best film: Blue Angel but to be fair I’ve only seen Faust and The Last Laugh (the two Murnau films with Jannings) once so I look forward to revisiting. Blue Angel is Von Sternberg’s most visually ambitious film. It’s a film I talk about and reference often when praising an auteur or film’s mise-en-scene. It was Dietrich’s first film, Jannings’ first in Germany and a landmark masterpiece.
best performance: Blue Angel and it’s another tough call because Jannings is superb in all five of his films. In Blue Angel he undergoes a haunting transformation. He starts out as a resolute and very moral professor/teacher and ends up as a defenseless cuckold chasing around after Dietrich—completely under her spell. It’s a powerful performance.
stylistic innovations/traits: Swiss-born Jannings is now most remembered as a Nazi (praised by Goebbels). He’s a stout man and undeniable talent. He was the winner of the first Oscar for best actor and blacklisted after the world—never made another film. In his brief archiveable filmography (many of the films simply don’t exist anymore) he’s breathtakingly good (Blue Angel and Last Laugh especially). It didn’t hurt that he was working with Von Sternberg and Murnau at the height of their respective powers.
directors worked with: Von Sternberg (2) and Murnau (2)
Top 5 Performances:
- Blue Angel
- The Last Laugh
- The Last Command
|1924- The Last Laugh|
|1928- The Last Command|
|1930- Blue Angel|