Is it just me, or does Charlie Chaplin look like John Stewart in this film? I saw it in everything from the pursed lips to body mannerisms and that spit take, and smiled because I adore both men.
This is a film that picks up steam as it goes, after its setup that has normally-lovable Chaplin established as a serial killer preying on women for their wealth. I was amused and liked all of the times Chaplin breaks the 4th wall by looking directly into the camera, speaking to us with his eyes, but I only really started loving the film when he meets a young woman he intends to test a poison on. From there the scene out on that boat fishing with Martha Raye is hilarious, and the film doesn't let up with its misdirections.
Weirdly, there is both a humanity here in Chaplin's character but also a monster, and there is also a comment on mankind. The end of the film is set in 1937 but it's certainly the Chaplin of 1947 who tells us: "As for being a mass killer, does not the world encourage it? Is it not building weapons of destruction for the sole purpose of mass killing? Has it not blown unsuspecting women and little children to pieces? And done it very scientifically? As a mass killer, I am an amateur by comparison." Not that the character has a leg to stand on morally, but it's a fascinating comment just a couple of years after Hiroshima/Nagasaki and the dawning of the atomic age.
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