The Last Laugh (Der letzte Mann) is a German 1924 silent film directed by German director F. W. Murnau from a screenplay written by Carl Mayer which was based on a Broadway play by Charles W. Goddard. It is the most famous example of the short-lived Kammerspiel or "chamber-drama" genre.
This was one of the first films to incorporate a moving camera, although references to cameras following characters up stairs in Murnau's earlier (now lost) film, Der Januskopf, may point to an even earlier use. The set was built entirely within a studio, unusual for Murnau who preferred to shoot on location.
In 2000, it was added to Roger Ebert's list of Great Movies.
Jannings' character, the doorman for a famous hotel, is demoted to washroom (bathroom) attendant, as he is considered too old and infirm to be the image of the hotel. He tries to conceal his demotion from his friends and family, but to his shame, he is discovered. His friends, thinking he has lied to them all along about his prestigious job, taunt him mercilessly while his family rejects him out of shame. The man, shocked and in incredible grief, returns to the hotel to sleep in the bathroom where he works. The only person to be kind towards him is the night watchman, who covers him with his coat as he falls asleep.
Following this comes the film's only title card, which says: "Here the story should really end, for, in real life, the forlorn old man would have little to look forward to but death. The author took pity on him and has provided a quite improbable epilogue."
At the end, the doorman inherits a fortune and is able to dine happily at the same hotel he used to work for.
- Emil Jannings as 'Hotelportier' [hotel porter]
- Maly Delschaft as 'seine Nichte' [his niece]
- Max Hiller as 'ihr Bräutigam' [her bridgroom]
- Emilie Kurz as Bridegroom's aunt
- Hans Unterkircher as 'Geschäftsführer' [hotel manager]
- Olaf Storm as 'junger Gast' [young guest]
- Hermann Vallentin as 'spitzbäuchiger Gast' [guest with pot belly]
- Georg John as 'Nachtwächter' [night watchman]
- Emmy Wydaa as 'dünne Nachbarin' [thin neighbor]