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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.

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(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:
... Henri Verdoux - Alias Varnay - Alias Bonheur - Alias Floray
Mady Correll ... Mona
Allison Roddan ... Peter
... Maurice Bottello - Verdoux's Friend
Audrey Betz ... Martha
... Annabella Bonheur
... Annette (as Ada-May)
... Marie Grosnay
... Maid
Helene Heigh ... Yvonne - Marie's Friend
Margaret Hoffman ... Lydia Floray
... The Girl
... Pierre Couvais
Edwin Mills ... Jean Couvais
... 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:

Language:

Release Date:

8 December 1947 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

A Comedy of Murders  »

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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

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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

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: [the priest visits Verdoux in his jail cell, shortly before execution] Ah, Father. And what can I do for you?
Priest: Nothing, my son. I want to help you, if I can. I've come to ask you to make your peace with God.
Henri Verdoux: I *am* at peace with God. My conflict is with Man.
Priest: Have you no remorse for your sin?
Henri Verdoux: Who knows what sin is? Born as it was from God's fallen angel. Who knows the ultimate destiny it serves? After all, what would you be doing without sin?
Priest: Exactly what I'm doing now, my son: trying to help a ...
[...]
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Connections

Featured in Momma's Man (2008) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Brilliant black comedy with a very serious message
22 April 2008 | by 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.


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