The Way of All Flesh (1927) - Rotten Tomatoes

The Way of All Flesh (1927)



Critic Consensus: A weakness for melodrama dampens its impact, but Emil Jannings' outstanding performance makes The Way of All Flesh worth following.

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Movie Info

Bank clerk August Schiller (Emil Jannings in his American screen debut) is known as a model husband and father. His idyllic life abruptly changes when he is sent from Milwaukee to Chicago to deliver a packet of bonds; it is first time on a solo trip since he married his wife years before. There he meets a seductive young woman who plies him with liquor and steals the bonds. Later, she calls in her beau to beat up August. During the scuffle, the thug is killed. Wanting to protect his family from scandal, August dons the crook's clothing and disappears. Meanwhile the papers announce his courage in death. Over the years, his life goes into a rapid decline until the penniless August is forced to live on the streets. One day, he learns that his son has become an internationally famous violinist. Poor August is barely able to beg people into giving him enough money to buy a ticket. The story ends on a windy Christmas morning with the decrepit and sorrowful August staring wistfully through a window pane at his happy warm family's celebration.


Emil Jannings
as August Schiller
Jackie Coombs
as Heinrich
Fred Kohler
as The Tough
Belle Bennett
as Mrs. Schiller
Donald Keith
as August, Jr.
Betsy Ann Lisle
as Charlotte
Philippe DeLacy
as August, as a child
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Critic Reviews for The Way of All Flesh

All Critics (42) | Top Critics (16)

Great care has been shown in the backgrounds for this photodrama and meticulous attention to detail has been exercised.

July 14, 2021 | Full Review…

Are the early and middle portions of the picture good enough to outweigh the atrocious third section in which every known tear-inducer but the homely onion is tossed at the audience? Thinking it over calmly, we are inclined to answer in the affirmative.

July 14, 2021 | Full Review…

The producers have been so much afraid of launching the European Jannings without sufficient ballast of American hokum... that they have wasted much first-rate ability on what is essentially a maudlin film.

July 14, 2021 | Full Review…

The Way of All Flesh, poignant, powerful melodrama... proves only what we already know -- that Jannings is the greatest of all character actors among us.

May 20, 2021 | Full Review…

[Jannings] has the Chaplin humor and far more than the Chaplin pathos... He is a better villain than Wallace Beery. He rivals Chaney In the art of makeup. He is a composite of all the great, and himself the greatest of all.

May 20, 2021 | Full Review…

This film matters, because it foreruns a new, serious, and honourable kind of popular tragedy, using popular emotion, not exploiting it. Dignity has come into the American commercial film, and Vic Fleming deserves some credit for it.

May 20, 2021 | Full Review…

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