1947, TSPDT Rank #193
Watching this movie was in some ways a sad experience for me - not because of its dark plot machinations (the film is actually delicious and satisfying in that respect) or the insinuations of a tragic end to the antihero's family, but because this movie could have been a full-blown masterpiece. And that potential is sitting right in front of your face for the entire duration of the film. See, in the opening credits of the film, you see the film was based on "an idea from Orson Welles". This is actually understating it a little bit. Orson Welles had pioneered the idea of the film, and had hoped to work on it with Chaplin. They had worked on an early version of the screenplay and were set to work on it together, when Chaplin dropped Welles from the project in order to have full control over the making of the film. Chaplin's point was that he didn't want to act in a film directed by someone else, and he wanted to have the creative control over his character and the other creative aspects. But for me, during the whole film, the maniacal, fanatical, film-buff voice in my head was screaming, "What if this was a darkly humorous story about a murderous family man, with a social agenda, starring Charlie Chaplin, and directed by Orson Welles?!?!" So of course the film's great even as it is - it's Chaplin! Even so, that sublimely perfect collaboration is now forever lost, seeing that both of its would-be participants are dead, leaving it as a tortuous dream for hard-core film buffs like myself.