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.