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Monsieur Verdoux [Blu-ray]
Review by Gary Tooze
Theatrical: Charles Chaplin Productions
Video: Criterion Collection Spine #653
Region: 'A' (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)
Disc Size: 47,026,517,313 bytes
Feature Size: 36,016,257,024 bytes
Video Bitrate: 34.49 Mbps
Case: Standard Blu-ray case
Release date: March 26th, 2013
Aspect ratio: 1.33:1
Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps
Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video
LPCM Audio English 1152 kbps 1.0 / 48 kHz / 1152 kbps / 24-bit
English (SDH), none
• Chaplin Today: “Monsieur Verdoux,” a 2003 documentary on
the film’s production and release, featuring filmmaker
Claude Chabrol and actor Norman Lloyd (27:01)
Chaplin company Roy Export, Kate Guyonvarch,
and author Charles Maland (24:54)
Description: Charlie Chaplin plays shockingly against type in his most controversial film, a brilliant and bleak black comedy about money, marriage, and murder. Chaplin is a twentieth-century bluebeard, an enigmatic family man who goes to extreme lengths to support his wife and child, attempting to bump off a series of wealthy widows (including one played by the indefatigable Martha Raye, in a hilarious performance). This deeply philosophical and wildly entertaining film is a work of true sophistication, both for the moral questions it dares to ask and for the way it deconstructs its megastar’s lovable on-screen persona.
"Von Clausewitz said that war is the logical extension of diplomacy; Monsieur Verdoux feels that murder is the logical extension of business." With his controversial "comedy of murders" Monsieur Verdoux, Charles Chaplin makes his final, definitive break with the Little Tramp character that had brought him fame and fortune. Verdoux (Chaplin), a mild-mannered family man of pre-war France, has hit upon a novel method of supporting his loved ones. He periodically heads out of town, assumes an alias, marries a foolish, wealthy woman, then murders her for the insurance money. He does this thirteen times with success, but wife #14, brassy Martha Raye, proves impossible to kill (nor does she ever suspect what Verdoux has in mind for her). A subplot develops when Verdoux, planning to test a new poison, chooses streetwalker Marilyn Nash as his guinea pig. She tells him so sad a life story that Verdoux takes pity on her, gives her some money, and sends her on her way. Years later, the widowed and impoverished Verdoux meets Nash once more; now she is the mistress of a munitions magnate. This ironic twist sets the stage for the finale, when Verdoux, finally arrested for his crimes and on trial for his life, gently argues in his own defense that he is an "amateur" by comparison to those profiteers who build weapons for war. "It's all business.Excerpt from MRQE located HERE
Chaplin's self-styled 'comedy of murders' (from an idea by Orson Welles) about a gent who marries short-lived wealthy women was generally disliked on its first appearance: people found it slow, cold, bitter and insufficiently funny. Now it shapes up as Chaplin's most startling, most invigorating movie: its icy temperature is positively bracing after the hot syrup of his earlier work (though a dollop of that survives in the waif character played by Marilyn Nash). Chaplin uses his customary fastidious gestures to emphasis human nastiness - typified by the brassy Martha Raye, who plays the most vulgar woman ever created, chattering away with her mouth full of croissant and laughing not like one drain but ten.Excerpt from TimeOut located HERE
Image : NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
Monsieur Verdoux arrives on Blu-ray from Criterion and aside from some light damage in the credits has a solid transfer to 1080P. The image has strong contrast with some nice film grain in the backgrounds showing through. This is dual-layered with a high bitrate and is a solid representation of the film. There are frequent moments of depth and a few that show some weakness - that may well have been present in the original production. Overall though the presentation is a very positive one - consistent and clean with some surprising higher level of detail. This Blu-ray is, predictably, the best home theater presentation of the film available.
CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION
Criterion supply an authentic 1.0 channel mono track via a linear PCM transfer at 1152 kbps. It is clean with no flaws, but predictably flat. Chaplin composed the score which seems to benefit from the lossless rendering. There are optional English subtitles and my Momitsu has identified it as being a region 'A' disc.
The Criterion has extensive digital supplements to the feature starting with Chaplin Today: “Monsieur Verdoux,” a 2003 documentary on the film’s production and release, featuring filmmaker Claude Chabrol and actor Norman Lloyd discussing the film for almost 1/2 an hour. Charlie Chaplin and the American Press, is a fascinating, new documentary featuring the director of the Chaplin company Roy Export, Kate Guyonvarch, and author Charles Maland commenting on how, for 60-years, the Press of the time treated, and mistreated the icon and how the role of Verdoux affected the public's perception. It is 25-minutes long. There is an illustrated audio interview with actor Marilyn Nash for 8-minutes by Jeffrey Vance. There are also radio advertisements and trailers plus the package has a liner notes booklet featuring an essay by critic Ignatiy Vishnevetsky and reprinted pieces by Chaplin and critic André Bazin.
March 3rd, 2013
About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 5000 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.
Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who
focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I
find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction.
Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD
Gary W. Tooze
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