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Monsieur Verdoux

Charles Chaplin , Mady Correll , Charles Chaplin    DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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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.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of Chaplin's highest achievements. May 14 2004
By D. Mok
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
4.0 out of 5 stars Monsieur Verdoux-Thought provoking Sept. 1 1999
By A Customer
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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5.0 out of 5 stars charlie you have a dark side Feb. 3 2004
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. The movie has violence for its time but it knows its limits. Fired bank clerk Henri Verdoux makes money after that by well real estate, stock market, And oh yeah marrying wives and murdering them. With these violent actions no one liked it when it came out in April 1947 because charlie is a murderer. It feels a little bit better now but some people like me really like it. Charlie was a communist supporter with him being a murderer in this movie he had to leave the us with the start of the cold war. In 1952 on a ship with his 4th and last wife oona going to england for the premire of limelight(I also gave that 5 stars) 2 days after the ship left he found out he cant come back to the us. he only went back to america for an honorary oscar in 1972. Other than that He lived in swissaland until his death on Christmas day 1977
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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 murdered a newly acquired wife. Monsieur Verdoux is driven to commit murder as he feels determined to provide the best possible life style for his family. However, Monsieur Verdoux is lost in his determination as it clouds his moral decision making, which he recognizes. Monsieur Verdoux is the darkest of Charles Chaplin's films, and as in his other films it offers a social message. This ominous message becomes apparent from the beginning of the film as Monsieur Verdoux's gravestone is depicted in the initial shot with Chaplin's voiceover that embarks on how he ended up here. Chaplin's direction offers both tragedy and comedy which in the end leaves the audience with a charming, yet disturbing cinematic experience.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin's most controversial film...
If you thought 1940's "The Great Dictator" was outrageous, you wait until you see "Monsieur Verdoux". Read more
Published 12 months ago by Simon Bergeron
4.0 out of 5 stars a story about the nature of love in modern life
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... Read more
Published on Oct. 14 2012 by Anthony Marinelli
3.0 out of 5 stars Reveals much about Chaplin
According to the commentary included with this 1947 film, Chaplin considered Monsieur Verdoux one of his best films. Read more
Published on Dec 15 2008 by Michael W. Perry
1.0 out of 5 stars Plagiarism Alert!
I must take offense to scotsladdie's November 2001 "review" of "Monsieur Verdoux," since its ripped off almost verbatim from David Shipman's excellent book "Story of Cinema," which... Read more
Published on July 11 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars message for 2004 and more.
A well written movie with twists and turns. It teaches a good lesson for 2004 and beyond.
Published on Feb. 6 2004 by "vma234"
1.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin, the amoral windbag
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 more
Published on Dec 24 2001 by Ingalls
5.0 out of 5 stars BLACK COMEDY A'LA CHAPLIN.
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 more
Published on Nov. 19 2001 by "scotsladdie"
5.0 out of 5 stars An underrated masterpiece.
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 more
Published on Dec 8 1999 by Roy Dryden
4.0 out of 5 stars Monsieur Verdoux: To be taken seriously or not?
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 more
Published on Oct. 11 1999
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