An ending in search of a story, The Last Command is gorgeous to look at but hasn’t a brain in its pretty head. William Powell and Emil Jannings try their darndest but the film simply isn’t as smart or as deep as it thinks it is.
The film is yet another Russian Revolution yarn and no associated trope or cliche is left in the box. The grande finale of madness and death is indeed something to see but getting there is a tremendous slog what with the trite love story and the dinky stakes.
How does it end? Hover or tap below for a spoiler.
While playing a role in a Russian-themed Hollywood picture, Jannings goes mad and dies delivering his last command.
If it were a dessert it would be: Ham and Bananas Hollandaise. A ham-festooned affair with pretensions of sophistication.
Availability: Released on DVD by the Criterion Collection as part of their silent von Sternberg box set.