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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.

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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 ...
Mona - His Wife
Allison Roddan ...
Peter - Their Son
...
Audrey Betz ...
Martha - His Wife
...
Annabella Bonheur
Ada May ...
Annette - Her Maid (as Ada-May)
Isobel Elsom ...
Marie Grosnay
...
Her Maid
Helene Heigh ...
Yvonne - Marie's Friend
Margaret Hoffman ...
Lydia Floray
...
The Girl
...
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  »

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

Henri Verdoux: It's the approach of death that terrifies.
The Girl: I suppose, if the unborn knew of the approach of life, they'd be just as terrified.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Shallow Hal (2001) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Presents incongruities to an agreeable monster..."
25 March 2007 | by See all my reviews

Considered in some circles as Chaplin's crowning performance. It's a clever and earnest study of a man, a survivalist in a world gone the way of a corporate jungle. It also becomes incredibly relevant now in its take on the ruthlessness of capitalism and harshness of being part of a civilised society. Take allegory on its face value, Chaplin's Henri Verdoux is a bluebeard, who marries middle-aged women for their money and disposes of them through incinerators or "liquidates them" as he prefers to call it. His actions are driven by a need to care for a young child and an invalid wife who look up to him, as he keeps from them his retrenchment from his post as a bank clerk. He sees no difference in murder as he does in business. There's an inconsolable sadness throughout the film. Despite the gags, and wit teeming within its situations and characters, all roads lead to despair. The cold reach of its cynicism is daunting as it is bleak.

The film presents incongruities to the calculatingly agreeable monster by showing an aging man whose waning pride demands attention, and a hopeless romantic who surmises that he's a singular creature in a cold, inhuman world. The film then shows how arctic and precise he is when it comes to murder, how meticulous he is when he plans and how efficient he is when it comes to counting francs - cue the sight gag.

His articulation is almost borne out of being made to play different roles, the confidence he exudes to charm these women into marriage are just facets of Verdoux's intelligence. Above all, he assumes he knows how these women think and what they truly are. His misogynistic tendencies towards women who are self-sufficient is in clear contrast to his wife, who he adores and the ingénue in the street he picks up halfway through the film who restores his faith in humanity when she turns out to be an optimistic but kindred spirit.

With the film's final minutes, Chaplin indicts big business within the film's context of being in the Great Depression. He uses this opportunity to verve into anti-war criticism, a keenly placed insight being released just a few years after the end of the second World War. Insisting he's nothing but an amateur compared to the murderers behind war and business machinations, he uses the furious revolutions of the wheels of a train to show like in like many of his silents, that he's nothing but a cog - always turning to the tune of the corporations.


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