Monday, May 14, 2007

Mr. Arkadin ("Confidential Report" version) (1955)

In a line that is almost monotonous at this point, here is yet ANOTHER Orson Welles film that the backstory on its making is far more interesting than the finished product.

After many of his American films were taken from him and re-edited, he intermittently shot Mr. Arkadin in various countries and released it internationally. And guess what? The film was not only butchered, but butchered far more than any other film in his oeuvre, including at least SEVEN separate versions in various countries, one of which I saw: The American version, entitled Confidential Report.

A kind of Eurotrash counterclockwise comic book Citizen Kane, with the same basic "search for meaning" plot, except with a completely different intent, and the search in this film proves just as meaningless as that. The film is so thoroughly over-the-top it's almost a spoof of Citizen Kane, with a little Third Man thrown in. Welles sports a bizarrely artificial beard and a bizarrely big grandiose performance while simultaneously simply standing around, and there's enough Dutch angles for a thousand Batman villains.

Welles still exudes charisma despite his off-the-wall performance, and his pitch-perfect of a few key lines get knocked out of the park. Sad to say, I can't say the same for the main protagonist, Robert Arden, who is belligerent, grating and obvious in his performance, and one wonders what Welles saw in him. The females are mostly unremarkable and even bleed together in many instances.

I think, even in his "perfect" incarnation, the film would have been inherently flawed as Welles revisits past triumphs rather than pushing forward, and the film is mediocre in an unusually plenteous year, #1 6th in my 18 of 1955...

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