by Allan Fish
(France/Spain 1955 105m) DVD1/2
Aka. Mr Arkadin
Paying twice for the same thing
p Louis Dolivet, Orson Welles d/w Orson Welles novel “Mr Arkadin” by Orson Welles ph Jean Bourgoin ed Renzo Lucidi m Paul Misraki art Orson Welles
Robert Arden (Guy van Stratten), Paolo Mori (Raina Arkadin), Orson Welles (Gregory Arkadin), Michael Redgrave (Burgomil Trebitsch), Akim Tamiroff (Jakob Zouk), Katina Paxinou (Sophie), Mischa Auer (the professor), Patricia Medina (Mily), Jack Watling (Marquis of Rutleigh), Peter Van Eyck (Thaddeus), Grégoire Aslan (Bracco), Suzanne Flon (Baroness Nagel), Tamara Shayne (woman in apartment), Frederic O’Brady (Oscar),
One could write a doctorate thesis about the incomplete world of Orson Welles. It’s easy to imagine all of his films as incomplete. Kane could easily be longer, with additional titbits and stories surrounding his myriad of objects awaiting the incinerator in that final shot. The bastardisation of Ambersons is almost as mythic as the film itself. His three Shakespeare films could all be seen as fragmentary in some form or another, even if at least one now survives as a masterpiece. The Lady from Shanghai feels like part of a hazily recalled drunken nightmare. The Trial likewise feels somehow abridged, as if cutting from one room in Kafka’s descent into hell and into another while missing others out. The Immortal Story is such a flimsy anecdote it could be part of a portmanteau film that doesn’t survive. Despite heroic efforts no-one can be entirely sure which version of Touch of Evil would be Welles’ own personal choice. Not to mention the abandoned Don Quixote and It’s All True or the legal minefield of surviving footage that is The Other Side of the Wind.
Or maybe they’re all cover stories perpetuated by a criminal mastermind, a Mr Wu figure, a Hagi or Mabuse if your tendencies are towards Fritz Lang, a mythic magnate so paranoid as to make Charles Foster Kane seem avuncular. Some might call him James Moriarty, others Keyser Soze. Here it’s Gregory Arkadin, the name you barely speak and live. Arkadin is a figure shrouded in mystery, and Guy van Stratten, a small-time criminal long in Italy, is told about him by two men, firstly a dying old man and then another at a Naples dockside who also dies. He is intrigued and goes to look into this Arkadin, and on the way becomes enamoured of his daughter, before being hired by the same Arkadin to look into his own past, telling him that he’s suffered from amnesia and can’t remember anything before 1927. The more van Stratten digs into Arkadin’s past the more he becomes aware that he’s being used as a pawn to draw a line under Arkadin’s shady past, the scapegoat to end all scapegoats. (more…)