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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 Mady Correll ... Mona
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 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:

Chaplin's Bluebeard comedy is a killer! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

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)

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 IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The 60,000 francs Verdoux gets out of Thema's bank account in 1932 would equal $2,357 at the time, or almost $41,800 in 2017. 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

The Girl: Well, if you must know, I'm just out of jail.
Henri Verdoux: What were you in for?
The Girl: What's the difference? "Larceny," they called it.
Henri Verdoux: "Larceny"?
The Girl: Petty larceny... Pawning a rented typewriter.
Henri Verdoux: Dear, dear. Couldn't you do better than that? What did you get?
The Girl: Three months.
Henri Verdoux: So this is your first day out of jail?
The Girl: Yes.
Henri Verdoux: I see... Poor dear. Ah, well, nothing is permanent in this wicked world. Not even our troubles.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Chaplin Today: A King in New York (2003) See more »

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User Reviews

 
"Presents incongruities to an agreeable monster..."
25 March 2007 | by movedoutSee 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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