Friday, September 18, 2009

The Last Command

Viimeinen määräys / Sista kommandot. US (c) 1928 Paramount Famous Lasky Corp. Pres: Adolph Zukor, Jesse L. Lasky. Supervisor: J.G. Bachmann. Associate P: B.P. Schulberg. D: Josef von Sternberg. SC and Adaptation: John F. Goodrich - from a story by Lajos Biró - intertitles: Herman J. Mankiewicz. DP: Bert Glennon. AD: Hans Dreier. CAST: Emil Jannings (Grand Duke Sergius Alexander), Evelyn Brent (Natacha Dabrova), William Powell (Leo Andreyev). 2410 m /22 fps/ 96 min. A DFI print viewed at Cinema Orion, Helsinki, 17 Sep 2009. - A soft print with low contrast. - A favourite Sternberg masterpiece of mine revisited (30 minutes from the beginning). Sternberg is in brilliant command of the means of expression in late silent cinema. The breadlines of Hollywood. The circumstances of the extras. The eve of revolution in Russia. - The moving camera, the montage, the expressive close-up. - Emil Jannings had had great directors before, notably Ernst Lubitsch and F.W. Murnau, but his greatest director was Sternberg in The Last Command and Der Blaue Engel. Sternberg dared to expose his extremes as the mighty man at the height of his prestige, and the crushed man who descends into madness, degradation and the gutter. - There is a connection between this concept and Orson Welles (his favourite theme of the mighty man who is bound to perish), and a direct link is Herman J. Mankiewicz.

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