WriterWalter Anthony, James Ashmore Creelman Release dateNovember 1929 (1929-11) (US)
The Last Performance is a 1929 film directed by Paul Fejos and starring Conrad Veidt and Mary Philbin. It was the last American silent film featuring Veidt before he returned to Germany. Two versions were made - a silent version and Movietone version complete with music, talking sequences, and sound effects. The silent version was first played at the Variety at the Little Carnegie Theater in New York City in November 1929. The silent version (with Danish title cards) was released by the Criterion Collection on Blu-ray and DVD with Fejos' Lonesome in August 2012. The Last Performance was shot on the same set as the 1925 film The Phantom of the Opera, and contained an early use of zoom effects. The film received mixed reviews.
In the film, Conrad Veidt stars as Erik the Great, a sinister stage Magician who falls in love with a woman half his age, Julie, played by Mary Philbin. A young thief, Mark Royce (played by Fred MacKaye) is caught stealing from Erik's apartment and is taken in at Julie's suggestion. Secretly she falls in love with the new apprentice. However, Erik's other apprentice, Buffo (played by Leslie Fenton) becomes aware of Julie's love for Mark, and driven by jealousy tells his master. Buffo is later found killed, and Mark is the prime suspect.
William H. Turner
Sam De Grasse
The film received mixed reviews. While Photoplay wrote "Conrad Veidt as a magician in a much over-acted and over-directed film", The New York Times on 8 November 1929 wrote:
Dr. Fejos has handled his scenes with no small degree of imagination. Mr. Veidt's clever acting and Mary Philbin's captivating charm, this picture holds one's attention. Moreover, the narrative is developed with a certain force and skill. While some of the straight camera work is not up to scratch, there are a number of photographic feats that are quite effective. It is a picture that looks older than it really is, especially in the tinted portions where one goes from an amber interior scene to an azure blue night in the open.