The Last Command

Live Piano Accompaniment by Yakov Gubanov
Screening on Film
Directed by Josef von Sternberg.
With Emil Jannings, Evelyn Brent.
US, 1928, 35mm, black & white, silent, 88 min.
Print source: HFA

J is for Jannings... At Last

The first of von Sternberg’s American masterpieces, The Last Command relates the story of a Czarist general defeated in the Russian Revolution who finds himself down and out in Hollywood, where he works as an extra in a film about the very political upheaval that stripped him of power. Perfectly cast, the film features a gripping, Oscar-winning performance by Emil Jannings (two years prior to his work with von Sternberg in The Blue Angel). Like all of von Sternberg’s films, this glittering, sophisticated work, as critic Tony Rayns has noted, is "expertly poised between satire and ‘absurd’ melodrama." American director Preston Sturges once referred to it as about the only perfect film he had ever seen.

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Cinema A–Z: Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive

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