Monsieur Verdoux

Running Friday through Thursday this week at NWFF, Charlie Chaplin’s 1947 serial-killer comedy Monsieur Verdoux effectively assassinated his Little Tramp character and practically murdered his career as well. The film is a lighthearted variation on the Bluebeard theme—meaning a marrier/murderer who preys upon successive lovelorn old ladies. Chaplin’s amusingly prim, twitchy character begins narrating his tale from the grave. Downsized during the ’20s, he explains, he takes to his new “business” with fastidious abandon, profiting from a dozen spousal bank accounts. Verdoux is uneven, sometimes sentimental (like all Chaplin films), but the director-star still gives himself plenty of comic business that keeps us rooting for him—as he frantically prunes his roses, pounds his piano, incinerates his wives, and befriends stray cats. By the movie’s end, as fascism and World War II approach, Verdoux asks of murder, “Does not the world encourage it?” His courtroom confession is still startling, because he blames not psychology but economics. Northwest Film Forum, 1515 12th Ave., 267-5380, www.nwfilmforum.org. $5–$8.50. 7 and 9:30 p.m. BRIAN MILLER

Mon., July 14, 7 p.m., 2008

 
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