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Monsieur Verdoux (1947)

Not Rated | | Comedy, Crime, Drama | 8 December 1947 (Sweden)
A suave but cynical man supports his family by marrying and murdering rich women for their money, but the job has some occupational hazards.

Director:

Writers:

(an original story written by), (based on an idea by)
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Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 5 wins. See more awards »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
Mady Correll ...
Allison Roddan ...
...
Audrey Betz ...
Martha
...
...
Annette (as Ada-May)
Isobel Elsom ...
...
Maid
Helene Heigh ...
Yvonne - Marie's Friend
Margaret Hoffman ...
Lydia Floray
...
...
Pierre Couvais
Edwin Mills ...
Jean Couvais
Virginia Brissac ...
Carlotta Couvais
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Storyline

Monsieur Verdoux is a bluebeard, he marries women and kills them after the marriage to get the money he needs for his family. But with two ladies he has bad luck. Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

New hat. new coat, new pants, new shoes, new laughs, but the same great Charles Chaplin! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

8 December 1947 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

A Comedy of Murders  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$1,044, 11 July 2008, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$325,000

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$1,500,000
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Charles Chaplin regarded the film as "the cleverest and most brilliant film of my career." See more »

Goofs

Although the story takes place in the years 1932-1937, all the women's fashions and hairstyles are strictly in the 1946-1947 mode, when the film was made. See more »

Quotes

The Girl: However, tell me about yourself!
Henri Verdoux: I much prefer to talk about something pleasant.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

Humor Worth Pondering
10 March 2013 | by See all my reviews

A satire on a serial killer is not your everyday movie fare. I can see why audiences of that day were turned off by the Little Tramp's sudden homicidal turn. Of course, it's all treated with a light comedic hand until the moralizing end. Still, Chaplin's subtext comes through clearly at certain points—unemployment can drive men to extremes when they've got a family to support.

On the other hand, not every man, of course, turns to fleecing rich widows and then dispatching them in cold-blooded fashion. But that brings him to his second point—namely "numbers sanctify". Kill one person and you're a murderer; kill a thousand and you're a hero. Here it appears he's referring to the state that historically kills by the thousands in the name of the patriotism. Remember, the movie's coming right after the close of the horrific WWII, and he finds the point ironic.

But Verdoux's not through. Capitalism is indirectly indicted for its periodic booms and busts that lead to joblessness, and millions upon millions for munitions manufacturers who prosper during wartime. As for the consolations of religion that come at the end, the gentleman killer appears indifferent without being insulting. Since Chaplin's the sole screenwriter, it's no stretch to believe he's speaking for himself on these matters. Given this rather wholesale indictment of many of the West's leading institutions, small wonder he left the country shortly after under a cloud of controversy.

Nonetheless, the movie hits its comedic highpoints with Martha Raye as the loudly vulgar Annabella. Try as he does to do her in, she manages to comically thwart him at every turn. That scene in the fishing boat's a classic. All his polished charm and oily flattery just slide by her obnoxious silliness. Raye makes a perfect foil and an inspired piece of casting.

Of course, some of the beguiling Little Tramp remains in Verdoux's character, as when he befriends the penniless girl (Nash), or in that supremely ironic moment when he ambles Tramp-style toward the guillotine. All in all, it's a strange little movie that was apparently shelved for years for obvious reasons. Nonetheless, it was rather gutsy for Chaplin to take such chances with his established character and at Cold War's outset. It's fairly humorous until you think about its serious points, which are still worth pondering.


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