The Last Performance (1929)


Personal opinion: “The Last Performance” is my second favourite silent film with Conrad. I was spellbound by the outstanding performance he gave as the mysterious, diabolical and vengeful magician. His costumes in his last silent film made in Hollywood are superb, and there are many Ross postcards of him wearing a tuxedo and sometimes a top hat. He co-stars again with the lovely Mary Philbin, and his friend Leslie Fenton plays the role of one of his assistants. The magic tricks and the hypnosis scene (which exists only in certain versions) make this film even more interesting to watch, and Conrad is the master of all. “The Last Performance” was partly a sound film, but the soundtrack is considered lost. Connie himself recorded some lines on the telephone, after he returned to Germany. A lot of footage is missing, including a memorable scene in which Erik the Great has a nervous breakdown and turns his room upside down, tearing his masks into pieces. There are several versions available, and the best one comes from the Hungarian Film Archive. The film is longer and in a better shape than the American version, but it deserves a complete restoration. It would be also great if the original soundtrack could be found. Perhaps this will be possible one day, just the way it happened with other of Conrad’s films that were considered incomplete or lost for good.


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