Monsieur Verdoux

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"A Comedy of Murders."
  • Passed
  • 1947
  • 2 hr 4 min
  • 7.8  (18,964)

Monsieur Verdoux is a 1947 black comedy movie directed and produced by Charlie Chaplin. The movie is a stark departure from his usual slapstick comedy, marking a more mature and cynical phase of his career. The movie centers around a fictional character Henri Verdoux, a suave and charming Frenchman, who turns to murder to make ends meet.

Set in the backdrop of the Great Depression, the movie explores themes of poverty, morality, and survival. Henri Verdoux, played by Chaplin himself, is a former bank clerk, who lost his job due to bank failures. He then starts living as a bigamist and tricking wealthy widows into giving him their life savings before killing them for their money. He justifies his actions by asserting that he is only taking from the rich who are responsible for the economic downfall, ultimately embodying the harsh reality of capitalism.

The movie, however, takes a turn when Verdoux meets Annabella Bonheur (Mady Correll), a beautiful and wealthy widow, with whom he falls in love. Breaking his usual modus operandi, Verdoux decides to spare her life, causing him to be caught in a tangled web of lies and deceit.

Monsieur Verdoux is a bleak and daring movie, commenting on the horrors of war and capitalism. Chaplin manages to navigate the tone between humor and tragedy effortlessly, creating a complex character that blurs the lines between a villain and a main character. Chaplin’s persona, ‘The Tramp’, is practically absent in this movie, as the audience sees him reflecting on the harsh realities of a cruel world.

The movie’s soundtrack is an amalgamation of melodramatic orchestral scores, jazz, and pleasant melodies that further adds to the wistful undertones. The cinematography is sharp and eery, often utilizing stark contrast lighting to highlight the somber moments.

The performances in the film are another highlight. Chaplin’s Henry Verdoux is an enigmatic character, who keeps the audience guessing about his motives and intents throughout the movie. Mady Correll portrays Annabella with ease, capturing her vulnerability and naiveté with a controlled performance. Allison Roddan, who played Verdoux’s shy and awkward neighbor is another standout. Her simple and kind-hearted demeanor helps soften the mood in the otherwise dark movie.

Despite being critically lauded for Chaplin’s experimentation with a new genre, the film faced plenty of criticism for going against the tide of the normalcy of the era. With World War II coming to an end, the audiences and critics preferred happy endings, dance numbers, and larger-than-life heroes. Monsieur Verdoux dared to be different, exposing the underbelly of society and the fallacy of humanity.

In conclusion, Monsieur Verdoux is an unapologetic and remorseless satire of capitalism that offers a simple and pointed moral tale. The movie pleads for empathy and understanding without shying away from the brutal reality of the world we live in. It is a rarity of a movie which takes a deep introspective look into humanity's darkest secrets delivered with the humor of a comedic genius. It is a classic that deserves its spot as one of the masterpiece creations of Charles Chaplin's work.

Monsieur Verdoux is a 1947 comedy with a runtime of 2 hours and 4 minutes. It has received mostly positive reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.8.

Monsieur Verdoux
Where to Watch Monsieur Verdoux
Monsieur Verdoux is available to watch free on Tubi TV and Kanopy. It's also available to stream, download and buy on demand at Amazon Prime, Max, Apple TV and Amazon. Some platforms allow you to rent Monsieur Verdoux for a limited time or purchase the movie and download it to your device.
  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    2 hr 4 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.8  (18,964)