Saturday, March 20, 2010
I finally got a chance to see Charlie Chaplin's (at this point in his career going by the name Charles Chaplin)film Monsieur Verdoux. I had been apprehensive about watching many of his later films after The Great Dictator. I suppose it's that thing where a lot of the comedians from the 20's and 30's later work doesn't stand up as well as their earlier work.
Not Chaplin. I think some of it had to do with the fact he wasn't trying to play the character of the Tramp past 60 years old. He was doing different things. But the thing that made his movies unique was even after he relented to talking pictures (although he really didn't make his first full talking picture until 1940) there was still that element of the silent era that remained in his work.
And watching his later films, they weren't that complex. The stories, the names of the characters and everything were very simplistic. And I think that's what made it brilliant.
And for someone who seemed very reluctant to enter the age of sound, he wrote some really fantastic dialogue. And unlike many of his contemporaries from the silent era, had a voice that translated well to the sound era.
I don't know if Monsieur Verdoux is the best picture he ever made. But it is his most interesting.
First off the movie was based on an idea by Orson Welles. And for another Chaplin plays a rather nasty character in it. But not without adding a certain amount of sympathy to the role which he added to the Tramp. Despite the fact Verdoux is a murderer, you like him.
I think that's mostly due to the image Chaplin had created for himself with his films. You cannot hate Charlie Chaplin. Even if he's killing people in cold blood. You cannot hate him. And he adds an extra fold to the plot which allows you to have a little bit of sympathy for why he's doing what he does.
Well, just a little bit.
I suppose in this age of realism, some people might not enjoy the fake feeling of the movie. One of which being even though it's set in France, no one speaks in at least a faux French accent.
But if you can suspend your disbelief and get past that, and just enjoy the dark comedy for some really great dialogue and some really funny moments you will not be disappointed.
And Verdoux has such a great last line in the film that is so simplistic and yet it still packs a punch.