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Monsieur Verdoux

 Unrated   DVD
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
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Product Description


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

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.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Chaplin's most controversial film... Nov. 19 2013
By Simon Bergeron TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Blu-ray|Verified Purchase
If you thought 1940's "The Great Dictator" was outrageous, you wait until you see "Monsieur Verdoux". From an idea by Orson Welles, Charles Chaplin abandons ALL that made him the little tramp, grew wiskers for the first time on film and plays a remorseless serial killer with terrifying life philosophy. Still, Chaplin allows us to see much comedy, beautiful cinematography, and arguably one of his best efforts outside his Tramp films.

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.
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4.0 out of 5 stars a story about the nature of love in modern life Oct. 14 2012
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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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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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
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"
5.0 out of 5 stars charlie you have a dark side
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 more
Published on Feb. 3 2004 by Ryan Sanders
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 9 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
4.0 out of 5 stars Monsieur Verdoux-Thought provoking
Monsier Verdoux is an offbeat black comedy which keeps the most refined sentiments and the darkest brutality in constant contrast. Read more
Published on Sept. 1 1999
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