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The Last Laugh (Restored Deluxe Edition)

4.5 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Two-DVD Deluxe Edition - The crowning achievement of the German expressionist movement is F.W. Myrna's THE LAST LAUGH. Emil Jennings stars in the bleak fable of an aging doorman whose happiness crumbles when he is relieved of the duties and uniform which had for years been the foundation of his happiness and pride. Through Jennings's colossal performance, THE LAST LAUGH becomes more than the plight of a single doorman, but a mournful dramatization of the frustration and anguish of the universal working class. Restored in 2003 by Lucian Berretta and the Friedrich Wilhelm Myrna Sifting, this Kino edition is the definitive version of a silent masterwork, presented with unprecedented clarity and a new orchestral recording of the original 1924 score. Photographed by Karl Freund (Cinematographer of Tod Browning s 1931 Dracula).

SPECIAL FEATURES:

-Two-DVD edition featuring both THE RESTORED GERMAN VERSION and THE UNRESTORED EXPORT EDITION
- New recording of the original score by Giuseppe Becce, available in 5.1 Stereo Surround or 2.0 Stereo
- The Making of THE LAST LAUGH; a 40-minute documentary
- Original German title sequences
- Image Gallery

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Emil Jannings
  • Directors: F.W. Murnau
  • Format: Multiple Formats, AC-3, Black & White, Dolby, NTSC, Silent, Subtitled
  • Subtitles: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 2
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: KINO INTERNATIONAL
  • DVD Release Date: September 30, 2008
  • Run Time: 90 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (58 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B001CD6HQA
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,078 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
The lack of sound in a silent film often heightens the emotional intensity rather than diminishing it; such is the case in THE LAST LAUGH, a film that turns a rather mundane premise (an old man loses his job) into a visually potent and emotionally powerful experience. The absence of sound, and in fact, the near absence of words via title cards, is especially appropriate for the film's depiction of loneliness, despair, and mental stupor. Sound could add little, if anything at all, to the towering performance by Emil Jannings (who was actually much younger than his character), who conveys a wide array of emotions with only body gestures and facial expressions.
To correct the technical info above, this Kino DVD edition is for ALL REGIONS. It also contains some extra material: an excerpt from the German version showing the "epilogue" title card in German, and a still gallery. The picture of this DVD looks exactly the same as that of the Criterion laserdisc made in '93 -- picture is in good shape overall, but the image often looks soft, and details are sometimes hard to make out. While playing the disc on a PC with a software DVD player, I have to turn on "force BOB mode" in order to eliminate the frequent motion artifacts. On my non-progressive scan standalone DVD player, however, I do not see any motion artifacts, but paused frames are sometimes unstable and jittery.
The score on the LD, composed by Timothy Brock, is also used for the DVD. The running time of 91 minutes shown on the DVD case is incorrect. It runs 88 minutes, same as the Criterion LD. I was surprised that the PCFriendly software is included on this disc (and it will auto-run on your PC), but there is no DVD-ROM feature at all.
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Format: DVD
F.W. Murnau didn't have a typical storyline - he could do pure Gothic horror as in Nosferatu, social commentary as in Phantom, fantasy with a religious theme as in Faust, and the redemption of love as in Sunrise. What ties Murnau's work together is its imagery. He excelled at it as few directors ever did. "The Last Laugh" is a tale about an older man who is proud of his position as doorman at a prominent German hotel. One night he has had to carry some heavy luggage as part of his duties and he takes a break. As luck would have it, his supervisor sees him taking this short rest and assumes the worst. The next day the old man is reassigned to the job of washroom attendant. He does his best to hide his change of position from his friends, but they find out anyway. To make matters worse, they assume he's always been lying about his job and that he has thus always been a washroom attendant. At this point you might wonder - why exactly is this film named The Last Laugh? There is a somewhat tacked on ending that is the foundation of the film's title. I won't spoil it for you.

This is a two disc edition because there are two versions of the film included. The extras include a 40 minute documentary on the making of The Last Laugh that was included with the last edition of the film that was in The F.W. Murnau Collection (Nosferatu/The Last Laugh/Faust/Tabu/Tartuffe). I thought that the video was perfectly clear on that version, so I'm curious to see what further remastering has done for the visual clarity of the film. The documentary is well-done and quite detailed.
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Format: DVD
When F.W. Murmau landed Emil Jannings to play the lead role in this movie, Jannings was perhaps THE most sought after actor in all of Weimar Germany.

It was the 1920s and the era in which Jannings would also play the Devil himself in Faust (also directed by Murnau) and for his part Murnau would also direct the justly famous Nosferatu as well as Sunrise which would share honors at the first ever Academy Awards ceremonies.

By 1931 Murnau would be dead in a tragic car accident and by the 1930s Jannings would ironically sell his soul to the Devil by acting in Third Reich propaganda movies. By the end of World War II Jannings would be out of film until his death.

In other words, when doing this movie both these extremely talented men were at the very top of their creative peak.

And it shows.

Ostensibly the boring story of a hotel doorman who loses his job because he's too old, Jannings brings every minute he's on screen to life with his vivid characterizations. The movie has very few title cards and frankly doesn't need them owing to the way in which Jannings so consistently and expertly keeps the audience visually on board with what's going on.

In deference to the few who don't know why this movie is entitled The Last Laugh I will simply say that this movie is worth watching to the end.
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Format: DVD
I saw this film at a time when I was kind of down and out, and it really meant something at the time. It's one of the most beautiful, sad, haunting, and innovative silent films ever made. It is also famous for the fact it is told (except for one) without title cards. It is told with nothing but visual imagery. It concerns itself with a doorman who ends up being demoted to washroom attendant. The man (played brilliantly by Emil Jannings) is very proud of himself and his station, then is told that he is being demoted simply to make room for the young guard. You really feel for Jennings's character. How often are you passed over for a promotion or feel that your long tenure of service is not appreciated? Murnau treats the subject with a deep humanism, making the film more powerful.

The cinematography is outstanding. Murnau's framing is immaculate, and it's to his credit that his visual style is so acute that he can tell this story with only images. There is only one title card, but it's a rather self conscious one, and it leads to the "happy" ending, which is so overplayed and boisterous one thinks that Murnau is just placing it as a farce. I admit I don't really like it very much, but it doesn't ruin the film at all. This is one of my all time favorite silent films, and my favorite Murnau film.
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The Last Laugh (Restored Deluxe Edition)
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