7.9/10
15,878
86 user 73 critic

Monsieur Verdoux (1947)

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:

Charles Chaplin

Writers:

Charles Chaplin (an original story written by), Orson Welles (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:
Charles Chaplin ... Henri Verdoux - Alias Varnay - Alias Bonheur - Alias Floray
Mady Correll ... Mona Verdoux - Henri's Wife
Allison Roddan Allison Roddan ... Peter
Robert Lewis ... Maurice Bottello - Verdoux's Friend
Audrey Betz Audrey Betz ... Martha
Martha Raye ... Annabella Bonheur
Ada May ... Annette (as Ada-May)
Isobel Elsom ... Marie Grosnay
Marjorie Bennett ... Maid
Helene Heigh ... Yvonne - Marie's Friend
Margaret Hoffman Margaret Hoffman ... Lydia Floray
Marilyn Nash ... The Girl
Irving Bacon ... Pierre Couvais
Edwin Mills 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:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The producers of the film were sued in 1948 by Parisian bank employee Henri Verdoux. See more »

Goofs

When Verdoux is at the sidewalk cafe, the items on the table change positions between shots - the white match holder is one one side, then the other, and the metal cup is on the plate, then off. See more »

Quotes

Henri Verdoux: Despair is a narcotic. It lulls the mind into indifference.
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Connections

Featured in Shallow Hal (2001) See more »

User Reviews

 
Brilliant black comedy with a very serious message
22 April 2008 | by blanche-2See 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.


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Details

Official Sites:

Instagram | Official Site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

8 December 1947 (Sweden) See more »

Also Known As:

A Comedy of Murders See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$2,000,000 (estimated)

Gross USA:

$64,636

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$64,636
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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