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The Last Man on Earth

Last Man on Earth, The (1924) Movie Poster
USA  •    •  70m  •    •  Directed by: John G. Blystone.  •  Starring: Earle Foxe, Grace Cunard, Gladys Tennyson, Derelys Perdue, Maurice Murphy, Clarissa Selwynne, Fay Holderness, Marion Aye, Harry Dunkinson, Marie Astaire, Pauline French, Jean Johnston, William Steele.  •  Music by: Erno Rapee.
     An epidemic has killed off all of the fertile men on earth, except for Elmer Smith, a hillbilly who lives out in a cabin in the Ozarks, when he is discovered, every woman on the planet begins fighting over him.

Review:

Image from: Last Man on Earth, The (1924)
Image from: Last Man on Earth, The (1924)
Image from: Last Man on Earth, The (1924)
Image from: Last Man on Earth, The (1924)
Image from: Last Man on Earth, The (1924)
The 1924 silent movie 'The Last Man on Earth' is one of those ideas that just won't go away: suppose there was only one fertile male on Earth, and all the women fought over his services? This same gimmick showed up again in the 1933 semi-musical film "It's Great to Be Alive" and yet again in Pat Frank's 1946 novel 'Mr Adam', which was briefly a best-seller. 'The Last Man on Earth' is better than the former but definitely inferior to the latter.

This movie takes place in the far-future year of 1960, when women wear strange Jetsons-like outfits. A mysterious plague, called male-itis, has ravaged the Earth, killing all males over the age of 14. (This arbitrary age in the silent-film intertitles is obviously a circumlocution for puberty.) A female scientist named Dr Prodwell develops a serum which will immunise prepubescent boys, but it also ensures that they'll remain sterile.

Womankind takes over the Earth, and of course it gives this movie (made only 5 years after women got the vote) an opportunity for some witless jokes about women's ability to govern themselves. The United States is governed by a "Presidentess" who is also the First Lady. With no men handy, she lets the White House lawn grow unkempt and weedy (apparently lawn-mowing is men's work) while the White House is over-run by cats. (Anticipating 'Logan's Run', in which the Senate is over-run by cats.)

An aviatrix (Grace Cunard), flying over a remote area in the Ozarks, spots a smoking chimney. Landing to investigate, she discovers Elmer Smith, a bearded hillbilly in his thirties... apparently fertile and immune to male-itis. But Elmer would rather stay in the sticks with his sweet-patootie Hattie, so some tough women knock him out and sling him into the, erm, cockpit of a waiting aeroplane.

There's a very kinky sequence in which Elmer is taken to a hospital with an all-female staff, where he is forcibly shaved, stripped and subjected to a medical examination under the stern gaze of Dr Prodwell. This is followed by a semi-kinky gymnasium sequence in which a couple of fetching damsels put on boxing gloves and beat the bejeezus out of Elmer while Dr Prodwell watches approvingly. Next thing we know, the "Senatoress" from Massachusetts and the "Senatoress" from California are posing in bathing cozzies, urging Elmer to choose one of them as his consort. Elmer just wants to go home to Hattie.

This is a weird movie. I laughed through most of it, but I don't think I was laughing for the reasons which the makers of this movie originally intended. I'll rate 'The Last Man on Earth' 7 out of 10, but you're much better off reading Pat Frank's novel 'Mr Adam'.


Review by F Gwynplaine MacIntyre from the Internet Movie Database.