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 of it, Guy finally approaches the multi-million tycoon intent on exploiting him, only to be mysteriously hired by Mr Arkadin, to reconstruct his murky past history prior to 1927 instead. But, 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 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
When the camera is facing Guy and Mily as they are watching the religious procession, he is standing to her left. When the camera is behind them, he is standing to her right. See more »
And now I'm going to tell you about a scorpion. This scorpion wanted to cross a river, so he asked the frog to carry him. No, said the frog, no thank you. If I let you on my back you may sting me and the sting of the scorpion is death. Now, where, asked the scorpion, is the logic in that? For scorpions always try to be logical. If I sting you, you will die. I will drown. So, the frog was convinced and allowed the scorpion on his back. But, just in the middle of the river, he felt a terrible ...
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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 »
Not for Newbies - make this one of the last Welles pictures you see, and you'll love it.
To get the full value out of Arkadin, i recommend you only see it once you've seen most other Welles pictures, from the Good (Kane, Ambersons, Trial, Falstaff, Touch of Evil), The Bad... okay, they're all still interesting, i wouldn't call any of them bad, but some of them were more marred by production conditions (Othello, Macbeth) or cutting by the studio (Lady from Shanghai) than others. If you've fallen in love with Welles' brilliant pictures, seen the times when he wasn't able to realise his ambitions, and heard about all his unfinished films and seen the tantalising segments from some of them (notably, for me, Merchant of Venice and famously The Other Side of the Wind), you'll appreciate that we were able to see Mr Arkadin at all!
So while i know there is so much to admire in Arkadin, that each frame is aching with Wellesian visual beauty (which is closer to unusual/strangeness than classical beauty), i know that most people, especially Wellesian newbies, will find Arkadin inaccessible. The fact that it is quite difficult to follow, and its dialogue is often hard to understand, is made worse by the fact that its picture and soundtrack are in bad condition on all available video/dvd releases. The other notable thing about Arkadin is that it is available in different forms (like most Welles movies). Welles' initial Arkadin must have been quite disconcerting indeed. Like they usually did, the studio cut a fair portion of it, but still left it in its flashback form (which varies from one to two party scenes). Later on, someone, i don't know who, reordered Arkadin so it played out in chronological order. This is the version available for wide release in America, with Tony Curtis (for what reason i don't know) doing an introduction, and talking more about Kane than Arkadin. The only australian release of Arkadin at present seems to be the chronological one, so if i ever get my hands on the others i may write separate reviews on those.
And no it is not sufficient to sum Arkadin up as a poor remake of Kane. It has only superficial elements in common with Kane (mystery into true nature of old man, flashbacks), but visually it is nothing like Kane. I always put off watching it because i was upset by people's saying it was a poor man's Citizen Kane - but whoever said that can't have seen the same Arkadin i did.
For Welles fans there is so much to marvel at. It is one brilliant, original frame after another. I just couldn't watch it slow enough. I had to pause it about every ten seconds to wind back and watch something again and go "oooh" and "aaah." It also has sexy Patricia Medina and a great score.
Some favourite scenes:
The tracking back shot of Van Stratten (Robert Arden) going up the steps to Zouk's place (Akim Tamiroff).
The scenes of snow falling outside Zouk's place.
Every scene where Van Stratten is interviewing an eccentric character from Arkadin's past. All are such wonderful scenes. Especially the flea circus master scene.
The rocking boat scene is incredible. The sexual energy of voluptuous, erect-nippled Patricia Medina, stumbling around the room, giggling and taunting Arkadin as the rocking boat mirrors the shakiness of her drunken state.
There is a magestic tracking shot in the party scene, which takes place in a sort of ballroom resembling the Ambersons' ballroom, where i believe Welles almost made up for the studio's cutting up a similar sweeping unbroken tracking shot through the room in the ballroom scene in Magnificent Ambersons.
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