Monsieur Verdoux (1947)


“Monsieur Verdoux” (1947)





to watch, and to guess


There are 2 obvious films you can see and imagine here.

The story is famous: Orson Welles proposed the idea of this film to Chaplin, wanting to direct him in a movie that wouldn’t be a comedy. Things went wrong, Chaplin wouldn’t be directed by Welles, but bought him the idea, and turned it into a comedy.

What we are left with is a bad film. Chaplin never really adapted to sound film. His best film was made while films were already spoken, but the film was silent. Than he made the Great Dictator which is a good film, but placed in context, for its courage and how it tells us today how the world was partially shaped back than. After this Verdoux, we have 2 interesting films, for the self-reference, not because they are good. And this is just a bad film. We do sense where Chaplin is speaking about himself. The guy working in a bank for a lifetime, only to be replaced by the winds of change, forced to use his “genius” in other ways. Chaplin never took it well that his brightness would be replaced for newer shining talents (like Welles himself). Here we no longer have the tramp, the jokes don’t work now, and i suppose they didn’t already work than. The frantic rhythm of Chaplin’s best silent features is lost, he doesn’t control the pace of the word, the thrill of the dialogue. To me, he was never a great director, except for a few transcendental moments (City Lights the brightest of all), but he always was an incredible performer, with a humanistic sensitivity in his heart. But here, not even the moralizing final moment works.

But something truly exciting can be made here. We can and should imagine what film would we see today if Welles had directed it. At this moment he was developing some of his most powerful ideas. Narrative and Space, backed by Framing and Editing. All conducted by his gripping vision. That’s what he was working on at this moment. Where would he lead this? How would he handle the layers of the different mistresses of Verdoux? Would he change the stance of the camera? Break the linearity of the episodes? Frame each episode in a different way? How would he balance the dialogs with the physical acting of Chaplin? What would the center the project be?

If Chaplin and Welles would get along working together, we’ll never know although i’d guess no. But it’s worth imagining. Here we look at a film that wasn’t, that’s the fascinating part. The one we can look at isn’t really worth it. So, here’s the always interesting case of a not so good film which is worth seeing.

My opinion: 2/5


This comment on IMDb



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