On one level, "Monsieur Verdoux" is the story of a fired French bank clerk who goes into business for himself marrying and murdering women for their money. On another level, the film is an indictment of war, in which, according to Verdoux, mass murder is legalized, celebrated and paraded. "Killing is the enterprise by which your system prospers," Verdoux says. "As a mass killer, I am an amateur by comparison." This evaluation was particularly apt in the case of the wife, played by the irrepressible Martha Raye. As Annabella, Raye is one spouse who simply refuses to be murdered, comically evading the deadly traps that Verdoux sets for her. A complete change of pace for Chaplin, "Monsieur Verdoux" was a critical and box office failure upon its release in 1947 as the public was not ready for a cynical antihero from the man who brought the world The Little Tramp. However, its re-release in 1964 set box office records as a new audience attuned to the pleasures of black comedy by "Dr. Strangelove" gave the film the reception it richly deserved.
This blistering little black comedy was well ahead of its time when released in 1947. Originally, Orson Welles had wanted Chaplin to star in his drama about a French mass murderer named Landru, but Chaplin was hesitant to act for another director, and used the idea himself. He plays a dapper gent named Henri Verdoux (who assumes a number of identities), a civilized monster who marries wealthy women, then murders them (as we meet him, he's gathering roses as an incinerator ominously bellows smoke in the background) and collects their money to support his real family. The Little Tramp is now a distant memory, though this was the first film not to feature Chaplin's beloved creation. Verdoux is largely viciously clever until it gets too heavy-handed, as evidenced when a woman he spares returns years later as the mistress of a munitions manufacturer. Ultimately, Chaplin breaks character (much as he did in The Great Dictator) to preach to the masses, declaring that against the machines of war that grip the planet, humble killer Verdoux is "an amateur by comparison." --David Kronke --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
If you thought 1940's "The Great Dictator" was outrageous, you wait until you see "Monsieur Verdoux". Read morePublished 21 months ago by Simon Bergeron
According to the commentary included with this 1947 film, Chaplin considered Monsieur Verdoux one of his best films. Read morePublished on Dec 15 2008 by Michael W. Perry
Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin) is a sad story about Monsieur Verdoux who is a swindling murderer that charms women whom he marries for their assets which he sells after he has... Read morePublished on March 31 2004 by Swederunner
A well written movie with twists and turns. It teaches a good lesson for 2004 and beyond.Published on Feb. 6 2004 by "vma234"
Wow did he actully do that wow this is a good movie if you want to see a very good black and white killing movie watch monsieur verdoux. Read morePublished on Feb. 3 2004 by Ryan Sanders
Chaplin became unbearable to those around him as he got older. He fancied himself an intellectual, a humanist, a philosopher, a great composer (actually, his arranger wrote his... Read morePublished on Dec 24 2001 by Ingles
It has been said that Orson Welles provided Chaplin with the idea of MONSIEUR VERDOUX and the latter seemed to have been attracted to Landru, the French Bluebeard, for his... Read morePublished on Nov. 19 2001 by "scotsladdie"
This was probably Chaplin's last great masterpiece. This film shows what a talented actor and director he was. I doubt Woody Allen ever could have pulled this off. Read morePublished on Dec 8 1999 by Roy Dryden
Looking further than the actual story of a serial woman-killer, viewers need to take into account that the story is set in France shortly after the second war, therefore Chaplin... Read morePublished on Oct. 11 1999