Mr. Arkadin

  • 1955
  • Movie
  • NR
  • Mystery

A very strange motion picture shot in Spain, Germany, Italy, and France in 1954 and 1955, MR. ARKADIN (a.k.a. CONFIDENTIAL REPORT) remains one of Welles's most interesting failures. The director would later claim that its weaknesses were the fault of a ruthless distributor who insisted on reediting the film himself. Welles wrote the novel and the screenplay,...read more

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A very strange motion picture shot in Spain, Germany, Italy, and France in 1954 and 1955, MR. ARKADIN (a.k.a. CONFIDENTIAL REPORT) remains one of Welles's most interesting failures. The director would later claim that its weaknesses were the fault of a ruthless distributor who insisted on

reediting the film himself. Welles wrote the novel and the screenplay, starred, and directed--a feat not unlike his monumental CITIZEN KANE. The results here, unfortunately, are not as monumental. Welles enjoyed examining the lives of unique men: KANE, Harry Lime in THE THIRD MAN, Cagliostro in

BLACK MAGIC, Cesare Borgia in PRINCE OF FOXES, and MACBETH. In the instance of MR. ARKADIN, Welles presents a European financial jackal who will stop at nothing to achieve his goals. The movie is shot in the Welles style of dialog overlaps, off-angles, and constant attempts to keep the viewer's

eyes and ears out of balance. It gets off to a fast start with a gun battle along the docks at Naples. Aslan is dying, and his last words pertain to Arkadin (Welles) and his wife, Paxinou. Arden's girl friend, Medina, hears the words, and Arden, knowing that Welles is one of the richest men in

creation, thinks he might be able to cadge a few lire out of the industrialist. Arden goes to Spain where he turns up at an elaborate party and gets to Welles through the man's young daughter, Mori (whom Welles married the following year), but Welles is too sharp and spots Arden as a two-bit

fraud. There is something troubling Welles, though, for he claims he has no idea of his own past and is suffering from a form of amnesia. He engages Arden to investigate his own life and to report on what he finds. The only recall Welles has of his life is that he woke up one day with his pockets

filled with money while wandering on a European street. As Arden goes deeper into Welles's background and gathers information, he notes that every person he speaks with who can give him information is being systematically killed. Arden discovers that Welles made his first bundle as a white slaver

who used and abused women and sold them into bondage to anyone who could afford the tariff. It isn't long before Arden discovers that he is being manipulated by Welles so that the wealthy financier can find and erase anyone who might have dangerous information on him, thereby maintaining the high

esteem his daughter holds for him. Since he is now the only person who knows it all, Arden realizes that his life is hanging by a thread. In order to forestall his own death, Arden approaches Mori and tells her to get in touch with Welles, who is flying home in a single-engine plane. When Mori

radios him, Welles thinks that she knows his entire history and becomes so emotionally distraught that he leaps from the plane to his death, a totally unexpected turn of events.

Welles began planning this film in 1951, and it took four years to get financing. Welles tested the story by making it the plot of one of his radio shows a few years before shooting. The weakest link in the story is Arden, who is not convincing in his role as the investigator. Some of the cameo

appearances almost, but not quite, make up for Arden. Paxinou is Welles's estranged wife, Redgrave is a gay fence who claimed to be an antique dealer, Auer is the proprietor of a flea circus (and gets all the funny lines in the script), and Tamiroff is a tailor. It's a movie that could have been

terrific, but like so much of Welles's later work, it suffered from being too arch and too concerned with style and forgot that a story must be told. In CITIZEN KANE, despite all the man's excesses, we saw why he was the way he was and ultimately sympathized with him and understood his

motivations. Here, Arkadin is a rotter from the start; we couldn't care less about his life or death.

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  • Rating: NR
  • Review: A very strange motion picture shot in Spain, Germany, Italy, and France in 1954 and 1955, MR. ARKADIN (a.k.a. CONFIDENTIAL REPORT) remains one of Welles's most interesting failures. The director would later claim that its weaknesses were the fault of a rut… (more)

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