The Last Laugh (Der Letzte Mann)

1925

The Last Laugh (Der Letzte Mann)

Critics Consensus

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100%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 26

88%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 4,048
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The Last Laugh (Der Letzte Mann) Photos

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

Cast

Emil Jannings
as Hotel Doorman
Kurt Hiller
as The Daughter's Fiance
Emilie Kurz
as Bridegroom's Aunt
Max Hiller
as The Daughter's Fiance
Hans Unterkirchen
as Hotel manager
Olaf Storm
as Young Hotel Resident
Hermann Vallentin
as Rich Hotel Resident
Emmy Wyda
as Thin Neighbor
Georg John
as Night Watchman
Harald Madsen
as Wedding Musician
Carl Schenstrøm
as Wedding Musician
View All

Critic Reviews for The Last Laugh (Der Letzte Mann)

All Critics (26) | Top Critics (3) | Fresh (26)

  • 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.

    Apr 27, 2009 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Mar 25, 2006 | Rating: 5/5 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 4/4 | Full Review…
  • The Last Laugh is a progress: it is not parasitic on any novel or play, does not resemble any literary form at all. It contains one of the finest pieces of sustained character-acting yet seen.

    May 8, 2018 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Jun 4, 2011 | Rating: A | Full Review…
  • Karl Freund's ground-breaking and historically important cinematography can still take the breath away.

    Apr 27, 2009 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Last Laugh (Der Letzte Mann)

  • Sep 25, 2011
    Silent German character study with a masterfully tragic performance from Emil Jannings and innovative tracking camerawork by F W Murnau. Emotionally gripping and the story still resonates. The ending is very absurdly deus ex machina though. Probably one of the defining early works of European cinema and, along with Nosferatu, Tabu, Sunrise, and Faust, validates F W Murnau as the sole creative genius behind German Expressionism. 98/100
    Simeon D Super Reviewer
  • Nov 12, 2010
    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 F Super Reviewer
  • Sep 03, 2010
    A brilliant movie with great actors, director, and story. A classic.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Dec 16, 2008
    [font=Century Gothic]With exquisite production design to accentuate the vast differences between the worlds of the luxury hotel and working classes, "The Last Laugh," directed by F. W. Murnau, is a heartbreaking movie about a hotel porter(Emil Jannings) who has been working for the same hotel for decades and takes great pride in doing his job. For him, his work is simply everything. On a day like any other, he takes a heavy trunk off an automobile unassisted in a driving rain storm. It is only understandable that after such an arduous task that he requires a little breather afterwards. But the hotel manager(Hans Unterkircher) does not see it the same way, replacing the porter with a younger man the next day and demoting the former porter out of sight downstairs to attend to the restroom. Like so many, he is simply pushed to the side at the end of his career.[/font]
    Walter M Super Reviewer

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