Saturday, June 8, 2024

Silent Summer: The last laugh (1924) FW Murnau

 Can a Murnau film with Emil Jennings go wrong? Nope, but it can sure go right. This is the height of silent cinema. The acting is outstanding, the sets are breathtaking, the cinematography is draws you in and keeps you in.

The story is very simple, hard to believe such a good film is based around something that should be mundane. A doorman loses his job at a famous hotel. That is basically it. He is deemed too old by his cold hearted boss and demoted to washroom attendant. When his neighbours find out they mock him and doubt he was ever the doorman and was just trying to make himself seem important. Jennings gives his typical top drawer performance and brings humour and pathos to the character. 

This is spoiler (the film is 100 years old this year but I doubt too many know it now). 

At the end, the humiliated doorman reads in the newspaper that he inherited a fortune from  a patron who died in his arms in the hotel washroom and shares his wealth by going back t the hotel and treating the staff to generous tips. Especially the night watchman who was the only one there who teated him kindly. 

This is one of those films that will amaze anyone not familiar with the silent era and think they are all overacted, sped up comedies. Its hard to imagine that the street shots are actually sets, they have a realism you don't expect and the editing, effects and compositions are far beyond what anyone would think of as "early cinema". 

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