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Monsieur Verdoux Blu-ray Review

Monsieur Verdoux Blu-ray

“Monsieur Verdoux” is an underrated Charlie Chaplin film.

For the uninitiated, “Monsieur Verdoux” is a non-Tramp, talkie, black comedy film that Charlie Chaplin wrote, directed, and starred in. The story, which is based on an idea by Orson Welles, revolves around a prissy, manipulative, gold digging, lying, murderer named Henri Verdoux. You see, after formerly working as a banker, Henri has discovered a more lucrative line of work by marrying rich widows with the plan to murder them for their money and belongings in order to provide for his own family. As a result of his new work, he is constantly on the road to meet his various wives. Will Henri be caught or will his scheme keep going?

In the pantheon of classic Charlie Chaplin films, “Monsieur Verdoux” rarely gets the attention it deserves which is a real shame as it’s quite a clever and funny black comedy. Yes, it may be a bit lengthy and preachy (especially at the end), but the film’s dark, risqué material and post-depression commentary is profoundly unique. Sure, we’ve seen films like this since its release, but for the time period it was clearly ahead of its time.

Even more impressive here is Chaplin’s acting. For an actor who is essentially synonymous with the Tramp character, it’s refreshing to see him take a complete 180 as a creepy, murderous slimeball who manages to be funny and even weirdly sympathetic at times. It’s incredibly hard to make a character that walks the line between bad and good likable (or at least watchable), but Chaplin does so with flying colors. Of course, Chaplin does drift into some familiar physical comedy territory here with moments such as the money and page flipping and the slapping sequences, but he tends to lean more on dialogue centric humor such as with the hilarious moment where he thinks he poisoned himself.

Video/Audio:

‘Verdoux,’ which is presented in 1.33:1 1080p, certainly looks better than it ever has with this new 2K digital restoration. With that said, the print does have a few problems with lines appearing every now and then. At the start of the film, the right side of the screen contains several noticeable black lines that are a bit distracting.

The Uncompressed Mono track deserves much praise as the audio has been cleaned up here. The music, dialogue, and sound f/x have never sounded sharper.

Extras:

 * A booklet featuring photographs, an essay by Ignativ Vishnevetsky, an article by Charlie Chaplin, and an article by French critic Andre Bazin.

 * French, German and U.S. trailers for “Monsieur Verdoux.”

 * 8 radio ads.

 * “Charlie Chaplin And The American Press”- An interesting piece about American press coverage of Chaplin, how “Monsieur Verdoux” was received in the U.S., Chaplin’s public image, Chaplin’s struggles, etc. Still images of photographs and articles have been included here.

 * “Marilyn Nash”- An audio interview (with photos playing over it) with the actress who made her film debut here. She talks about her life, how she got the role for ‘Verdoux,’ her audition, the film shoot, her observations of Chaplin, etc.

 * “Chaplin Today: Monsieur Verdoux”- A documentary about the film controversies and all.

Summary: If you’ve never seen “Monsieur Verdoux” before, give it a rent at the very least. I think you will be surprised by what you see.

March 26, 2013 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , ,

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