I wonder what do you expect from a Chaplin movie.
A humorous, uplifting, and touching plot. Yea, The Kid comes to mind, am I right? What else?
Ah, a few hearty laughs.
Black and white. Now, that is obvious.
All in all a film that will effectuate what's called a great time. But what are your thoughts about Charlie Chaplin being in a dark comedy movie? Hmm, he had done that too in The Dictator. Then again he wasn't portraying a dark character; yes, Hitler, briefly. I guess he wasn't away from the shadow of a gruesome character. Even then you can be sure that it was a great one. The movie in question is Monsieur Verdoux (1947).
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
Monsieur Verdoux (1947)
It's a dark comedy film. I was looking at one of the film posters of this movie and at top of it was written Chaplin Changes. Can You? Well, it was a considerable change as the whole world is still reeling over World War II. The film directed and produced by Charlie Chaplin and he was the lead cast. It was initially a joined project of Orson Welles and Chaplin but Chaplin backed out over some disagreement between the two; later one he bought the script and all rights from Welles but he was given the storyline credit.
The Character & The Plot
The character the Chaplin played is Monsieur Verdoux but the character inspiration is a French serial killer Henri Désiré Landru. In the movie, Chaplin aka Verdoux is a Bluebeard but not very typical. By definition, a Bluebeard is a man who marries and kills one wife after another, and yes Verdoux did the same but he was after the money he scrounged up from those poor women.
You're wondering why I merged the character and the plot? It's simple, the movie is sort of a biography, so explaining the character would seem to describe the plot.
In the opening scene, a few members of a family were doing chores and making a fuss over stuff that can be easily ignored and obviously blaming each other over silly matters; this was the Couvais family. The matriarch of the family had received a letter from the bank saying that Thelma Couvais had withdrawn all her savings from the bank and went to live with her newly wedded husband Varnay (aka Verdoux). The matriarch seems skeptical and believes that something is wrong with Thelma. the family decides to notify the police in three days if they don't hear from her again.
Verdoux was walking through the garden leisurely collecting beautiful roses when he got a letter delivered that's addressed to Thelma and he forged her signature and received the money withdrawn from the bank. Later on, he met Marie Grosnay who came to buy the house Varney or Verdoux was selling which was his wife Thelma's, and what he saw in her is his next target. But what does he do with all that money? He buys stocks from the market.
It was revealed that he (as the story of Landru) was laid off from his job at a bank where he worked for 30 years and he lost everything within a few years. This is why he resorted to drastic methods to regain what he had lost and to provide his original wife and son a life of comfort. As the film went on, luck was not on his side.
The film may have been inappropriate at the time of its release due to public emotion or perhaps it was just the wrong time. One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.
If one side of the Atlantic didn't appreciate this movie, the other side did. And why not! If I consider the era that it was released, it was a risky attempt but a great one. It was lauded by many others even in 1947 and years later as well. Almost a century later, it's still an illustrious film. Different isn't always likable. If I say my mind, it was brilliant work, and portraying a serial killer has a higher risk than usual and for that reason, Chaplin, as well as Welles, should be and are praised for what they have done.