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Monsieur Verdoux (1947)

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Reviews: 69 user | 66 critic

A suave but cynical man supports his family by marrying and murdering rich women for their money, but the job has some occupational hazards.

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Title: Monsieur Verdoux (1947)

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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 ...
Mona - His Wife
Allison Roddan ...
Peter - Their Son
Robert Lewis ...
Maurice Bottello - Verdoux's Friend
Audrey Betz ...
Martha - His Wife
Martha Raye ...
Annabella Bonheur
Ada May ...
Annette - Her Maid (as Ada-May)
Isobel Elsom ...
Marie Grosnay
Marjorie Bennett ...
Her Maid
Helene Heigh ...
Yvonne - Marie's Friend
Margaret Hoffman ...
Lydia Floray
Marilyn Nash ...
The Girl
Irving Bacon ...
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:

A comedy of murders. The story of a modern French Bluebeard! 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  »

Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$1,044 (USA) (11 July 2008)

Gross:

$64,636 (USA) (28 June 2013)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The film was a colossal box-office flop on its 1947 release, despite being ardently championed by writer-critic James Agee, who considered Charles Chaplin's acting performance the greatest male performance he had ever seen in films. 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 Prosecutor: Never, never in the history of jurisprudence have such terrifying deeds been brought to light. Gentlemen of the jury, you have before you a cruel and cynical monster. Look at him!
[all heads turn to face Verdoux, who turns around himself to look behind]
The Prosecutor: Observe him, gentlemen. This man, who has brains, if he had decent instincts, could have made an honest living. And yet, he preferred to rob and murder unsuspecting women. In fact, he made a business of it. I do not ask for vengeance, but for the...
[...]
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Featured in Shallow Hal (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant black comedy with a very serious message
22 April 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Charlie Chaplin is "Monsieur Verdoux" in this 1947 film based on the real-life serial killer Henri Landru. Verdoux is a bank clerk who is laid off late in life and turns to marrying and killing women for their money in order to support his invalid wife and child. Sounds brutal, and when you think about it, it really is, but Chaplin as usual manages to couch his message in comedy. While we see that he is successful in knocking off a couple of women and getting their money (though we never actually see a murder), Verdoux has a couple of failures as well, and there the fun begins. One of his women, Annabella Bonheur, is played hysterically by Martha Raye as a vulgar loudmouth eternally suspicious of Verdoux, who is posing as a boat captain. He tries some different ways of killing her, but no matter what he does, nothing works. He then turns his attention to another woman he's been chasing for some time, Marie Grosnay (Isobel Elsom). He's about to walk down the aisle when who does he see as a guest at the wedding - Annabelle. His attempts to get out of the house are priceless.

Despite some genuinely comical scenes, the speech that Verdoux makes gives its deeper message - Verdoux was in it for the money. To him, the women were business propositions to be exploited. His point is that what he has done on a smaller scale is being done by dictators worldwide; people are not treated as human beings but merely for economic gain, for power and for exploitation. Though Verdoux's argument doesn't absolve him of responsibility or justify his actions, the warning is a good one - people need to care more about each other and about what's going on in their world, and put their attention on really important matters like suppression of the masses. Why, he asks, are the headlines full of Verdoux and not of what is going on around the world? (The film's ending takes place in 1937.) It's interesting to consider what would have happened to this story in the hands of Orson Welles, whose idea it was originally. He wouldn't have made it a comedy. It would have been a drama or a detective story. Only Chaplin would think of making the story of a serial killer into a comedy of sorts. Certainly 1967's "No Way to Treat a Lady" takes a page or so from this script.

"Monsieur Verdoux" wasn't well received by the public - at all - and by 1947, people were questioning Chaplin's politics instead of reveling in his genius. It possibly was ahead of its time; it certainly wasn't appreciated as it is today. The movie is not without some problems, the biggest one being, what the heck happened to Verdoux's wife and child? It is never explained.

"Wars, conflicts - it's all business. One murder makes a villain; millions a hero. Numbers sanctify." Charlie Chaplin as Verdoux said that 61 years ago.


13 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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One thing that saddens me... jonasmendigo
What happened to Verdoux's (real) wife and child? trinitymplayers
'I have made my peace with God, my conflict is with man.' Ghostiejo
Chaplin/Welles collaboration mattdeen
Deserves a Criterion release classicmoviecomedy
Flying though the money... elf_gurl3021
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