Emil Jannings won the first Best Actor Oscar for his performances in The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh (pictured). Jannings' impressive performance as a Russian general in The Last Command is available on video, but no prints of The Way of All Flesh are known to exist. In The Way of All Flesh, Jannings plays a respected bank cashier who is ruined after being seduced by a tramp named Mayme, a role that is reminiscent of his star-making performances in The Last Laugh (1924) and Variety (1925), and of his most famous role in The Blue Angel (1930).

Both of Jannings' Best Actor-winning films were listed as Best Picture nominees until the mid 1970s, when the Academy reviewed the earliest nominations and struck both The Last Command and The Way of All Flesh from the "official" record of Best Picture nominees, although most listings still include both films in that category.

Jannings starred in another lost Best Picture nominee, The Patriot. Only one reel of the Ernst Lubitsch film is known to survive (preserved at the Portuguese Film Archive), despite receiving the most nominations in 1928/29, including a Best Actor nomination for Lewis Stone in the supporting role of Count Pahlen (supporting Oscars would not be awarded until 1936). Stone's nomination (and Jannings' omission) is regarded with some puzzlement today, as Jannings' performance in the lead role of Czar Paul I was considered to be not only the strongest performance in the film by the film's contemporary critics, but one of the greatest performances in the history of silent cinema.

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