See This: Confidential Report

Orson Welles in Confidential Report aka Mr Arkadin
Orson Welles in Confidential Report aka Mr Arkadin

 

 

The prevailing wisdom on Orson Welles has changed in recent years. It used to be: “Poor Orson, his masterpieces (such as The Magnificent Ambersons, It’s All True, The Lady from Shanghai ) butchered by the studios”. Now it’s: “Lazy Orson, got most of the way through a film and then lost interest”. Certainly Welles subscribed to the former view, and broadcast it widely wherever he went in Europe during his exile (or extended flake-out, take your pick). Confidential Report fuels the debate. A shadow of both his masterpiece, Citizen Kane, and Carol Reed’s The Third Man (in which he played the similarly gnomic Harry Lime), the film jumps around the world excavating the past of a mysterious megalomaniac and is either a masterpiece re-edited to destruction by the studios, or a series of brilliantly melodramatic vignettes which Orson couldn’t quite be bothered melding into a whole. Whichever it is, and seven different versions have done the rounds over the years, the version I watched recently certainly seemed to have been edited by a man with a grudge. Maybe this was the same version that Cahiers du Cinema saw in 1958 and declared a masterpiece, in spite of the fact that all of Welles’s flashbacks and other chronological trickery had been ironed out. Whichever version you are offered there’s good stuff in it – all that deep-focus photography and Expressionistic Euro-angst – and the always engaging, lovably preposterous figure of Welles himself, who plays the mysterious Mr Arkadin, by which name this mad, gothic/baroque fruitcake of a film is also known. See, you can’t get a straight answer even on the title.

© Steve Morrissey 2002

 

 

Confidential Report/Mr Arkadin – at Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

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  • Confidential Report (1955) Crime, Drama, Film-Noir | 1h 33min | 2 October 1962 (USA) 7.3
    Director: Orson WellesWriters: Orson WellesStars: Orson Welles, Peter van Eyck, Michael RedgraveSummary: From the lips of a dying man at a dimly-lit Italian dock, Guy Van Stratten, the disreputable American fortune hunter, receives invaluable information about the powerful financial titan, Gregory Arkadin. In high hopes that something good might come out of it, Guy finally approaches the cryptic multi-million tycoon, intent on exploiting him; instead, the ambitious opportunist finds himself mysteriously hired by Mr Arkadin, to reconstruct the history of his murky past before 1927. However, as the methodical detective scours the globe to put together the dangerously knotty puzzle, people end up dead, gradually closing in on Van Stratten, who now begins to shed light on this murderously difficult assignment. Are those cases linked together? In the end, has the reclusive magnate something to hide? Written by Nick Riganas

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