Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Movie of the Week – Monsieur Verdoux

This week’s movie: Monsieur Verdoux (1947)

Henri Verdoux is a suave operator who turns to a life of crime after losing his job as a bank teller, needing to support his wife and child. His crime of choice? He marries and murders rich women for their money.

Monsieur Verdoux is auteur Charles Chaplin’s final film that he made in America before being essentially deported. It is also one of his best (and most under seen). He got the idea from Orson Welles and developed it into a dark comedy. He worked with frequent collaborator cinematographer Roland Totheroh on the film, which he scored himself.

Chaplin stars in the film as Verdoux, and Mady Correll, Martha Ray, Isobel Elsom, Margaret Hoffman, and Marilyn Nash feature in support.

The film is Chaplin’s second talkie and features an excellent performance from Chaplin. It is very funny, but more so has real dramatic weight as well. Verdoux is a complex character. He is a murderer, but somehow he is sympathetic. The film was a complete failure in America as the media and powerful political figures had waged a successful war against Chaplin, destroying his public image and popularity, pegging him as a deviant and communist. Monsieur Verdoux did not help his case as it ends on a very political note, as the main character faces the guillotine and pleads that humanity turn away from violence and embrace peace and goodwill towards all men. Not the message Americans wanted to hear on the eve of the Cold War. Nevertheless, it is a wonderful film that has now found a cult following. It is a must-see for Chaplin fans.

Trailer: Here
Available on: Blu-ray and Video On-Demand

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