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Encyclopedia > The Last Laugh
The Last Laugh

Original Film Poster
Directed by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
Produced by Erich Pommer
Written by Carl Mayer
Starring Emil Jannings
Maly Delschaft
Max Hiller
Emilie Kurz
Hans Unterkircher
Olaf Storm
Hermann Vallentin
Georg John
Emmy Wyda
Cinematography Karl Freund
Distributed by UFA
Release date(s) Germany December 23, 1924
USA January 5, 1925
Running time 90-101 minutes
Language German
Preceded by Die Austreibung
Followed by Die Finanzen des Großherzogs
All Movie Guide profile
IMDb profile

The Last Laugh (Der Letzte Mann) is a 1924 silent film by German director F. W. Murnau and based on a Broadway play by Charles W. Goddard. It is the most famous example of the short-lived Kammerspiel or "chamber-drama" genre. Image File history File links Lastlaughposter. ... F. W. Murnau. ... Carl Mayer (20 November 1894 Graz, Austria - 1 July 1944 London) was a screenplay writer who wrote or co-wrote the screenplays to The Cabinet of Doctor Caligari (1920), Der Letzte Mann (1924), and Sunrise (1927), the last two being films directed by F. W. Murnau. ... Emil Jannings (July 23, 1884 - January 3, 1950) was the first winner of the Academy Award for Best Actor. ... Karl W. Freund (January 16, 1890-May 3, 1969) was a German cinematographer who worked on over 100 films, including Metropolis (1927), Dracula (1931), and Key Largo (1948). ... UFA logo Universum Film AG, better known as Ufa or UFA, was the principal film studio in Germany, home of the German film industry during the Weimar Republic and through World War II, and a major force in world cinema during its brief existence from 1917 to 1945. ... Image File history File links Flag_of_Germany. ... December 23 is the 357th day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar (358th in leap years). ... 1924 (MCMXXIV) was a leap year starting on Tuesday (link will take you to calendar). ... Image File history File links Flag_of_the_United_States. ... January 5 is the 5th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. ... 1925 (MCMXXV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will take you to calendar). ... A silent film is a film which has no accompanying soundtrack. ... F W Murnau Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (December 28, 1888 - March 11, 1931) was one of the most influential directors of the silent film era. ... Broadway theatre[1] is often considered the highest professional form of theatre in the United States. ... Charles William Goddard, born November 26, 1879 in Portland, Maine, United States – died January 11, 1951 in Miami, Florida, was a playwright and screenwriter. ...

This was one of the first films to incorporate a moving camera (although references to cameras following characters up stairs in Murnau's earlier film, Der Januskopf, may point to an even earlier use). The set was built entirely within a studio, unusual for Murnau who preferred to shoot on location. Perhaps the best example of this is Tabu (1931), which is shot entirely on location at Bora Bora.

Often translated as The Last Laugh, the German gives a slightly more sinister title: The Last Man. Janning's character, the doorman for a famous hotel, loses his job as he is considered too old and infirm. He tries to conceal this fact from his friends and family, but to his shame, he is discovered. In the end, the doorman inherits a fortune and is able to dine happily at the same hotel he used to work for. Carl Mayer (the sceenwriter) was forced into this happy ending in order to help the film appeal to a mass audience. The intended ending by Mayer was the death of the doorman in the bathroom (supposedly suicide) after his humilation as he sees no point in living.

The special effects displayed in this film are outstanding for the time (1924). The use of models and moving scenery implies depth in a small studio, leading the viewer to believe that each shot is actually within a large and imposing cityscape. One of the remarkable characteristics of this film is its lack of title use to explain the story - it is conveyed solely through cinematographic resources. Alfred Hitchcock remarked in the book Hitchcock-Truffaut that a common standard used by directors in the silent era to measure their respective prowess at the genre was the number of titles used - the more they could convey visually without having to resort to titles, the better a director they were considered. By this measure, he considered The Last Laugh to be one of the best films ever made. The Last Laugh is one of Murnau's most memorable films, and has recently been made available on DVD by Kino for Region 1 and Eureka for Region 2 . Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock, KBE (August 13, 1899 – April 29, 1980) was a highly influential director and producer who pioneered many techniques in the suspense and thriller genres. ...

In 1998, composer Dean Drummond wrote a new soundtrack score for The Last Laugh in extended just intonation, for an orchestra consisting of some of his own instruments, some standard instruments (flute, cello, and trumpet), and some of Harry Partch's instruments. 1998 (MCMXCVIII) was a common year starting on Thursday of the Gregorian calendar, and was designated the International Year of the Ocean. ... A composer is a person who writes music. ... Soundtrack refers to the recorded sound accompanying a visual medium such as a motion picture, television show, or video game. ... A film score is the music in a film, generally written for the film and often used to heighten emotions provoked by the imagery on the screen or by the dialogue. ... In music, just intonation, also called rational intonation, is any musical tuning in which the frequencies of notes are related by whole number ratios; that is, by positive rational numbers. ... A philharmonic orchestra An orchestra is an instrumental ensemble, usually a fairly large instrumental ensemble with string, brass, woodwind sections, and possibly a percussion section as well. ... The examples and perspective in this article or section may not represent a worldwide view. ... The violoncello, almost always abbreviated to cello, or cello (the c is pronounced as the ch in cheese), is a stringed instrument and a member of the violin family. ... Trumpeter redirects to here. ... Harry Partch (June 24, 1901 – September 3, 1974) was an American composer. ...

DVD Gallery

Image File history File links Lastlaugh. ... The following is an excerpt of the article entitled DVD. For the sake of convenience, the terms Region 0, Region 1, Region 2, Region 3, Region 4, Region 5, Region 6, Region 7 and Region 8 redirect to this page. ...

See also

When the movie industry first flowered in the period from 1900 to 1915, it took hold in Europe as well as America. ... F W Murnau Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau (December 28, 1888 - March 11, 1931) was one of the most influential directors of the silent film era. ... The period of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933) between the fall of the German Empire and the rise of the Third Reich is considered an early renaissance in world cinema, with many influential and important films being made. ...

External links

  • Complete Public domain download

Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau

Der Knabe in Blau (1919) • Der Januskopf (1920) • Abend - Nacht - Morgen (1920) • Satanas (1920) • Sehnsucht (1920) • Der Gang in die Nacht (1920) • Der Bucklige und die Tänzerin (1920) • Schloß Vogelöd (1921) • Marizza (1922) • Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (1922) • Phantom (1922) • Der brennende Acker (1922) • Die Austreibung (1923) • Der letzte Mann (1924) • Die Finanzen des Großherzogs (1924) • Herr Tartüff (1926) • Faust (1926) • Sunrise (1927) • Four Devils (1928) • City Girl (1930) • Tabu (1931) F. W. Murnau. ... Sehnsucht was a 1920 Silent film directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Conrad Veidt. ... The Haunted Castle (also known as Schloß Vogelöd and Vogelod Castle) is a silent chamber drama directed by F. W. Murnau in 1921. ... Nosferatu, eine Symphonie des Grauens (A Symphony of Horror in German) is a German Expressionist film shot in 1922 by F.W. Murnau. ... Phantom is a silent film that was directed by F. W. Murnau in 1922, the same year he directed Nosferatu. ... Herr Tartüff is a German silent film produced by Erich Pommer for UFA and released in 1926. ... Faust was a silent film produced in 1926 directed by F.W. Murnau with Gösta Ekman as Faust and Emil Jannings as Mephisto. ... Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans (aka Sunrise) is a 1927 American film directed by F.W. Murnau. ... Four Devils is a 1928 silent film by the great German film director F. W. Murnau. ... Tabu (also called Tabu, a Story of the South Seas) is a 1931 film which tells the story of two lovers in the South Seas, who must escape their village when the girl is chosen as the holy maid to the gods. ...

  Results from FactBites:
The Last Laugh (1039 words)
Murnau's "The Last Laugh" (1924) tells this story in one of the most famous of silent films, and one of the most truly silent, because it does not even use printed intertitles.
Silent directors were proud of their ability to tell a story through pantomime and the language of the camera, but no one before Murnau had ever entirely done away with all written words on the screen (except for one sardonic comment we'll get to later).
Jannings came to America at the same time as Murnau, won the Academy Award for "The Last Command" (1928), was rendered unemployable by the rise of the talkies, returned to Germany, and found one of his most famous roles, as Marlene Dietrich's erotically mesmerized admirer in "The Blue Angel" (1930).
The Last Laugh (813 words)
The Last Laugh is the penultimate expressionistic street film, full of sets that look both realistic and fantastic at the same time, unsettling multiple exposures, operatic performances whose weight you can really feel on your chest, and a magic that few movies made after audio took over have been able to tap.
The main character, the Last Man (Letze Mann) of the original German title, is the hotel doorman, an imposing but elderly man with an enormous mustache that continues all the way to his sideburns past an amazing flourish of hair that extends from his cheeks.
In The Last Laugh the man derives his power and swagger from his uniform, from alcohol and from wealth; without at least one of the three he is a stooped wreck of a human being.
  More results at FactBites »



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