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
This movie was created from three episodes of the 1951-52 radio program "The Lives of Harry Lime": "Man of Mystery" (a.k.a. "Greek Meets Greek"), "Murder on the Riviera", and "Blackmail Is an Ugly Word". Arkadin was based mostly on the first of the three and centered on a character named Gregory Arkadian. Primary characters and set-ups were taken from the other two episodes. See more »
When the small plane is shown in long shots, it has a solid roof over the cockpit, but when Arkadin is shown on the radio calling the Barcelona tower in closeup, he is sitting in a plane with an open cockpit. See more »
You are simply a fool. I will not ask you your price, because you have nothing to sell. But, still, I'll make you an offer. I am going to give you something to sell. And, then, I will pay you for it. Come on. You have tried to threaten me with a secret that does not exist. Now, I will make you a present of a real one. The great secret of my life.
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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 »
The endless comparisons between this film and Kane made in these reviews goes to show how little people see beyond the obvious "power corrupts" theme that runs through pretty much ALL Welles' films (even Magnificent Ambersons portends the changes the automobile will have on the world). Besides this theme, Kane was a drama about a man robbed of his mother and his childhood who spends his life trying to recapture both, by playing at newspaper tycoon and building his own pleasure palace and by trying to fill the void where motherly affection should have been with the affection of everyone in the world.
Mr Arkadin is a thriller about a man so afraid of losing his daughter's love and esteem he is willing to kill to maintain it. The story is pure genius: after an opening shot showing an empty aeroplane in mid-air, we flash back to a man found stabbed in the back. Hence Welles sets up two mysteries at once for us to think about. When the knifed man tells Arden's girlfriend two names that are worth a fortune, Van Stratten thinks to blackmail Mr Arkadin with this scant information. Arkadin calls his bluff, and instead confides in Van Stratten that back in 1927 he found himself in Prague wearing a suit with a lot of money in his pocket and no recollection of who he was or how he got there - total amnesia. He hires Van Stratten to find out who Mr Arkadin really is, and thus Van Stratten embarks on a voyage around Europe, trying to trace Arkadin's life back from 1927.
At each destination in Europe, Van Stratten finds Arkadin there too, so we learn that Arkadin has more on the mind than tracing his origins. And when the people Van Stratten interviews start dying, the suspense is shifted up another gear.
Were it not for the lame performance by Arden and the odd moment of awful dubbing, this flawed masterpiece may well have been held in as high esteem as Kane, Ambersons, Touch Of Evil and The Lady From Shanghai, rather than being relegated to Macbeth's 'interesting failure' status. Storytelling wise, this is Welles' at his best, and it's surreal, disturbing plot is more a meeting of The Lady From Shaghai and The Trial than Citizen Kane. Personally, I think this is a greater picture than Touch Of Evil's plain power-corrupts line and The Lady From Shaghai which depends on one high-concept set-piece after another.
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