From the lips of a dying man at a dimly-lit Italian dock, Guy Van Stratten, the disreputable American fortune hunter, receives invaluable information about the powerful financial titan, Gregory Arkadin. In high hopes that something good might come out of it, Guy finally approaches the cryptic multi-million tycoon, intent on exploiting him; instead, the ambitious opportunist finds himself mysteriously hired by Mr Arkadin, to reconstruct the history of his murky past before 1927. However, as the methodical detective scours the globe to put together the dangerously knotty puzzle, people end up dead, gradually closing in on Van Stratten, who now begins to shed light on this murderously difficult assignment. Are those cases linked together? In the end, has the reclusive magnate something to hide?Written by
There are five versions of the film, Mr. Arkadin. -There is the public domain version, the one most common in America. After the opening credits, it begins with Van Stratten's narration on the docks. It is told in linear time. -There is the European version, called Confidential Report. It has footage of papier maché bats in the credits, and has some footage not seen in the public domain version. It is told in flashbacks. -There is the version currently in possession of Corinth Films. According to Welles friend Peter Bogdanovich, this version and its first four scenes correspond directly to Orson Welles' intentions. It is told in flashbacks. -There is a Spanish language version that corresponds directly to the Corinth version. However, the roles played by Katina Paxinou and Suzanne Flon are now played by Spanish actresses (Irene López Heredia and Amparo Rivelles). -As of 2005, there is a version being prepared by the Munich Filmmuseum that not only contains footage found in different versions of the film, but also corresponds as closely as possible to the complete intentions of Orson Welles. See more »
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Welle's vision peeks through the bad editing
I'm a big fan of Orson Welles and have recently watched the new Criterion release of Mr Arkadin the Corinth version as well as the new Confidential Report and was somewhat disappointed. I had seen Arkadin on TCM (the old Confidential Report version) a few years ago and was equally disappointed. However, I just viewed the Comprehensive Version and I now have a greater appreciation for the film. The Comprehensive Version was created by using five know versions of the film and assembled with the guidance of several experts including Peter Bogdanovich. Welles vision does shine through but the film as it stands does have weaknesses.
I feel the film is weak in the following areas.
Sound: the entire soundtrack was re-recorded during post production with Welles himself doing the voices of many of the male characters and it is a constant distraction. Modern films are also re-recorded but they add room tone to prevent the sterile sound that plagues Arkadin.
Photography: The film has generally good photography but Welles use of weird angles distracts from the story rather than enhancing it. It is almost like another filmmaker is doing a parody of Welles. The footage of the airplane shown at the start of the film is covered by dirt on the lens on within the gate of the camera.
Production Design: Welles has very busy backgrounds shown in many scenes and with the use of deep focus causes a distraction rather than enhance the story. A better choice might have been to show the background at the beginning of a scene sequence and then have the actors appear in front of a more neutral background.
Makeup: Welles makeup is over the top and again is a distraction and lacks believability. The hairpiece, the beard and wedge shape nose are all too cartoonish. Welles also wore a fake nose in Touch of Evil but it worked well due to the quality of studio makeup artists.
Editing: There was many well lit shots that appear too briefly. One example, near the start of the film, at the docks where the lead character (Guy) is lined up with two other men. They are back-lit with their faces covered with shadows; Guy then walks backward into a beam of light which then exposes his face. But due to the erratic cutting, this shot is shown for only a brief second. This could have been caused by the editor who replaced Welles during post production.
The story itself is rather weak and it is often confusing. I didn't care much for the characters nor did I find them interesting. The film's ending was flat and didn't offer much closure to the open issues. The empty airplane shown at the start of the film does not generate enough curiosity for the viewer. Welles based the story on three Harry Lime radio shows (which are included on the new Criterion release discs). Nearly all of Welles other film scripts were based on adaptations of books. Welles seems to be an excellent screenplay writer and editor but perhaps a bit weak when it comes to content creation.
Acting: the actors who played Guy (Robert Arden) and Millie (Patricia Medina) were poorly cast for their parts. Both actors, Guy in particular, overacted most of the time and would be more at home in a B movie. But after watching a clip on Welles directing Arden, it seems that Welles is encouraging him to act in such a manner.
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