Monsieur Verdoux

Screening on Film
Directed by Charles Chaplin.
With Charles Chaplin, Martha Raye, Isobel Elsom.
US, 1947, 35mm, black & white, 123 min.

One of the blackest comedies ever to emerge from Hollywood, Chaplin’s Monsieur Verdoux is based partly on the real-life crimes of a French Bluebeard who successively married and murdered his unsuspecting wives. Casting himself in the title role, Chaplin plays a hard-working bank clerk who loses his job of thirty years. The only means he can find to support his crippled wife and his son is to secretly court, wed, and kill a series of wealthy women. In a memorable supporting role, Martha Raye plays a highly uncooperative new spouse who manages to avoid death by poison only to save Verdoux when his attempt to drown her backfires.

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Treasures from the Harvard Film Archive: J–M