Monsieur Verdoux [1947]

Director: Charles Chaplin
Stars: Charles Chaplin, Mady Correll, Allison Roddan, Robert Lewis, Audrey Betz
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Drama
Rating: Unrated
Runtime: 124 minutes

This blistering little black comedy was well ahead of its time when released in 1947. Originally, Orson Welles had wanted Chaplin to star in his drama about a French mass murderer named Landru, but Chaplin was hesitant to act for another director, and used the idea himself. He plays a dapper gent named Henri Verdoux (who assumes a number of identities), a civilized monster who marries wealthy women, then murders them (as we meet him, he's gathering roses as an incinerator ominously bellows smoke in the background) and collects their money to support his real family. The Little Tramp is now a distant memory, though this was the first film not to feature Chaplin's beloved creation. Verdoux is largely viciously clever until it gets too heavy-handed, as evidenced when a woman he spares returns years later as the mistress of a munitions manufacturer. Ultimately, Chaplin breaks character (much as he did in The Great Dictator) to preach to the masses, declaring that against the machines of war that grip the planet, humble killer Verdoux is "an amateur by comparison." --David Kronke

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