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||IMDB Rating: 7.4/10 from 5,229 votes
||Release: 2 June 1956 (France) /
||Genre: Crime, Drama, Film-Noir, Mystery, Thriller
||Director: Orson Welles,
||Stars: Akim Tamiroff, Frédéric O'Brady, Grégoire Aslan, Jack Watling, Katina Paxinou, Michael Redgrave, Mischa Auer, Orson Welles, Paola Mori, Patricia Medina, Peter van Eyck, Robert Arden, Suzanne Flon, Tamara Shayne, Terence Longdon
||Synopsis: Guy Van Stratten, American smuggler, leaves an Italian prison term with one asset, a dying man's words about wealthy, mysterious Gregory Arkadin. Guy finds it most pleasant to investigate Arkadin though his lovely daughter Raina, her father's idol. To get rid of Guy, Arkadin claims amnesia about his own life prior to 1927, sending Guy off to investigate Arkadin's unknown past. Guy's quest spans many countries and eccentric characters who contribute clues. But the real purpose of Guy's mission proves deadly; can Guy himself survive it? Written by Rod Crawford <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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Watch Mr. Arkadin - Alternative Versions.
I've always liked Orson Welle's "Mr Arkadin." At least I've been
compelled to watch it an awful lot of times, in any case. So I must
like it, right? Actually, I think a big part of the reason why the film
is so fascinating, to regular folk like me as well as to film
historians, is that it is so obviously incomplete and unfinished. This
is both the film's greatest weakness and its most intriguing strength.
The film "Mr Arkadin" is just as mysterious as the character it is
named after. This is yet another film Welles made that was taken from
him during the editing stages by the people putting up the money.
Until the recent release of the exhaustive Criterion "Complete Mr.
Arkadin" DVD set, all I had to go on were tapes and discs of various,
beat up public domain versions and a nice Janus tape of the
"Confidential Report" version that is widely known to be a re-edit of
Welles' "original" cut.
However, now, after having seen the famed "Corinth" version as well as
Criterion's "Comprehensive" version, I doubt that there ever really WAS
a Welles cut of this film. He was obviously a compulsive tinkerer who
liked to massage the story in the editing room. Therefore, we can't
really know what version is "closest to Welles' intentions," we can
only guess at which ones are closest to the intentions he had at the
moment the producer took the film from him. I have no doubt that if
he'd been given all the time to edit he wanted, the film would have
completely changed a dozen more times.
If you closely watch first half hour or so of the versions that are
supposedly "closer to Welles' vision," this is apparent. These are the
scenes between Arden's Van Stratten and Tamiroff's Zouk that set up the
flashback within a flashback format that Welles himself has been quoted
as saying was absolutely vital to his vision. But if you watch closely
during the scenes between Van Stratten and Zouk, it is obvious that
virtually none of Arden's lip movements come anywhere near matching
what he's saying on the soundtrack. And I'm not talking about the usual
Welles problem of the voices not exactly matching the lipsI'm talking
a complete disconnect. These scenes were originally filmed with much
different dialog. Interestingly if you watch Laserlight's release of
the American 'no flashbacks' version you can catch bits of this
original dialog (why wasn't that version included in Criterion's
I think that Welles came up with the flashback idea well after
principal photography was finished and then had Arden dub in different
lines to make the flashback format work. It looks to me like his
original plan was a linear story, like the novel, and then he had the
idea to make it a "Citizen Kane" type series of flashbacks after the
fact. So even Welles' "original vision" wasn't his "original vision."
But the film is still fascinating, and the new, "more complete"
Criterion versions do make more sense than the public domain versions
that have been floating around. There are more establishing shots,
better transitions, slightly fuller characterizations, and much better
sound. But the first twenty minutes is still a mess. The story lurches
and jumps, asking us to accept too many crazy things too quickly and
losing us for a while. There seems to be at least twenty minutes worth
of material missing. So far I haven't seen or read anything in the
Criterion set to suggest that more material from the early part of the
film exists, but I did read a fascinating blog article by a gentleman
who claims to have seen a working print preview of "Arkadin" in England
back in the 50s. As of this writing, it can be found here:
this article, the guy describes many scenes of exposition in the early
part of the story that do not exist in any available film version. For
instance: 1) In the prolog, we not only see Mily's dead body on the
beach (a rare shot restored in the Criterion version) but also a close
up of her face and eyes. And on the soundtrack we hear Van Stratten
eulogizing her. 2) There was a rather involved scene showing Zouk
actually being released from prison (in the released version, we are
just told that this happened in dialog).
If this account of what must have been one of the first public showings
of any version of "Arkadin" is true, that also says to me that Welles
was compulsively noodling around with the film, changing it,
rearranging it, cutting it to bits, well before his backers took it
away from him and edited it themselves. And if we believe that these
bits existed, there's no reason not to believe that other footage also
existed. But I don't think we can assume he was necessarily making it
better with each change, either.
I think that one of two things would have had to have happened for
there to have ever actually been a true "final cut": 1) Welles would
have had to accept collaborators to help him decide when to quit
editing (as he had during "Kane" with Mankiewicz and Houseman) or 2) he
would have had to have been given as much time as he wanted to edit. I
think option one would have been the better choicefrom the state of
any version of the film available, I think it is obvious that he would
have tinkered with it until he freaking died.
Making great art is not simply a matter of "doing it until it's right."
It is also a matter of knowing when to stop. Arkadin is a fascinating
study of an artist who didn't know when to--or didn't really want
to--stop. But I still love the mystery.
Tags for Mr. Arkadin Full Movie
, Frédéric O'Brady
, Grégoire Aslan
, Jack Watling
, Katina Paxinou
, Michael Redgrave
, Mischa Auer
, Orson Welles
, Paola Mori
, Patricia Medina
, Peter van Eyck
, Robert Arden
, Suzanne Flon
, Tamara Shayne
, Terence Longdon
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