7.9/10
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79 user 63 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 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 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:

A comedy of murders. The story of a modern French Bluebeard! 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)

Gross USA:

$64,636

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$64,636
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

Charles Chaplin's leading lady in his early silent films, Edna Purviance, tested for the role of Madame Grosnay but was deemed unsuitable. She hadn't worked with Chaplin since 1923, but was kept on his payroll until her death in 1958. 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: Wars, conflict - it's all business. One murder makes a villain; millions, a hero. Numbers sanctify, my good fellow!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Jeopardy!: Episode #27.32 (2010) See more »

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User Reviews

 
fine work
10 May 2007 | by gsygsySee all my reviews

This movie is a fine example of a genre which attained enormous popularity during and in the decade after World War Two. These so-called "black comedies" (a term perhaps alluding to the funereal subject matter, ranging from fluffy (Noel Coward's "Bithe Spirit" - on stage in 1941, filmed in 1945) to darkly absurd (Ealing's "The Ladykillers" in 1955), turned death into situation comedy. Falling out of favour in the 60s, black comedy returned somewhat in the work of Robert Altman, before being brought back to full glory by the Coen Brothers.

Although the most enduringly successful example of black comedy is perhaps "Arsenic and Old Lace" (stage 1941/film 1944), two of the very greatest filmmakers blessed it with their contributions. Alfred Hitchcock to some extent incarnated the essence of it every time he introduced an episode of "Alfred Hitchcock Presents", but his definitive statement - "The Trouble with Harry" - just preceded the TV shows in 1955.

Charles Chaplin's dark vision, "Monsieur Verdoux", was released in 1947, just before the anti-Communist cries against him were to drive him out of America. A political backdrop is either entirely absent or implicit in the other examples of the genre I've mentioned, but Chaplin makes it explicit, and some might say that, to some extent, this unbalances the last reel of an otherwise utterly brilliant film. Others perhaps will be more sympathetic to the historical context. For me, while completely supporting Chaplin's observations concerning the business of war, the heavy underlining of his message does seem a flaw when viewing the film today.

All the same, "Monsieur Verdoux" is a magnificent achievement, not least in its wonderful gallery of characters, many played by character actors rarely seen on screen. Two in particular stand out, both playing wives of the much-married Verdoux: dour, unsmiling Margaret Hoffman, who goes to her death in an extraordinary scene of darkness followed by sudden light; and Martha Raye, in her best cinematic role, as the wife Verdoux fails to kill. Raye is such an explosion of energy and personality that the screen can barely contain her. To watch her and Chaplin in their scenes together is sheer joy.

The script is witty, the photography excellent, and Chaplin's penchant for sentimentality is held well in check. It is, except for the end, an unusually subtle movie, its tone completely in keeping with its French setting.


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