Der letzte Mann

The Last Laugh
The old hotel porter at The Atlantic relishes the feeling of dignity and respect that his splendid uniform gives him. In front of the hotel’s revolving door he is a proud member of staff cheerily greeting the guests and, back home in his tenement building, he is a greatly admired man. But one day, the hotel manager notices the old porter struggling with the suitcases and decides to banish him to the basement, where the porter is now to work as a washroom attendant. Robbed of his pride, he decides to keep secret his demotion and not to tell his family and neighbours. When his daughter gets married, he steals his old uniform so that he can keep up appearances. When the whistle is blown on his sham he is humiliated and taunted by the other tenement dwellers and shunned by his family. A broken old man, he withdraws to the hotel washroom. Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau decided to add a happy ending to this story as follows: after the film’s only intertitle, a rich hotel guest dies in the washroom in the porter’s arms, leaving him his fortune. And so the ‘last man’ becomes an honoured hotel guest.

(Feb 13 on the piano: Eunice Martins / Feb 18 on the cinema organ: Peer Kleinschmidt)
by Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau
with Emil Jannings, Maly Delschaft, Max Hiller, Emilie Kurz
Germany (through 1945) 1924 88’