Macbeth, the Thane of Glamis, receives a prophecy from a trio of witches that one day he will become King of Scotland. Consumed by ambition and spurred to action by his wife, Macbeth murders his king and takes the throne for himself.
The Moorish General Othello is manipulated into thinking that his new wife Desdemona has been carrying on an affair with his Lieutenant Michael Cassio when in reality, it is all part of the scheme of a bitter Ensign named Iago.
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 »
Essentially, 'Mr. Arkadin' is Orson Welles' attempt in using cinema to elevate Pulp into Myth. Based on "a lot of bad radio scripts" (in Welles' words) written for the Harry Lime radio shows, one could also read it as a more personal attempt to free himself from the shackles of 'Citizen Kane' (with which it has numerous , although superficial, parallels) and be reborn as a Europeoan filmmaker. The fact that (again) Welles was restricted by budget and eventually dismissed from the editing room due to the commercial concerns of his producer Louis Dolivet does not diminish what is still a highly intriguing work. In fact, 'Mr. Arkadin' has become something of an enigma unto itself and the story of it's creation and subsequent undoing is as fascinating as the film itself.
For those interested in investigating further, The Criterion Collection have done a wonderful 3 disc edition which collates all the available edits (including two Spanish versions which are known, hilariously, by the unexplained mis-crediting of the lead actor!?) and working them into a 'final' version hinted at by Welles' notes and conversations with the ubiquitous Peter Bogdanovich (who also features in the documentary, unsurprisingly). This 'final' version, while far from perfect, restores the original flashback structure as well as the original beginning and ending sequences. On the first disc, however, is the 'Corinth' version (originally discovered by Bogdanovich) that already incorporates some of the author's original intentions. This particular edit also features a highly illuminating commentary track by Welles scholars Jonathan Rosenbaum and James Naremore who consider this version to be the most satisfying. Also included are three mp3's of the aforementioned Harry Lime radio plays that had a direct influence on the story, featurettes by Welles biographer and actor Simon Callow, and a highly welcome reprint of the Mr. Arkadin novel (or novelisation? - you decide) with an excellent newly commissioned introduction by Robert Polito. All in all, this set is a must for the Welles aficionado and should be of interest to anyone with a true appreciation of cinema.
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