Mr Verdoux (1947)

June 1st, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: Charles Chaplin

Described by David Thomson as a “gloating portrait of cruelty”, with characteristic modesty Charlie Chaplin claimed it “the cleverest and most brilliant film I have yet made”.

Although a consummate actor (displaying a fastidiousness that had been part of his screen persona since his days playing a gentleman of the road) if the final results had managed to combine the cinematic imagination of Orson Welles – who gave Chaplin the original idea for which he receives a credit and who on his own films often demonstrated a deft sense of period, a quality ‘Verdoux’ completely lacks – with Chaplin’s performance it would have been quite a film.

With those two Napoleons on board the clashes of personalities would have been insurmountable. But at least we can be grateful that Chaplin’s performance survives; while the scene with Martha Raye in the rowboat wickedly parodies ‘An American Tragedy’. @RichardChatten

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