Der letzte Mann [The Last Laugh] (1924) + ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester / Frank Strobel

Der letzte Mann (literally: The Last Man)
Director: F.W. Murnau
Writer: Carl Mayer
Cast: Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Max Hiller, Emilie Kurz, Hans Unterkircher, Olaf Storm
Part of: Film and Music Cycle in the Konzerthaus
With music by Giuseppe Becce, played be the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester, conducted by Frank Strobel
Seen on: 23.5.2019
[Here’s my first review.]

Plot:
The Doorman (Emil Jannings) has been working in the big hotel for a very long time and he takes a lot of pride in his job. But he is also getting old. After carrying a particularly heavy suitcase, he has to take a break – which the Hotel Manager (Hans Unterkircher) sees. He decides that the Doorman isn’t up to the task anymore and that he should do something less strenuous, so he makes him washroom clerk. But the Doorman can’t handle the demotion this means and starts to unravel.

When I first saw Der letzte Mann, I was completely blown away by it, so when it was announced as part of the Film and Music Cycle, I was pretty excited to see it again. Thankfully, the film lived up to my memories of it and the accompaniment of the ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester was also really good.

The film poster showing a drawing of the Doorman (Emil Jannings) whose uniform jacket is pulled from his body by two giant blue hands.

I was utterly impressed with Jannings’ performance the first time I saw the film, and it left me absolutely breathless the second time. He is so fantastic, making you feel every second of the Doorman’s troubles, but also his joy. I also still loved the ending that is so unusual and abrupt and fits the film so very perfectly.

What did strike me differently this time around was the homoerotic subtext here. I was so busy with Jannings on his own the last time I saw the film, I didn’t actually notice the subtext. This time it seemed so blatant, there was no denying it. And I really loved it as well.

The Doorman (Emil Jannings) checking his beard.

I am not sure whether I saw the film with Becce’s music when I saw it the last time, but I think so. In any case, hearing the music played live by the Radio-Symphonieorchester is definitely a special treat and it rounded out the film perfectly.

Der letzte Mann is overall such a beautiful, human and very sad film, I can only recommend that you watch it. And marvel at Jannings while you do.

The Doorman (Emil Jannings) relegated to washroom clerk.

Summarizing: wonderful.

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