Mr. Arkadin / Confidential Report (1955)

Mr. Arkadin / Confidential Report (1955)

“You’re a fool — but not a silly fool. And I’m not ungenerous.”

After warning a terminally ill German (Akim Tamiroff) that his life in danger by a Russian oligarch (Orson Welles), a petty American smuggler (Robert Arden) shares the story of how he and his girlfriend (Patricia Medina) first learned about Mr. Arkadin (Welles) and his daughter Raina (Paola Mori), and how Arden was hired by Mr. Arkadin to research his mysterious past.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Akim Tamiroff Films
  • Detectives and Private Eyes
  • Flashback Films
  • Michael Redgrave Films
  • Orson Welles Films

Response to Peary’s Review:
As Peary writes, “If Orson Welles hadn’t had Herman Mankiewicz’s help writing Citizen Kane, it might have come out something like this interesting but empty Kane variation.” He notes that “as in Kane, Welles plays a man of many faces/masks, a reclusive financier… with a shady past” who “wants to get fortune hunter Robert Arden away from his daughter.”

He adds that “just as William Alland [the reporter in Citizen Kane] put together pieces of Kane’s life, Arden learns what transpired in Arkadin’s life,” all while “Arkadin disposes of those people Arden speaks to who know how he made his fortune.” Peary points out that the “picture is bizarrely photographed and full of delightful cameos,” but he notes that “Arden’s a terrible actor”:

… “the low budget’s a problem, and we never really care about Arkadin’s past because Welles never establishes the person Arkadin is in the present.”

While this film has its supporters, I’m in agreement with Peary’s assessment — as well as DVD Savant’s description of the film as “an arresting whirlwind of original images, eccentric characters and convoluted storytelling”. This movie is indeed creative and convoluted — to a fault. As with so many of Welles’ ventures, its production history was riddled with challenges, and there is no one “definitive” cut of the film (instead, Criterion’s DVD release offers several versions for viewers to choose from); but this can’t take away from the central issue that the film is terribly dubbed, erratically edited, and not very cohesive.

Instead, we simply watch in morbid fascination to see what Welles will serve up next in terms of weird characters and bizarre sets. Among these are Mischa Auer as ringmaster of a flea circus:

… Michael Redgrave as a hairnet-wearing antiques dealer trying to sell Arden a broken telescope:

… Peter Van Eyck as an informant who gets to speak one of the best lines in the movie (“I never remember pretty women; it’s so expensive”):

… Suzanne Flon as the Baroness Nagel:

… and Gert Fröbe (“Goldfinger”) as a German policeman.

Note: The title character’s name is pronounced Ar-KAHR-din, with the emphasis on the second syllable, rather than ARK-a-din like one might imagine; it takes some getting used to.

Notable Performances, Qualities, and Moments:

  • Patricia Medina as Mily
  • Jean Bourgoin’s cinematography

  • Creative direction and sets

Must See?
No, though of course Welles fans will consider it essential.


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