Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Monsieur Verdoux (1947)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Monsieur Verdoux (1947)

In Charlie Chaplin's outrageous black comedy (subtitled "A Comedy of Murder" and "The Story of a Modern French Bluebeard"), there was a complete revision of the Tramp role with Chaplin portraying a bigamist serial wife killer, whose preferred modus operandi was to marry middle-aged wealthy women, murder them, and appropriate their money:

  • the film's opening voice-over when straight-laced Parisian, unemployed bank clerk-teller Henri Verdoux (Charlie Chaplin), a dapper gentleman, explained why he had to resort to marrying and murdering wealthy widows, after the depression hit in 1930: "It was then that I became occupied in liquidating members of the opposite sex. This I did as a strictly business enterprise, to support a home and family"; the camera slowly panned over his tomb marker and accompanying tombstones
  • his family that he had to support consisted of invalid, wheelchair-bound crippled wife Mona (Mady Correll) and young son Peter (Allison Roddan); Verdoux used several aliases (e.g., Varnay, Bonheur, and Floray, etc.) in order to marry almost a dozen women simultaneously
  • the scene in which Verdoux was about to poison a young Girl (Marilyn Nash) with a glass of poisoned red wine after taking her in and feeding her a meal of toast and scrambled eggs - she spoke of her previous love of a man who died in the war: "Life is wonderful....Everything, a spring morning, a summer's night, music, art, love..There is such a thing...I was in love once...Giving, sacrificing. The same way a mother feels for her child"; she explained how she was married to a man who had been wounded in the war and became a hopeless invalid: "That's why I loved him. He needed me, depended on me. He was like a child. But he was more than a child to me. He was a religion. My very breath. I'd have killed for him. No, love is something very real and deep. I know that"; as a result, Verdoux decided to spare her life by replacing her wine glass with the poison in it before she had taken a sip
Poisoning Scene with Young Girl
  • the comedic highlight of the film - one of the would-be victims, widowed Annabella Bonheur (Martha Raye) kept winning lotteries and also proved challenging to eliminate, including the scene of Verdoux's attempt to murder her in a rowboat while she was fishing; when her back was turned, he picked up a rope noose to strangle her - but then she turned back and caught him in the act; he sheepishly concealed his deadly intentions by crossing his legs, linking his hands over his knee, swaying back and forth, and widely grinning; and then when he tried to chloroform her with a handkerchief, she jostled the boat and dislodged him from his seat
  • Henri Verdoux's courtroom speech - a response to the Judge and Prosecutor after being convicted and found guilty in a trial - he explained how society was hypocritical; he argued that world wars, dictators, and mass genocidal killings were sanctioned by society and other countries, but his own crime of killing only a few out of necessity (in order to survive) brought about a sentence of death by guillotine: "However remiss the prosecutor has been in complimenting me, he at least admits that I have brains. Thank you, Monsieur, I have. And for thirty-five years I used them honestly. After that, nobody wanted them. So I was forced to go into business for myself. As for being a mass killer, does not the world encourage it? Is it not building weapons of destruction for the sole purpose of mass killing? Has it not blown unsuspecting women and little children to pieces? And done it very scientifically? As a mass killer, I am an amateur by comparison. However, I do not wish to lose my temper, because very shortly, I shall lose my head. Nevertheless, upon leaving this spark of earthly existence, I have this to say: I shall see you all... very soon... very soon"
  • Verdoux's final resigned words with a priest who blessed him: "May the Lord have mercy on your soul", and Verdoux's response: "Why not? After all, it belongs to him"

Henri Verdoux's Tomb-Marker

Attempted Murder of Widow in a Rowboat

Verdoux's Courtroom Speech

With Priest Before Execution: "Why not? After all, it belongs to him"


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