Comedy based on the characterization of a modern Parisian Bluebeard treads danger shoals indeed. Even if the accent were more effective, the fundamentals are unsound when it’s revealed that Chaplin has been driven to marrying and murdering middling mesdames in order to provide for his ailing wife and their son of 10 years’ marriage.
Chaplin generates little sympathy. His broad-mannered antics, as a many-aliased fop on the make for impressionable matrons; the telltale technique, a hangover from his bankteller’s days, of counting the bundles of francs in the traditional nervous manner of rapid finger movement; the business of avoiding Martha Raye at that garden party, when he finally woos and wins Isobel Elsom; the neo-American Traged y hokum in the rowboat-on-the-lake scene with Raye; the mixed bottles of poisoned wine [again Raye, with oldtime musicomedy star Ada-May (Weeks) as the blowsy buxom blonde of a maid in support]; and all the rest of it is only spotty.
Chaplin’s endeavor to get his ‘common man’ ideology into the film militates against its comedy values. Point is that depressions in the economy force us into being ruthless villains and murderers, despite the fact we are actually kind and sympathetic.
Chaplin also rings in another of his favorite themes, his strong feelings against war.
Chaplin’s direction is disjointed on occasion, although perhaps the natural enough result of a leisurely production schedule which ranged up to five years. Chaplin’s score, however, is above par, fortifying the progression in no small measure.
1947: Nomination: Best Original Screenplay