Today, Emil Jannings would be nobody’s idea of a movie star; in contemporary Hollywood, the portly Everyman might be lucky to get John Goodman’s castoff roles. But in 1920s Germany, Jannings was top-billed, playing the fallen hero in such films as Variety. This 1925 melodrama, directed by E.A. Dupont, is a romantic-triangle tragedy set backstage at a Berlin vaudeville theater: Jannings is a former trapeze artist who turns to murder when his lover takes up with the troupe’s new attraction. Jannings was no gazelle, but he was at the center of the frame when pioneering cinematographer Karl Freund experimented with camera mobility—Freund even took the camera on a trapeze ride, an unprecedented move at the time. The film is double-billed with Paul Leni’s short drama, Backstairs, another saga of three-sided romance in the German expressionist style; in conjunction with the “Silent Movies From the Library of Congress” film series. The series runs to Monday, Nov. 26, at the Goethe-Institut Washington’s GoetheForum, 812 7th St. NW. $6. (202) 289-1200; see Showtimes for this week’s films; see goethe.de/ins/us/was/kue/flm/enindex.htm for a complete schedule.