1001 Flicks

Regularly updated blog charting the most important films of the last 104 years.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

197. Monsieur Verdoux (1946)

Directed By Charlie Chaplin


Man charms and kills women for money in order to support wife and child, he is tried and executed.


That synopsis doesn't really sound like a Chaplin film, but if he was anything throughout his life it was a socially and politically conscious man and this film is that. Chaplin figured this was the smartest film he ever made and he was quite right. He bought the concept from Orson Wells and made his own changes. Changes which didn't help his image as a communist in America.

The political content of the film is just there in a couple of minutes near the end where he compares his killing to that made by bombs which also catches women and children unaware, and he is such a sympathetic character that you actually thinking incredibly more beneficent than those same governments. At least Verdoux chooses his victims and can show compassion and has the balls to get to know them before killing them.

Verdoux is a cruel and cynical character, cruel because he is a murderer and cynical because of the circumstances of his life, sacked form a job as a bank clerk in his middle life he finds it impossible to care for his invalid wife and child except by scamming and killing women. He becomes tremendously cynical also because it is the only way he can keep living his life. But he is ultimately endearing, he is funny and he loves something.

This is possibly one of the first completely sympathetic serial killers in English language films, we had one here before with Fritz Lang's M. Verdoux is never the monster that M is however, his motivation does not arise from disease but from circumstances, a ruthless society made him ruthless, a cynical society made him cynical. An excellent film.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The film's premise is that "murder is the logical extension of capitalism". The lead character kills to make money, he is hence not (in his eyes) a murderer.

Chaplin was subjected to unusually hostile treatment by the press while promoting the opening of the film, and some boycotts took place during its short run. It has since gained enough of a following to be considered a cult film -- Chaplin fans are divided over its quality. Its dark humor, so strikingly different from Chaplin's usual sentimentality, is perhaps better appreciated today.

Despite its poor critical and commercial performance, the film was nominated for the 1948 Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

In 1964, Chaplin allowed Verdoux to be re-released along with several Chaplin films to play at the New York Plaza as part of a Chaplin Festival. Verdoux was not only the biggest hit of the entire festival but it broke box-office records for the Plaza. It has been assumed that the reason for the successful re-release was the film being put out during a time of more overt criticism of the government.

Verdoux shows compassion:

Saturday, December 08, 2007

196. Gilda (1946)

Directed by Charles Vidor


This guy owns an illegal casino in Buenos Aires, he hires this American guy who's a bit dodgy, and marries Rita Hayworth who had a previous relation to said shady guy. Shady guy hates/loves her and is a complete bastard and ends up with her. Tungsten is the Mcguffin.


Well the film isn't anything special but Rita Hayworth is worth it. Basically it is your run of the mill post-war noir, there's some escaped Nazis in the background, an "exotic" location some voice-over a dangerous dame and a sinister character. None of this is new, none of it is particularly smart.

Rita Hayworth as Gilda is sex on legs, however, and that is the sole reason for the deserved inclusion of this title on the list. She removes two gloves and a necklace during a dance for god's sakes, and she is till sexy while doing it, and there is not a fleck of stubble in her armpits. That's a classy lady for ya.

So there isn't much to say about the film, it is enjoyable enough, it entertains you throughout and it has a very sexy lead, other than that it is average.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

* A tribute to Gilda was paid in 1981 by the famous Argentine rock band Serú Girán in their album Peperina. Their song "Salir de la Melancolía" ("Out of Melancholy") starts with a Spanish-dubbed version of Rita Hayworth's famous line just before being slapped by Glenn Ford after performing her "glove-striptease"; the album's cover features an acknowledgment to "the unknown Mexican voice actress" who had actually spoken the line.

* A short portion of Gilda, just before Gilda makes her first appearance, is seen playing in a scene from the 1994 movie The Shawshank Redemption. As this scene plays out, Morgan Freeman's character remarks "I love when she does that shit with her hair...".

* A poster for the film can be seen in David Lynch's Mulholland Dr.. Laura Harring's character, an amnesia victim, takes the name "Rita" after seeing it.

* In Vittorio De Sica's film, Ladri di biciclette (The Bicycle Thief), the poster in which Ricci is putting up for his first job at the "Florida" is an original promotional poster for Gilda.

Shock! Gilda Strips:

Thursday, December 06, 2007

195. It's a Wonderful Life (1946)

Directed By Frank Capra


Socialist Mr. Bailey fights the tentacles of fat capitalist swine Mr. Potter to the point of near suicide, only to find out that his red attitude to life did help some plebs live some kind of more salubrious life. He should have killed himself, fucking red, didn't even believe in angels!


There is something funny in the way that Frank Capra's films are considered the all-American films, with Jimmy Stewart and Cary Grant defending the American Dream... this is said by the same people who would be shocked to realise how socialist these films are. I think that has to do with the whole history of demonisation of socialism in the US.

And no Frank Capra film is more about socialism and a community helping each other against the greedy powers of the local corporation, personified by Mr. Potter, who owns the Bank, all the shops, everything but Mr. Baileys cooperative loan company which through its inherent humanism and sense of local community keeps being alive against all odds.

And then there's the whole more emotional part of it with the difference that Mr. Bailey has made in people's lives, after an angel shows him what the world would have been like without him in it. That difference can be seen in his family of course, but more touchingly in the people who had their lives destroyed by Mr. Potter instead of helped by Mr. Bailey, at an economic and personal level. A much deeper film than it is often given credit for and a lovely thing. It is a wonderful film after all.

No need to talk about the acting, Jimmy Stewart is always great.

Final Grade



From Wikipedia:

The film's success decades after its release came as a welcome but unexpected surprise to those who worked on it, including Frank Capra. "It's the damnedest thing I've ever seen," he told the Wall Street Journal in 1984. "The film has a life of its own now and I can look at it like I had nothing to do with it. I'm like a parent whose kid grows up to be president. I'm proud … but it's the kid who did the work. I didn't even think of it as a Christmas story when I first ran across it. I just liked the idea."

An even more satisfying ending: