Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
USA, 1947. Charles Chaplin Productions. Screenplay by Charles Chaplin, based on an idea by Orson Welles. Cinematography by Roland Totheroh. Produced by Charles Chaplin. Music by Charles Chaplin. Production Design by John Beckman. Costume Design by Drew Tetrick. Film Editing by Willard Nico.
Charles Chaplin is adorable in this hilarious black comedy about an impoverished bank clerk whose only way to support his invalid wife and child during the Depression is to marry rich old women under an assumed name and then murder them for the cash. He goes from town to town in his native France in a complete moral haze until a chance encounter with a sensitive young woman makes him think twice about his lifestyle. It isn’t long before his actions catch up with him, which allows Chaplin the opportunity to make some very interesting observations about morality and murder. Expertly produced and extremely well written by Chaplin himself (from an idea by Orson Welles, according to the credits), it’s a delightful romp that features many of the maestro’s common themes (the curative love of a good woman, the moral soap box in the conclusion), but as usual it’s all pulled off with expert style and wit.
The Criterion Collection: #652
Academy Award Nomination: Best Original Screenplay