“The Last Command” highlights FOLA’s silent movie night

silent movie
“The Last Command” will be the FOLA silent movie Aug. 15. Photo provided

LUDLOW, Vt. – FOLA will continue its summer tradition of featuring a classic silent movie enhanced by the music of Jeff Rapsis Saturday, Aug. 17 at 7 p.m. in the Heald Auditorium of the Ludlow Town Hall.

The feature movie will be “The Last Command,” a 1928 silent film directed by Josef von Sternberg and written by John F. Goodrich and Herman J. Mankiewicz from a story by Lajos Bíró. Star Emil Jannings won the first Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role.

In 1928 Hollywood, director Leo Andreyev, played by William Powell, looks through photographs for actors for his next movie. When he comes to the picture of an aged Sergius Alexander, Emil Jannings, he pauses, then tells his assistant, Jack Raymond, to cast the man. Sergius shows up at the Eureka Studio with a horde of other extras and is issued a general’s uniform.

The film then flashes back 10 years to Czarist Russia, which is in the midst of the Revolution. Grand Duke Sergius Alexander is the Czar’s cousin and commander of all his armies. During a campaign against the Bolsheviks, the general is confronted by two enemy spies, Leo Andreyev and a beautiful woman, Natalie, played by Evelyn Brent. While he jails Leo, he falls in love with Natalie. He is then captured by the Bolsheviks. Natalie, in a plot to kill Sergius, discovers that she has fallen in love with the general and helps him escape from the train.

Ten years later, having fled to America, Sergius is reduced to poverty, eking out a living as a Hollywood extra. When he and the director finally meet, Sergius recognizes him. Leo, in an ironic act calculated to humiliate him, casts him as a Russian general in a battle scene.

Jeff Rapsis will be returning to Ludlow to provide the musical background to this classic silent drama. For more information, call 802-228-3238.

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