Monsieur Verdoux [1947]

Can you buy the statement “Murder is the logical extension of business” ? Yes, it’s the idea of the protagonist, Monsieur Verdoux. [ ஃப்ரென்ச் சென்ட் பேர் மாதிரி இல்லை ? ]


Verdoux is the name of the skilled hero and Monsieur is just the title to the name [ equal to Mr in English – pronouncedmeu ssi eu” ]. I used to come across this word used by traffic police, when I ride in one way or stop beyond the stop-line in Pondicherry [ மிஸ்ஸெ.. எங்க‌ போறீங்க‌ ஒன்வேல‌ ? ]. Why French title ? First reason is that Chaplin movies were banned in US for his political inclination towards communism. Second is that the story is about a real-life serial murderer in France [ named Desire Landru ] and the screenplay adaptation has also France as the place.

I don’t remember seeing any of the talkies of Charlie Chaplin. The last film, I saw was Modern times. This film was introduced by SRamakrishnan, almost a year back. The interesting part of the film is that Chaplin is the script writer, protagonist,music composer and the director.


Verdoux is a common man who lives in France, with his wife and kid. He looses his bank job and finds a strange method of making money. He travels frequently across France in different names and lives different roles. His target is any rich widow woman and their unaccounted money. He manages to convince the different ladies of his life at different circumstances. There’s a subplot when Verdoux experiments his newly formulated poison on a lonely girl, he finds in streets. Meanwhile, affected people start complaining about him and the detectives get into action. One detective finds our hero, almost. In fact, he arrests him. We expect Verdoux to react aggressively for the arrest. No ! He reacts in a different manner. After all, he is a cool murderer.

Good things don’t prolong in life. While he tried to marry the nth rich lady in life, he gets trapped in a situation and escapes. Economy crashes during the world war and Verdoux looses his money and family from him. He meets someone on the road, whom he thought differently in the beginning. Police finds him and what happens is the end.


I found the root dialogue of ‘”கொலை குத்த‌ம்னா.. யுத்த‌மும் குத்த‌ம். Isn’t it ?!” of Hey Ram. Check this dialogue in this Chaplin’s film “One murder makes a villain; millions, a hero. Numbers sanctify, my good fellow!” – In fact it was taken from another 17th century reformer. Do you the root of kurudhipunal dialogue “Everyone has a breaking point ” – It’s from “12 Angry men”. Not only films.. their dialogues also travel across the borders.

All his career, Chaplin did his regular tramp character, edited in fast sequence, type of movies. This movie is extremely unusual from all his earlier works. But he couldn’t come out of his character fully in this movie – doing completely a serious role. Sometimes, verdoux’s body language changes to Chaplin’s tramp character. His characterization involves multiple roles – A calm family man, bank clerk, captain, business man, lover, philosopher, a clever investor and on top the common man who fights against the system to save his family.

Though he gets the money in an unethical manner, he behaves as a perfect family man at home. He never gets tensed. He instructs his kid to be kind with pets. A single sequence is used in this film to explain about his past job – he counts the stolen money at the speed of an automatic counting machine ! . I liked the sequence where he invites a poor girl to his home, for testing his newly formed poison. The sequence that follow was very interesting and the dialogues too.


The way he faces the detective was also an interesting part of the movie. Somehow, he takes the story to a comical one and ends the story with a good note. The boat sequences and the wedding party sequences are enjoyable one [ I laughed ! ]. Interestingly, the dialogue portion is too good as it involves about love, philosophy and economics. I am not sure whether this movie is remade in Tamil – but I recollect that a still of MRRadha [ in the cover of MRRadhayanam book ] resembles the way Chaplin posed for this movie. MRR is the only capable artist who could have done this in Tamil, swimmingly.


One fine dialog to end with.

Priest : May the Lord have mercy on your soul.

Henri Verdoux : Why not? After all, it belongs to Him.

Simple n good movie.



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