(Review originally written at 1 December 2009)

Charlie Chaplin is of course best known for the slapstick work he did in the silent period. He however made some equally good and also equally funny talky movies, of which this movie is perhaps his greatest moment as a talking actor.

In a way the movie got made like and old fashioned Chaplin movie, in terms of the character's approach, the story and also the humor. This movie has still some slapstick moments in it but it foremost is a comedy that relies on its story and acting performances. It's a more subtle and darker comedy, without being an heavy one. I still wished the movie would had some more slapstick humor in it, since the movie begins so incredibly well and promising with this. Perhaps this was done on intention to let people think this movie was going to be simply like a classic Chaplin movie.

The movie foremost is a great accomplishment from Chaplin himself, who hadn't made a movie for 7 years before completing this one. As always he didn't just starred in it but also wrote and directed the movie. With "The Great Dictator" he had already shown before that he could come out of the silent movie era and still make some great comedies and with this movies he shows his talents once more. He also with this movie shows that he can play other comedy characters just as effectively, without portraying the tramp with his cane and bowler. You also have to remember that Chaplin was close at being 60 years old already at the time of this production but his never ever showed on screen. Instead it looked liked they had to use heavy make-up in the later scenes to really make him look like an 'older' guy.

Basically Chaplin's performance is what makes this movie such a great one to watch. He shows that he was a real great actor and not just comical-wise. It's a great role and he also brings out the best of the other actors. Martha Raye was for instance also real enjoyable in her role.

The movie its story itself got based on true story and the first script for it got written by Orson Welles. It still seems like a quite odd thing to set a comedy around a lady-killer, who seduces widows for their money before killing them off. No surprise that the movie had some controversy surrounding it at the time. But that's what makes black comedies also often such strong ones. It doesn't use everyday normal characters but instead focus on the more downsides of life and the true nature of people and their struggle for survival in a tough world.

A late Charles Chaplin movie that is perhaps his greatest talking moment, actor-wise.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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