Join now! © 2000-2018 Roy Export SAS - Website Design by Charles Sistovaris. A completely different feel, but watch how Cary Grant walks Ingrid Bergman down the stairs and out of the house at the end of Notorious. Charlie Chaplin was one of the cinema’s consummate comic performers, yet he has long been criticized as a lackluster film director. The Criterion Collection deserves to be congratulated for its 2K restoration and for its excellent selection of extras that include one of the finest pieces of writing on cinema by André Bazin on Monsieur Verdoux. You wallow in murder… you legalize it… you adorn it with gold braid! A 1939 Lucy might have pulled it off! Monsieur Verdoux, the first film since 1923 in which Chaplin played no version of the Tramp character, is a dark comic work centered on the title character, a dapper former bank teller who was laid off after 35 years. "Comedy," not "black," is the key word. 2. Our judgment is clouded by knowing the final products of "GWTW" and "I Love Lucy" and liking them as they are, but if we wiped our memories and started over, I wonder if we would have liked Lucille Ball, who was a good dramatic actress, being Scarlett O'Hara. If you are not yet a member, please click here to join. Just prior to the premiere, Birdwell wrote columnist Hedda Hopper a note saying: "I contend that Charlie Chaplin's 'Monsieur Verdoux' is the greatest and most controversial picture that has ever come from the Hollywood mills. A likable actress - although she supposedly lost the part of Scarlett O'Hara because of her "are they married or aren't they?" Turner Classic Movies has run clips from some of his earlier silents and somewhere along the line aired "Monsieur Verdoux," which I felt like I should watch but was unable to see it through. Mark Steyn Club members can let Kathy know what they think of this column by logging into SteynOnline and sharing below. 'We've got Chaplin,' they announced. Yes The Ladykillers is a good film. Banging on the table, Chaplin continued, "What I want is that every child should have enough to eat, shoes on his feet and a roof over his head." I'm surprised Chaplin didn't cut all her scenes. One true crime case that captured imaginations generations before Ted Bundy and the Zodiac Killer were born was that of Henri Landru. And, yes, Vivien Leigh was beautiful but she still sort of matches the description of Scarlett in the novel.We seem to have strayed from Chaplin and "Monsieur Verdoux." ", The most infamous example of Chaplin's onscreen pontification is his closing speech in his first talkie, The Great Dictator (1940.). Monsier Verdoux. reply #4. Audiences were repelled by it, and for the first time, a Chaplin film lost money. The message & the pics used does not make me want to run out & buy their product. Chaplin continued with political aspects after The Great Dictator, examining post-World War II imperialism in Monsieur Verdoux (1947) and tackling his own fears of aging and relevancy … Martha Ray was sparkling in a God awful movie. Thanks Josh. I hadn't really noticed this, but yeah, this is the kind of "point and shoot" directing we get with someone like Mel Brooks (no great stylist.) The same documentary also included screen tests of the final four candidates for Scarlett - Leigh, Goddard, Joan Bennett and Jean Arthur - doing the "lace me tighter, Mammy" scene (with Hattie McDaniel in three of the tests and some other actress in the fourth). The titular Monsieur Verdoux is a serial bigamist who woos, weds and wipes out lonely, late-middle-aged (and well-to-do) females. During his career in silent films, Chaplin was the highest paid actor, and arguably the most recognizable man, on the planet. Kick back with Kathy and your fellow Club members in person aboard one of our annual cruises. Like most movie buffs, I was aware of his leftist political views and his unsuitable interest in ladies below the age of consent, as well as the arguments by his apologists that Chaplin was a genius and just the victim of the prurience and political paranoia of the American public. I read some glowing, in-depth critical analyses and cannot believe we watched the same film. Sound pictures provided Chaplin with an irresistible opportunity to hector audiences with his dangerously naïve political convictions, which he propounded with the all-too-familiar passion of a man convinced such notions had never been expressed before. People established as sitting only inches apart at a small card table are cut to in solo shots--and not for any emotional or dramatic impact, as there is no emotion or drama in this flat-as-all-Nebraska scene. Their faces are one, never split, except where Grant walks out of the shot, followed by Bergman's insanely beautiful eyes, and only to return to the shot without a cut. I had forgotten that it had Herbert Lom in it. My favorite movies of theirs are on quick reflection Newman in "The Hustler" (1961) and McQueen in "The Great Escape" (1963). The sheer, sinister stupidity of this address — with its Shavian, do-gooder nihilism — was summed up superbly by Ron Rosenbaum, author of Explaining Hitler: "Chaplin, to his eternal shame, ended the film not with a call to oppose fascism, and its murderous hatred, but rather — because he was following the shameful Hitler-friendly Soviet line at the time — ended his film with a call for all workers in the world to lay down their arms — in other words to refuse to join the fight against fascism and Hitler.". Monsieur Verdoux, atypically for a Chaplin film, features some familiar Hollywood actors, including Martha Raye, William Frawley and Fritz Leiber, Sr.. by Kathy Shaidle I'm trying to picture him 'young' - surely he made films before his middle years??? I never really liked Clark Gable as Rhett Butler anyway. Once Arsenic can work, not a repeater, even for Cary. And that's not even getting into watching Chaplin's trademark eyebrows, so expressive as The Little Tramp, so arch (get it?) Loved this piece. I can take or leave most horror movies, but I couldn't help myself. The twice-my-age-and-then-some ladies seated around me were tutting about one particularly nasty one — or so they'd heard — which had just been released. Now, no one can blame any artist for so tiring of their most famous creation that they nuke it to smithereens, but the studio wisely realized that Chaplin's metamorphosis might come as a (financially disastrous) shock; posters for the film asked (or rather, goaded) potential customers: "Chaplin Changes! Speech from Monsieur Verdoux. Chaplin retained his trademark moustache (for obvious reasons) in that film, as well as other trappings of his beloved and highly lucrative "Little Tramp" character. I hate "zany.". His point is that what he has done on a smaller scale is being done by dictators worldwide; people are not treated as human beings but merely for economic gain, for power and for exploitation. We could cast Melvyn Douglas as Rhett, Lucy as Scarlett, and kept the rest of the cast. Nevertheless, upon leaving this spark of earthly existence, I have this to say…..I shall see you all very soon…… very soon…, From Monsieur Verdoux, Copyright © Roy Export S.A.S. No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of Mark Steyn Enterprises. Or something. By jane grace, 6 years ago on Off Topic Discussions. If you thought 1940's "The Great Dictator" was outrageous, you wait until you see "Monsieur Verdoux". Her timing, body movements, sense of where she was on a stage among props and other actors flawless, she made everyone around her better, the one little negative I see for Lucy as "Scarlett" is Lucy was a strong woman, strong in her self possession, the way she could dominate a space - Gable would have found himself dealing with another alpha personality, no coy mincing ingenue, when we do see Leigh bust out in fury her "little southern miss" identity had already been established, even if Rhett always knew it was bollocks. Brava. It spoils all the fun of being a villain to add in a good reason for the crimes. The film ends with a speech from Verdoux that's the anthithesis of the one which caps The Great Dictator: that idealistic and queasily naïve call to "fight for a world where science and progress will lead to all men's happiness" at the same time science and progress were being used to melt children into soap. The audience is forced to distance itself from Monsieur Verdoux in order to reflect on what the filmmaker is trying to express. Music and Lyrics by Charles Chaplin. Tweets by @MarkSteynOnline !function(d,s,id){var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0],p=/^http:/.test(d.location)? Great directors know when to put their mark on a scene, and when to let it flow. Killing is the enterprise by which your System prospers, upon which your industry thrives!”, Extract from a letter from the Breen Office to Chaplin, part of some correspondence concerning ‘necessary’ censorship of the film before its release: “Verdoux’s claim is, derivatively, that it is ridiculous to be shocked by the extent of his atrocities, that they are a mere “comedy of murders” in comparison with the legalized mass murders of war, which are embellished with gold braid by the ‘System’.”. The details were contested by both men, but in short: Welles approached Chaplin in the 1940s, proposing that he star in a film about Landru. The only solo shots are of Claude Rains and his mother--and a spare Nazi or two. "I believe Monsieur Verdoux (1947) is the cleverest and most brilliant film I have yet made," wrote Charlie Chaplin in his autobiography. I like both Newman and McQueen about the same. While it is not a criterion everyone can aspire to, how someone's ex-spouses feel about him or her is often a good indication of their character. In this groundbreaking work—the first to analyze Chaplin’s directorial style—Donna Kornhaber radically recasts his status as a filmmaker. Hynkel is a character with immense power but no personal strength to show for it. Even when I disagree with him, he's so entertaining I don't care. Well, there's Martha Raye's (yes, that Martha Raye) indelible performance as one of Verdoux's wives. As he did with his unforgettable theme-stating monologue in “The Great Dictator” (1940), Charlie Chaplin the dramatist brings “Monsieur Verdoux” to a crescendo with a speech that informs the audience of its author’s dramatic intentions. I've seen Monsieur Verdoux, but barely remember it. I'll cop out here by handing the last word to Roger Lewis, who was as staggered by Ackroyd's book about Chaplin as Simon Callow was, and tossed in an anecdote of his own: "Chaplin died on Christmas Day 1977. August 15, 2020, https://www.steynonline.com/10559/monsieur-verdoux. This film was 'before its time' - it's a great film. Hitchcock's choreography makes the scene; Chaplin's fiddling burns me. Vocals: Shirley Norman, All photographs from Chaplin films made from 1918 onwards © Roy Export S.A.S. All Rights Reserved. The first line of Gone With the Wind is "Scarlett O'Hara was not beautiful..." which makes Leigh absolutely wrong on paper, but hey, who, even the author, could possibly object. All rights reserved, The following lines were deleted from the speech, presumably to satisfy the Breen office: Membership in the Mark Steyn Club has many perks, from commenting privileges, to access to the entire SteynOnline back catalog, to exclusive invitations to Steyn events. Charles Chaplin hired famed press agent Russell Birdwell to publicize this film. Chaplin and Edna … Now, no one can blame any artist for so tiring of their most famous creation that they nuke it to smithereens, but the studio wisely realized that Chaplin's metamorphosis might come as a (financially disastrous) shock; posters for the film asked (or rather, goaded) potential customers: … According to Buster Keaton, Chaplin once excitedly told him that, "Communism was going to change everything, abolish poverty." Leigh and McDaniel are great together - even 'tho it's shot in black-and-white, it is in some ways more vivid than the scene in the actual movie. The question of whether or not murder is an acceptable subject for entertainment is hardly new. Had to rewind it a couple of times to make sure of what I heard. Impossible not to love Lucy, very easy not to love Scarlett! I thought of Melvyn Douglas because he is mentioned in a comment by Calvert Whitehurst in these comments to Kathy's article. … When those two friends leave, and Chaplin and Raye walk (without any reason) five feet to the center of the room, there is a hidden/not-so-hidden cut (at 1:39). So I was forced to go into business for myself. receive the latest by email: subscribe to steynonline's free weekly mailing list. He wouldn't return to the country for 20 years after the film's American wide release led to Chaplin's only competitive Oscar. I find Arsenic... too zany for my tastes, but that's just me. Shaidle at the Cinema Verdoux: Oui, Monsieur, I have. In order to support his wife and child he marries and then murders wealthy widows in order to gain their money. I'm with you Elise, I find Lucille Ball underrated in possibly every category but comedy! Thomas DeQuincy wrote his satirical "On Murder Considered as One of the Fine Arts" in 1827, although Orwell's "Decline of the English Murder", penned in 1946, has proven more enduring. Watched it again a couple of years ago. Watch that movie and you'll see Melvyn Douglas 'young', and you'll enjoy the movie too. My mother thought him perfect, "no one else could have been Rhett" - yea, whatever. Mr. Whitehurst said Melvyn Douglas did a screenplay for the Ashley Wilkes role. Test your film knowledge by guessing the winner in this Oscar's quiz. And loved the shots at the lethally naive Chaplin. However remiss the prosecutor has been in complimenting me, he at least admits that I have brains. I wonder how Hitler responded to Chaplin's nonsense German, liberally sprinkled with familiar words like 'sauerkraut' and 'wiener schnitzel' - to an English-speaking audience, it's hilarious. Henri Verdoux's courtroom speech - a response to the Judge and Prosecutor after being convicted and found guilty in a trial - he explained how society was hypocritical; he argued that world wars, dictators, and mass genocidal killings were sanctioned by society and other countries, but his own crime of killing only a few out of necessity (in order to survive) brought about a sentence of death by guillotine: … Lucille Ball said in an interview that she was influenced by Dunne's comedic timing. This is chapter XVII of me being told my entire life that a certain movie is brilliant and me not "getting it." As a mass killer, I am an amateur by comparison. Back in the previous century, when I was the youngest employee at a small newspaper, the topic of horror movies came up in the lunchroom. But who can blame us? RichCoad. With a story idea credited to Orson Welles, it evolves into a black comedy which is full of creativity and the narrative is loaded with pacifistic sentiments and is characterised by some delightfully dry humour. here. I just remember thinking that the sentimental addition of a sob story about a wife and child was a typical Chaplin invention. And the war. If everyone in Hollywood loved "the poor" as much as they love their fortunes, we wouldn't have to listen to inane sermons about "income inequality". Lucy might have had a different career all together. Limelight was the last film Chaplin made in the United States; he was banned from the country while promoting the film. Is it not building weapons of destruction for the sole purpose of mass killing? Take out a membership for yourself or a loved one here. Got to agree about Kind Hearts. It's not a splice in a broken print; the camera angle is slightly different. EW admired Chaplln's art, if not his politics, and despised Hollywood itself. Unlike many silent stars, Chaplin had nothing to fear from the coming of sound; along with his other considerable talents, he had a beautiful speaking voice. Eh, I meant Douglas did a screen test, not a screenplay for the Ashley Wilkes role. From beginning to end Monsieur Verdoux is a film of great assurance: Chaplin knows exactly the effects he wants to create and is in full control. The film is thoroughly punctuated with (awkward) pratfalls and (broad) jokes. No part of this website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied, modified or adapted, without the prior written consent of Mark Steyn Enterprises. Chaplin continued suffering denigration and political harassment after the Second World War. About This Quiz. Everything EW wrote is worth reading, of course, but I can truly recommend ""Why Hollywood is term of disparagement": Written in 1948, it is still the best dissection of the Dream Factory I have read. So far, so whatever. For a movie, you have to weave your views into a compelling story if you want people to pay to see it. In watching the clips (which is all I've seen of the movie), the direction is, imho, amateurish. Charlie Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux represents a narrative which is saturated with demoniacal bleakness which sees him positioned as a bigamist and wife-murderer. McQueen was maybe a less stylized or a more natural actor than Newman. Although you don't need to read the interview to notice that for yourself. Seems like Hollywood learned that if people want to hear a sermon they'll go to church, not a movie. 'http':'https';if(!d.getElementById(id)){js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src=p+"://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs"); © 2020 Mark Steyn Enterprises (US) Inc. All rights reserved. 'King Hearts and Coronets' provides a bare excuse for the murders in the family's heartless treatment of Louis' mother, but we really know that he's just seeking revenge, not trying to do good. Despite some genuinely comical scenes, the speech that Verdoux makes gives its deeper message - Verdoux was in it for the money. “To be shocked by the nature of my crime is nothing but a pretence… a sham! Your idea of Melvyn D is an interesting one, did he ever appear with Lucy in a drama? A bit hard on ol' Charlot, really, I have "Monsieur Verdoux" on DVD and enjoyed it, I bought it thanks to Evelyn Waugh's (EW) appreciation of Chaplin and the film in the essay: "The Man Hollywood Hates". 1:36 PREVIEW A Paris Boulevard. 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