Mr. Arkadin

"OK"

Mr. Arkadin Review


Orson Welles' Mr. Arkadin is one of those films that is much more interesting in how it got made than in the final product. Just about every aspect of it is shrouded in mystery and confusion, starting with the original plot, which (arguably) began with a radio play called "The Lives of Harry Lime," which Welles adapted into a novel, was translated a couple of times, and eventually became a script. for a film. The film was painstakingly produced in a typical trouble-filled Welles affair, full of lawsuits and ownership issues that resulted in at least seven versions of the film being produced for various markets, in various languages, and by various producers. Even the title is changed from time to time.

Criterion has unearthed this saga for an exhaustive DVD box set, which features two versions of the film (including one called Confidential Report), plus its own cut of the movie, which combines elements of all the seven versions into a "comprehensive" version of the film. Welles' novel is included in whole, too, along with umpteen essays about the curious backstory of Arkadin and its long road to DVD.

Altogether the set is completely baffling. Because I can't imagine anyone wanting to sit through Mr. Arkadin more than once, and even that experience will probably be a less than ideal one. The titular Mr. Arkadin is a magnate (played by Welles himself) who claims to have amnesia about his early life. He inexplicably commissions an adventurer (Robert Arden, in an infamously bad performance) to find out where that part of his life went, and soon he's jetting around the world in search of clues to Arkadin's early days. Pretty soon, everyone he talks to is getting killed, and our hero begins to fear for his own life, too.

What we've got here is a sort of high-stakes remake of Citizen Kane, only Welles fails to realize that political intrigue and the threat of death isn't what made Kane great: It's how the character of Kane is developed and enriched, even during the scenes when Kane isn't on screen. Arkadin doesn't have nearly the amount of screen time that Kane did, but the film suffers not from Welles' absence but rather from any reason for us to care about Arkadin. Is he, like Kane, a misunderstood tycoon? Or is he a murderer that's hiding something? The parlor tricks Welles employs to tell this story, combined with an intentionally obtuse script and some awful acting, ensure that we simply don't care either way.

Welles aficionados -- and I count myself as a minor one -- will probably want to check out Arkadin, which has been difficult to find until now, but if any of you makes it through all three DVDs (each loaded with extras) you're probably in the minority.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Gregory Arkadin, as Burgomil Trebitsch, Patricia Medina as Mily, as Jakob Zouk, as The Professor, Paula Mori as Raina Arkadin, as Thaddeus, Grégoire Aslan as Bracco

Also starring:

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Trumbo Movie Review

Trumbo Movie Review

An entertaining film about sobering true events, this is the story of notorious screenwriter Dalton...

Goosebumps Movie Review

Goosebumps Movie Review

Mixing the action, comedy and horror from novelist R.L. Stein's books into a family-friendly package,...

Dad's Army Movie Review

Dad's Army Movie Review

The beloved 1970s British sit-com gets the big screen treatment, although there's been very little...

Spotlight Movie Review

Spotlight Movie Review

This film demonstrates that you don't need guns to make an exciting thriller. Based on...

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi Movie Review

Not the subtlest director working in Hollywood, Michael Bay brings his surging machismo to this...

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

Dirty Grandpa Movie Review

There's nothing clever about this deliberately rude and vulgar comedy, but certain audiences will find...

The Big Short Movie Review

The Big Short Movie Review

Smart and snappy, this comedy is one of the scariest films of the year, using...

Advertisement
The 5th Wave Movie Review

The 5th Wave Movie Review

Also based on the first in a trilogy of post-apocalyptic teen novels, this thriller feels...

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ride Along 2 Movie Review

Ice Cube and Kevin Hart reteam for a sequel no one really asked for, following...

Room Movie Review

Room Movie Review

One of the most extraordinary films of the year, this drama cleverly weaves in events...

Creed Movie Review

Creed Movie Review

While this film is basically Rocky VII, it's also much more than that, and perhaps...

A Perfect Day Movie Review

A Perfect Day Movie Review

An irreverent comedy in the style of the original M.A.S.H., this wartime romp takes an...

Partisan Movie Review

Partisan Movie Review

With his feature debut, young Australian filmmaker Ariel Kleiman tells a creepy story about a...

The Revenant Movie Review

The Revenant Movie Review

A wrenching saga of survival and revenge, Alejandro G. Inarritu's new epic is just as...

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

The Hateful Eight Movie Review

Quentin Tarantino is a filmmaker who simply can't be ignored, especially when he lobs a...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.