Monsieur Verdoux

Chaplin's “comedy of murders” is based on a story idea by Orson Welles and inspired by Bertolt Brecht's adage, “One murder makes a man a villain, millions, a hero.” Chaplin plays the dapper Parisian Henri Verdoux, who solves the problem of unemployment by marrying and then murdering wealthy women, a singular manner in which to support an unsuspecting wife and family. This modern Bluebeard seems a complete turnabout from Chaplin's silent screen persona, but in some ways, he is a logical evolution of the Tramp: above all, he is a survivor of hard times. Monsieur Verdoux is one of Chaplin's most outspoken films; in prison, before his last drink of rum, Verdoux philosophizes on the business of killing-from the work of small businessmen like himself to the atomic bomb. The American public repaid Chaplin's audacity by delivering him his first critical and commercial disaster.

Monsieur Verdoux is repeated on Sunday, December 16.

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