07/22/2014  
Toy Story of Terror! On Blu-ray + Digital Copy, DVD, and More Aug 19The Railway Man on Early Digital Aug 1 on DVD/Blu-ray Aug 12Gangster on DVD & VOD Jul 22Spartacus: The Complete Collection on Blu-ray, Digital HD, DVD Sep 16Awkward: Season 3 on DVD Aug 5Worm on DVD Aug 12Breathe In on Blu-ray and DVD Aug 12

follow us on twitter

dOc on facebook

NE News Editor

'Fargo' will return to FX next season but with new ca...
Toy Story of Terror! On Blu-ray + Digital Copy, DVD, an...
The Railway Man on Early Digital Aug 1 on DVD/Blu-ray A...
Philip Seymour Hoffman didn't want "trust fund kids" ...
True Detective Has Solid TCA Awards Show Off The Back o...

JB Joseph Burke

The Answer to American Idol's Problems Is......
CONCRETE BLONDES...
CREAM FAREWELL CONCERT...
JACK REACHER...
MANBORG...

CA Chuck Aliaga

CORRUPTION (BLU-RAY)...
THE ATTACK (BLU-RAY)...
TANK GIRL (BLU-RAY)...
HORROR STORIES...
THE UNINVITED (BLU-RAY)...

RR Rich Rosell

THE GIRL...
THE HORDE...
LIFE IS SWEET (BLU-RAY)...
SHOUT AT THE DEVIL (BLU-RAY/DVD COMBO)...
THE BLUE ANGEL (BLU-RAY)...

MZ Mark Zimmer

BABY PEGGY: THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM...
STORAGE WARS: VOLUME THREE...
Take Part in a Film Restoration...
THE 39 STEPS (BLU-RAY)...
DARK SHADOWS: THE BEST OF BARNABAS...

JS Jesse Shanks

2 BROKE GIRLS...
DOWNTON ABBEY SEASONS ONE & TWO LIMITED EDITION...
FLORENCE AND THE SPIRIT OF THE RENAISSANCE...
NAZI COLLABORATORS...
KATT WILLIAMS: KATTPACALYPSE...

RJ Ross Johnson

THE LIFE AND DEATH OF COLONEL BLIMP (BLU-RAY)...
PURPLE NOON (BLU-RAY)...
WEEKEND (BLU-RAY)...
JUAN OF THE DEAD...
THE DEVIL'S NEEDLE AND OTHER TALES OF VICE AND REDEMPTI...

JD Jon Danziger

SUNSET BOULEVARD...
SALO, OR THE 120 DAYS OF SODOM...
TABLOID...
CUL-DE-SAC...
3 WOMEN...

JC Joel Cunningham

YOJIMBO/SANJURO...
SUMMER HOURS (L'heure d't)...
WIZARD OF OZ...
WINGS OF DESIRE...
HORTON HEARS A WHO!...

DH Dan Heaton

REVANCHE...
LAST DAYS OF DISCO...
NIGHTS AND WEEKENDS...
STARGATE SG-1: CHILDREN OF THE GODS...
STARGATE ATLANTIS: THE COMPLETE FIFTH SEASON...

MS Matt Serafini

THE STEPFATHER...
THE HILLS RUN RED...
MANAGEMENT...
NIGHT OF DEATH...
GNAW...

KC Kevin Clemons

Freddy Got Fingered...

JU Jeff Ulmer

Secure The Second Season of The Border on DVD August 25...
THE WALTONS: THE COMPLETE 9TH SEASON...
Dance Me Outside kicks onto DVD May 6, 2008...

DD Dale Dobson

Film-Fest 4: Sundance 2000 & Hawaii...

RM Robert Mandel

Saving Private Ryan...

Share: email   Print      Technorati.gif   StumbleUpon.gif   MySpace   digg.gif delicious.gif   google.gif   magnolia.gif   facebook.gif
Permalink: Permalink.gif



Buy from Amazon

Buy from Amazon.com

Kino on Video presents
The Last Laugh (Der Letzte Mann) (1924)

"The crowning achievement of the German expressionist movement and one of the most notable artworks to arise from the Weimar Republic."
- From the keepcase

Review By: Mark Zimmer  
Published: May 31, 2001

Stars: Emil Jannings
Other Stars: Mary Delschaft, Kurt Hiller, Emile Kurz. Jams Unterkircher, George John
Director: F.W. Murnau

Manufacturer: Cine Magnetics
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (drunkenness)
Run Time: 01h:27m:43s
Release Date: June 05, 2001
UPC: 738329020620
Genre: drama


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
A B+C+B+ D+

DVD Review

There is a very good reason why there is no quotation from the film above: there is absolutely no dialogue whatsoever. Director F.W. Murnau (best known for Nosferatu) made this silent film completely without dialogue, and with only a few intertitles (which will be discussed below.) That this pantomime performance succeeds is a credit to the talents of star Emil Jannings and cinematographer Karl Freund.

The story is quite straightforward. Jannings is the unnamed doorman at the Atlantic Hotel. Fat and pleased with himself, he primps his vast moustache in between assisting patrons. When he sits down to rest after hauling a heavy trunk, the manager spots him doing so. The next day (which happens to be the wedding day of the doorman's daughter), he is demoted to washroom attendant and stripped of his fine coat with the large brass buttons. He suffers a terrible breakdown (possibly a stroke), and becomes an object of ridicule and mockery to his neighbors. Even his daughter and son-in-law reject him when they learn of his descent.

At this point, the intertitle appears and makes it clear that in life, death would be the only thing that the porter would have to look forward to. However, the author appends, "quite an improbable epilogue," in which the doorman indeed gets the last laugh of the title. Whereas this ending would otherwise make the film silly and mawkish, the single intertitle makes it clear that it is a mere canard thrown out to satisfy small minds that demand a happy ending, and underlines the inherent cynicism and despondence of the narrative.

Jannings is nothing short of spectacular in the role of the doorman. In the space of twenty minutes he goes from a pleasant, self-satisfed high to utter degradation and hopelessness, all conveyed in his face and his body language. His desire to work, even as the washroom attendant, makes him try to harness his pride, but with little success. His breakdown is quite believable and moving in the extreme. The supporting cast also does a fine job, with Mary Delschaft as the daughter reluctantly obeying her husband in turning away her own father. Emile Kurz, as the doorman's aunt, whose gossip informs the neighborhood about the demotion, is also excellent, making for a splendid harpy who lives only to pass the time with vile rumors.

Freund's camera work is highly active. There are tracking shots all over, and in one memorable moment the camera goes through a window in anticipation of the opening of Citizen Kane (though not as seamlessly as in the later film). When the doorman's aunt spots him working in the washroom, the camera rushes vertiginously into her eyes, compounding the horror of her expression. The breakdown is signified by multiple exposures and distortions which are highly unsettling. The photography is first-rate all the way. Especially notable is the drunken fantasy of the doorman, where he not only fantasizes resuming his job, but becoming a veritable superman who carries trunks with a single finger. The camera here weaves and wanders in and out of focus in a nice duplication of a drunken stupor.

Timothy Brock's music score is the final piece that makes this classic live. Centered on a mournful solo cello, the score beautifully underlines the action without being obtrusive or Mickey-Mousing.

Running time is over 3 minutes shorter than the 91 minutes stated on the case.

Rating for Style: A
Rating for Substance: B+

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: The transfer is a little bit over-contrasted in spots; highlights on occasion wipe out detail in a white glow. There is very good detail in the scenes which do not suffer from excessive contrast. The source print is in very good condition indeed, with only a few nicks and scratches. The film is presented in black and white, without any tints.

Image Transfer Grade: C+

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0(silent)no


Audio Transfer Review: The orchestral score is quiet and hiss-free. Excellent range and resonance comes through, without distortion of any kind. The bass is emphatic without being overbearing. No particular directionality was observed, but the sound is very good. As noted above, it supports the film very nicely.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 12 cues and remote access
Packaging: other
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Reproduction of promotional card
  2. Slide show of behind the scenes photos and production stills
  3. Alternate German version of the intertitles
Extras Review: The photo show (about three dozen pictures) has a very nice feature: after a few seconds, labels indicating who we're seeing appear on the picture. The insert with the chapter listing has a reproduction of an original promo card with a synopsis and a cast listing on it. It's unusual to get such an interesting bit of ephemera and I encourage inclusion of more such items on future DVD releases. It's particularly nice here, since the film itself has no cast listing beyond Jannings.

Wrapping up the package is the German version of the intertitle regarding the ending, and of the inserts of a newspaper story. Whereas these appear in type in English in the film (the newspaper shots looking like a real paper), the German version has them merely done in calligraphy which, while attractive, is far less effective. It's not clear whether these are the original intertitles or later insertions to a print, but I much prefer the presentation as it is in the feature. Chaptering is not quite adequate, and the lack of an essay or any production notes hurts the release a little.

Extras Grade: D+

 

Final Comments

One of the great classics of the silent cinema, in an attractive transfer with good sound. Extras are a little slim, but recommended nonetheless.

 


Back to top

Search 10,000+ titles:

or Advanced Search

DVD REVIEW ARCHIVE


Get FREE Shipping on all orders at TimeLife.com! - 120x90

 



Microsoft Store

Keywords

television, fx, fargo, martin freeman, billy bob thornton, allison tolman, animation, drama, tca awards, breaking bad, true detective, matther mcconaughey, hbo, music, itunes festival 2014, september, pharrell williams, kylie minogue, maroon 5, david guetta, sam smith, blondie, beck, kasabian, movie, philip seymour hoffman, february death, cooper, tallulah, willa, mimi odonnell, james cahill jr., david friedman, box office, movies, action, app, james garner, maverick, the rockford files, devine secrets of the ya-ya sisterhood, 8 simple rules, the children's hour, doris day, reality, marvel comics, thor, femail, god of thunder, mjolmir, super hero, horror, johnny winter, blues guitar player, zurich switzerland, johnny winter album, willie dixon, walter horton, sex tape, the purge: anarchy, planes: fire & rescue, dawn of the planet of the apes, documentary, soccer, world cup, germany, argentina, mario goetze, dancing with the stars, abc, cheryl burke, botox, no eating disorder, no plastic surgery, simian flu, matt reeves, rick jaffa, amada silver, mark bomback, andy serkis, jason clark, keri russell, kodi smit-mcphee and gary oldman, daytime talk, the view, rosie o'donnell. whoopi goldberg, elisabeth hasselbeck, emmy nominations, game of thrones, house of cards, celebrity, good morning america, ellen degeneres, women's wear daily, e.d., portia di rossi, on-line retail, mystery

On Kindle!
On Facbook!
digitallyOBSESSED!
digitallyOBSESSED!
Promote Your Page Too
Become a Reviewer | Search | Review Vault | Reviewers
Readers | Webmasters | Privacy | Contact