Wednesday, 16 June 2010
Monsieur Verdoux 
Monsieur Verdoux, though never canonized or anointed one of Charlie Chaplin’s best film, would nonetheless rank as perhaps the most singularly daring work of his filmmaking career. Released at a time when he was being witch-hunted for his communist leanings apart from facing personal (familial) crisis, Chaplin sounded the death knell for the beloved Little Tramp, arguably the most iconic character in the history of this medium, with this “comedy of murders” (based on an idea by Orson Welles). Where Welles was interested in a more conventional film on the subject, Chaplin turned the crime genre on its head by infusing it with tar black witticism, subversive humour and trenchant socio-political satire. Consequently, the movie, where Monsieur Verdoux, who can only be described by the moniker Chaplinesque, and brilliantly and inimitably played by the great man himself, goes about “liquidating” rich middle-aged women solely as a business proposition during the horrific times of the Great Depression, was too biting and ahead of its times for the audience to react favourably towards it. The film ends with the bleak pronouncement, “One murder makes a villain, millions a hero. Numbers sanctify”. However, despite its commercial and critical failure and the first major setback in Chaplin’s career, the film has fortunately and rightfully managed to get its due in terms of respect and adulation.
Director: Charlie Chaplin
Genre: Comedy/Black Comedy/Political Satire/Social Satire