Quick recap: Charlie Chaplain plays Monsieur Verdoux, a perfectly charming gentleman.Faced with the difficult situation of caring for his wheelchair bound wife and young son after losing his job at the bank, Verdoux does what any stand up man would do-he becomes a mass murderer.
Fun(?) fact: Chaplain bought the idea for the movie from Orson Welles for $5000
My thoughts: City Lights is one of my favorite movies, and so I was hesitant to watch Chaplain in a ‘talkie’. In all honesty, I had kind of assumed he had retired once the era of silent films was over. Apparently not, and it was quite a relief to see how easily he had transitioned, yet still keeping his over the top expressions he was known for.
The film apparently takes place in France, although everyone has an english accent. That’s one of my biggest pet peeves in movies- when the accent doesn’t match the region (I’m talking to you, Tom Cruise). There were a lot of characters thrown in at the beginning of the movie, which was confusing at first, until I learned to just focus on Verdoux. Chaplain’s character is a little guy, but an expert at wooing women. He is supremely charming when he needs to be and has to summon up a lot of patience for some of the women he deals with. I especially loved the little quirks of his, such as how quickly he thumbed through the money and his continually failing to kill one of his wives. Hilarious!
I thoroughly enjoyed myself until the end of the movie, when Verdoux is finally caught and sentenced to death for all the murders. In his speech to the court, Verdoux basically says that everyone finds him horrible, yet bombs are killing women and children every day and no one cares. It’s not that I disagree with the message, but I don’t like having to sit through a movie only to realize it was political satire this whole time. And I do love me some satire, but not in this way. If the speech had just been edited out, it would’ve been a perfectly fine comedy. Satire can be subtle but not so nonexistent so that the main character has to make a speech about the point of the movie. Chaplain was apparently extremely left-wing and felt this film to be one of his best. It was controversial when it came out and was the beginning of the end of Chaplain’s career.
Final review: 3/5. Still a nice little gem of a movie, if you take away the ending.
Up next: Star Wars: Episode IV