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Friday, September 21, 2012

The Last Performance (1929)

A famed stage magician (Conrad Veidt) is in love with the young woman (Mary Philbin, PHANTOM OF THE OPERA) who is his stage assistant. When he takes a young thief (Fred MacKaye) under his wing at the request of his fiancee and reforms him, he fails to see that they are falling in love. But his malevolent other assistant (Leslie Fenton) sees to it that Veidt finds out. One of a handful of American films by the Hungarian director Paul Fejos (LONESOME), it's not a particularly innovative or stimulating film but it does have a strong central performance by Veidt that's very good. Fejos does devise one rather thrilling sequence, a panning shot of an hysterical audience then moving backstage after an on stage killing. The cinematography is by Hal Mohr (RANCHO NOTORIOUS). Apparently two versions were filmed, a silent version (which is the one I saw) and one with a music score, some dialog and sound effects though this version seems to no longer exist.

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