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Monsieur Verdoux

15 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Actors: Charles Chaplin, Mady Correll, Allison Roddan, Robert Lewis, Audrey Betz
  • Directors: Charles Chaplin
  • Writers: Charles Chaplin, Orson Welles
  • Producers: Charles Chaplin
  • Format: NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • MPAA Rating: UNRATED
  • Studio: Vid Canada
  • Release Date: May 16 2000
  • Run Time: 124 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 6305837104
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #186,715 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)
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Product Description

Product Description

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.

Customer Reviews

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By D. Mok on May 14 2004
Format: DVD
If the willingness to take risks is the mark of a great artist -- and I believe it is -- then Monsieur Verdoux is Charles Chaplin's greatest films. And amidst all the controversy stirred by his portrayal of a serial wife killer, it's easy to forget that it's also a hilarious black comedy with plenty of sharp lines that would have succeeded even without its sociological message.
Chaplin's ability as an actor is pushed to a new level on this film through his portrayal of a morally ambiguous, unscrupulous ex-bank clerk who has no qualms about putting a body into an incinerator in his backyard. While much has been said about this film's break with Chaplin's Little Tramp character, careful examination reveals that Henri Verdoux is just a logical, and daring, advancement in the character: The more devilish, sometimes sadistic sides of the Little Tramp taken to their inevitable conclusion, where comic mischief crosses over the line to villainy. And it's highly compelling, the perfect foil to Chaplin's most heartwarming films (eg. City Lights and Modern Times), allowing Chaplin to express an insidiousness hitherto unexplored. Martha Raye nearly steals the show as the airheaded, supernaturally unkillable Mme. Bonheur (the name itself means "happiness"), and Marilyn Nash is winning as the Belgian derelict who inspires a spark of compassion in Verdoux. The conclusion of this character relationship is one of Chaplin's most complex writing feats: Imagine the ending of City Lights twisted into a dark, steely, uncompromising version of itself.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on Sept. 1 1999
Format: VHS Tape
Monsier Verdoux is an offbeat black comedy which keeps the most refined sentiments and the darkest brutality in constant contrast. Chaplin depicts a dapper and clever fellow who has lost his job in the depression. He resorts to murdering women he has charmed and taking their fortunes to support his family. Always the gentleman with exquisite manners and apt philosophical quips, he nevertheless dispatches his victims with equal aplomb. His philosophical remarks appear at odd moments. While he is pumping a chemist friend about the formula for a poison, he remarks that "chemistry is the outward manisfestation of the metaphysical". He then proceedes to bring a girl off the street into his quarters as his intended victim. After setting a poisoned glass of wine on the table for her, she declares that life is beautiful despite all the wrong in the world, this promted by her belief that Verdoux is sincerely helping her. Verdoux is moved by the girl and leans over saying " I believe there is some cork in your wineglass, let me get another for you", therby saving her.
The movie has a charm, wit and intelligence to it. Critics who do not see this are too literal minded and seemingly cannot reconcile the contrast between the refinement and brutality of Verdoux. Of course they cannot be reconciled! They seem to expect a moral balance sheet to be closed out like an accountant. Verdoux is a thought provoking contradiction-perhaps a microcosm of civilization itself-full of art and noble impulses, but also of violence and injustice too.
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Format: DVD
Perhaps at the time it was released it wasnt really appreciated or viewed in the right way, and as in the talking chaplin films, which are different from the silents, it almost seems like a different performer. Here we have an orson welles story(for which he was paid, amidst his disintegrating divorce from Rita Hayworth) and its based on a true story of a french serial murderer but Chaplin makes changes from his source material. He changes his character from a lower class con man murderer to a philosopher murderer and develops an existential drama of modern life and values. The story begins and the depression is a backdrop, about the need to have a paycheque in the cities, where more and more people are moving to, and competition and how this effects modern life. Coupled with this in a later scene are a newspaper headline from the spanish civil war, and the fact that Chaplin's character has just lost his wife and child. This makes him very cynical about modern life and critical and opens up a series of relations with women who he in turn murders..and the people he meets reflect the world, men and women, rather than giving and kind they are looking for something else, and he meets a series of women who are not attractive and murders them for money..revenge on a past wrong or he finds something wrong with them?Read more ›
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