Cover image for Monsieur Verdoux
Title:
Monsieur Verdoux
Author:
Chaplin, Charlie, 1889-1977.
Edition:
[DVD version].
Publication Information:
Burbank, CA : Mk2 Editions : distributed by Warner Home Video, 2003.
Physical Description:
1 videodisc (119 min.) : sound, black and white ; 4 3/4 in.
Summary:
In this dark comedy first released during WWII, Henri Vedoux, played by Charlie Chaplin, supports his family by first marrying, and then killing wealthy widows. On another level the film is an indictment of war in which mass murder is legalized, celebrated and paraded. "Killing is the enterprise by which your system prospers, " Verdoux says. "As a mass killer, I am an amateur by comparison."
General Note:
Originally released as a motion picture in 1947.

Based on an idea by Orson Welles.

"A Charles Chaplin - United Artists production."

Special features: Includes original segments of the scripts prior to changes made to conform to the "Breen Office, " sketches of sets, production photographs and production records from the Chaplin archives, publicity materials.

Digitally remastered. Selection, transfer and annotation of original film elements and special supplementary materials by David H. Shepard.

For specific features see interactive menu.
Language:
English
Reading Level:
Not rated.
ISBN:
9780790771694
UPC:
085393765224
Format :
DVD

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Summary

Summary

"Von Clausewitz said that war is the logical extension of diplomacy; Monsieur Verdoux feels that murder is the logical extension of business." With his controversial "comedy of murders" Monsieur Verdoux, Charles Chaplin makes his final, definitive break with the Little Tramp character that had brought him fame and fortune. Verdoux (Chaplin), a mild-mannered family man of pre-war France, has hit upon a novel method of supporting his loved ones. He periodically heads out of town, assumes an alias, marries a foolish, wealthy woman, then murders her for the insurance money. He does this thirteen times with success, but wife #14, brassy Martha Raye, proves impossible to kill (nor does she ever suspect what Verdoux has in mind for her). A subplot develops when Verdoux, planning to test a new poison, chooses streetwalker Marilyn Nash as his guinea pig. She tells him so sad a life story that Verdoux takes pity on her, gives her some money, and sends her on her way. Years later, the widowed and impoverished Verdoux meets Nash once more; now she is the mistress of a munitions magnate. This ironic twist sets the stage for the finale, when Verdoux, finally arrested for his crimes and on trial for his life, gently argues in his own defense that he is an "amateur" by comparison to those profiteers who build weapons for war. "It's all business. One murder makes a villain. Millions, a hero. Numbers sanctify..." Sentenced to death, Verdoux remains calmly philosophical to the end. As the condemned man walks to the guillotine, a priest prays for God to have mercy on Verdoux's soul. "Why not?" replies Verdoux jauntily. "After all, it belongs to him." The original idea of Monsieur Verdoux originated with Orson Welles, who'd wanted to make a picture about notorious modern "Bluebeard" Landru. Welles wanted to cast Chaplin in the lead; Chaplin liked the idea, but preferred to direct himself, as he'd been doing since 1914. It is possible that Chaplin might have gotten away with the audacious notion of presenting a cold-blood murderer as a sympathetic, almost lovable figure. Alas, Monsieur Verdoux was released at a time when Chaplin was under a political cloud for his allegedly Communistic philosophy; too, it came out shortly after a well-publicized paternity suit involving Chaplin and Joan Barry. Picketed in several communities, banned outright in others, Monsieur Verdoux was Chaplin's first financial flop. Today, it can be seen to be years ahead of its time in terms of concept, even though the execution is old-fashioned and occasionally wearisome. Monsieur Verdoux doesn't always hit the bull's-eye, but it remains one of Charles Chaplin's most fascinating projects. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi