugh was a bold experiment for its time: a film told entirely visually, with no subtitles save for the semi-satirical explanation of the climax. In a sense, Karl Freund's camera is as much a "character" as anyone else, commenting upon Jannings' rise and fall via then-revolutionary camera angles, jarring movements and grotesque lens distortions. Many historians credit The Last Laugh as the vanguard of the "German invasion" of Hollywood during the mid- to late-1920s. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh)

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (3)

The 1924 film in which F.W. Murnau freed his camera from its stationary tripod and took it on a flight of imagination and expression that changed the way movies were made.

April 27, 2009 | Full Review…
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

There are no titles in this film -- merely a few inserts to guide the viewer. And yet one is never in doubt as to the action of this admirable picture, which is a remarkable piece of direction, with exquisite lighting effects.

March 25, 2006 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
New York Times
Top Critic

The film would be famous just for its lack of titles, and for its lead performance by Emil Jannings, which is so effective that both Jannings and Murnau were offered Hollywood contracts and moved to America at the dawn of sound.

January 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic

One of Murnau's classic silent films features a great performance from Emil Jannings, who three years later became the first Best Actor Oscar winner.

June 4, 2011 | Rating: A | Full Review…

Karl Freund's ground-breaking and historically important cinematography can still take the breath away.

April 27, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…
Empire Magazine

...can still pierce a hardened heart - especially these days, when demotions and layoffs have become a daily occurrence and the streets are full of forlorn former doormen.

March 29, 2009 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Der Letzte Mann (The Last Laugh)

a groundbreaking film in nearly every possible way and one of the finest achievements of the silent era. it's broadly played but flows beautifully and contains only one title card! magnificent!

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


Great lighting and high contrast German silent film. It's a nice slice of life in 1924 Berlin. The famous director F.W. Murnau evokes many emotions. It's a work of art to look at. It feels really long and is sad. I felt sorry for the old walrus-moustached hotel doorman who lost his proud position.

Lafe Fredbjornson
Lafe Fredbjornson

Super Reviewer


A brilliant movie with great actors, director, and story. A classic.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer

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