Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Chaplin's Odd Couple

Not a match made in heaven, you'd say? Indeed, Monsieur Verdoux (Charles Chaplin) may have bitten off more than he can chew when he ties the knot with brassy, less-than-classy Annabella Bonheur (Martha Raye). Much as he admires her healthy bank balance, Annabella's husband will soon learn that getting his hands on it is tougher than he expected.

But off-screen this was a true mutual admiration society. Chaplin thought Raye's facility for slapstick comedy in keeping with the great traditions of silent film days, while she regarded him, her co-star and director, as nothing less than a genius.

Audiences may not have quite been ready for the dark humor and pointed social commentary of Verdoux when it was released in 1947. Decades later, though, it's easy to admire Chaplin's skill as a filmmaker - and the comic gifts he spotlighted in one of Martha's best films.

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