Reform or Restoration of Patriarchal Authority? The Last Laugh (1955) as a Remake Starring Hans Albers
West German cinéastes were indignant when in 1955 director Harald Braun turned the experimental silent movie classic The Last Laugh (D: Friedrich Wilhelm Murnau, Germany 1924) into a light and sweet mainstream entertainment film. Instead of listing the remake’s artistic deficiencies, this essay aks what the fundamental changes in the plot can tell us about the West German fifties. While the viewers of 1924 could study the psychological and social consequences of the protagonist’s loss of his splendid uniform, the audiences of 1955 were confronted with a new justification of patriarchal authority. The »new father« who is presented in this movie resembles the picture drawn by contemporary West German sociologists who set out to find new forms of partnership in the shaken German families.