Monsieur Verdoux [Import]
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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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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.Read more ›
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.
Criterion offers a special edition worthy of our time. The picture is almost pitch perfect, the re-master has been done with attention and quality and shouldn't disappoint fans of black and white celluloid cinema. As far as sound is concerned, no need to worry on that front. Superb clarity of dialogs, beautiful balance of music and sound effects, all makes for a wonderful immersion in Chaplin's murderous downward spiral.
Special features are also in great servings. Warner's former documentary is back along with two new Criterion featurettes, radio ads and trailers.
If you have yet to experience Chaplin out of his little tramp character, let this be THE film to consider.
Most recent customer reviews
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
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
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
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