The book examines Chaplin's evolving perspective on dark comedy in his three war films, Shoulder Arms (1918), The Great Dictator (1940), and Monsieur Verdoux (1947). In the first he uses the genre in a groundbreaking manner but yet for a pro-war cause. In Dictator dark comedy is applied in an antiwar way. In Verdoux he actually embraces the genre as an individual in defense against a society that's out to destroy him. All three are pivotal films in the development of the genre in film, with the latter two movies being very controversial for their time.