Entertainment Weekly - 06/03/1994
"...A study in contrasts....Somehow it all works..." -- Rating: A-
Chicago Sun-Times - 03/05/2000
"...It is certainly the film that made the most spectacular early use of movement....Murnau's technical mastery makes all of his films exciting to see..."
USA Today - 05/20/1994
"German director F.W. Murnau's second masterpiece is the film that liberated silent pictures from title cards..."
Sight and Sound - 02/01/2008
"[A] masterpiece of psychological acuity. It's also a masterclass in screen acting by Emil Jannings..."
New York Times - 10/06/2008
"A masterpiece of the German silent cinema....[Featuring] Murnau's innovative camera movements: sustained tracking and crane shots with a marvelous fluidity that helped establish an aesthetic alternative to the American montage style..."
Description by OLDIES.com:
The crowning achievement of the German expressionist movement and one of the most notable artworks to arise form the Weimar Republic is Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau's The Last Laugh.
Emil Jannings 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 identity and confidence. Through Janning'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, a phenomenon further enhanced by the contribution of Murnau and cinematographer Karl Freund.
Murnau (Nosferatu) and Freund (cinematographer on Tod Browning's 1931 Dracula) tempered their realistic depiction of the laborer's downfall with sequences of bold expressionistic design, contorting the doorman's angst into a nightmarish spectacle of mocking, leering faces and imposing tenement buildings that surround him on his long, shameful walk back to his apartment...a daily stroll that had once been a gratifying source of self-esteem.
Music composed and conducted by Timothy Brock, performed by the Olympia Chamber Orchestra.
One of the most brilliant of all German silent films, F.W. Murnau's THE LAST LAUGH uses a constantly moving and subjective camera to capture the emotional anguish of a man whose life is suddenly devoid of meaning. Because of his age, an elderly doorman at a hotel finds himself ignominiously demoted to washroom attendant. Particularly galling to the poor man is the loss of his uniform, which gives him pride and prestige. Crestfallen, he spends the day wandering the city, getting drunk and dreaming of suicide, mourning the loss of his dignity, and trying desperately to hang on to a shred of hope.
A silent film with musical score.
The original film score, composed by Giuseppe Becce, was lost. The new score was composed by Timothy Brock and recorded with the Olympia Symphony Orchestra in 1993.
Part of Kino Video's "Treasures from the Weimar Republic" series.
According to Georges Sadoul in his "Dictionary of Cinema", studio head Carl Laemmle has one problem with the film's popularity: "Everybody knows that a lavatory attendant makes a lot more money than a doorman."