Mr. Arkadin (1955)

Noir at its finest | 99 minutes

Movie Info


Mr. Arkadin remains Orson Welles’s one of the most imaginative and reverberating films of all times. It’s a French-Spanish coproduction, first released in 1955 and also has an alternative title” Confidential Report”. Mr Arkadin is based on a series of radio plays centring on Welles’ character from The Third Man. As such beholds the complicated story and in fact, many critics considered Mr Arkadin as a darker version of Citizen Kane. The movie released the time in the career of Orson Welles had undergone more highs and lows and the film’s history marked by Hollywood’s treacherousness.

Welles crafts his genius unravelling one of cinema’s great mysteries. His sharp visual captivating modes, shot in numerous Spanish locations, including Costa Brava, Segovia, Valladolid and Madrid and other locales are London, Munich, Paris, the French Riviera, and the Château de Chillon in Swiss. The film is a story of a mysterious billionaire who hires an American smuggler to investigate his past, leading to the times of cold-war European landscape.

The making of the movie was surrounded by production delays, legalities, money woes, ownership over editing. Actually there are many different versions floating around in the public domain and seeing this films many times surprises me and audience had their reasoning for doing so. Eventually, innumerable release versions were not officially accepted by Welles, together with an American edit designed to make the film more linear. The European-release version kept Welles’s flashback edition integral and is believed to be more closely resemble to his desire.

Mr. Arkadin visits the film-noire genre for all its rare brilliance and complex structure. One can simply see why Orson Welles was so admired by the new wave Euro filmmakers in the 60’s era and thoroughly considered as a spiritual forefather. His artistic touches swayed the French new wave critics at Cahiers du Cinema to vote this film amongst the twelve overriding and greatest films ever made. Supposedly, forgotten and long over-due, Welles did not share this view, calling the film his “biggest disappointment” in an interview with friend and film critic/historian Peter Bogdanovich in 1982, three years prior to Welles’ death.

The plot of the film unravels a small time American smuggler Guy Van Stratten working in Europe, is at the scene of the murder of a man named Bracco. The dying man whispers two names he asserts are very prized, one of which is Gregory Arkadin. By means of the bit of information, Van Stratten manages to meet the apparent multi-millionaire business magnate and socialite Arkadin. Nearing magical realism in its premise- Arkadin then hires Van Stratten to explore his own past, of which he claims to have no memory before 1927. This deal gives an opportunity for Van Stratten travel across the world, and he decodes the pieces of Arkadin’s past from the few remaining people who knew Arkadin as a gangster in post-World War I Europe. In each of these cases, the prospects declare to end up dead. Van Stratten in the end discovers the truth about Arkadin’s past, leading to a dazzling race to Spain between the two, with devastating consequences.

Arkadin has a trace of Citizen Kane and undoubtedly an influence, besides extending a lee way of how story could be cleverly translated into another context, largely looking an intrigue into a rich man’s past. In piercing contrast, the maverick of Welles repute gives us a vivid emotions every time we watch. Succeeding the kind of fortitude in the unusual trajectory is rare accomplishment and Welles enchant the outcome into a fitting response

The film has umpteen close-up shots, and distinct freedom what Welles choose for. The fascination of the impeccable acting is first rate. The visuals in complete black and white, the sweeping camera work through its intense depth. The boat scene lets you to the liberal tone and some of the perplexing cuts shoves you unsettled. All of these topography pictures illustrates Arkadin’s mysterious grandeur, which, like Kane’s, isn’t meant to be fully known, surpassing the surprises of so many fully realized single frame with exciting soundtrack, that was uncanny of 50s in its great sense of exhilaration- Van Stratten ‘s outing is a trip down the rabbit hole. The minute he begins to look into who Arkadin is, takes him literally to another world, full of covert and the feelings drown out his own inner voice, which is nothing but the Welles’s narration is unusually remarkable for all its strangeness

As much as Mr. Arkadin, I have to say this film is very much like Welles’s career- blazes of intelligence assorted in with some uninhibited excitement. The globe-trotting adventure, indeed astute! Yes, you have the party filled with their identities hidden behind grotesque masks and many layers that Chandler would have envied and a Felliniesque cast of characters. Any Welles admirer will gobble up like caviar and a treasure of disagreeable uncertainty with a vicious atmosphere. Twisting plot and noir at its finest

Film Crew

  • Produced & Directed by Orson Welles
  • Co-Produced by Louis Dolivet
  • Penned by Orson Welles- Based on original radio scripts by Ernest Bornemann & Orson Welles. from The Lives of Harry Lime. Originally produced by Harry Alan Towers
  • Cast: Orson Welles; Robert Arden; Paola Mori; Akim Tamiroff & Michael Redgrave
  • Music by Paul Misraki
  • Edited by Renzo Lucidi
  • Distributed by Filmorsa/Cervantes Films/Sevilla (Spain), Warner Bros. (USA)
  • Release dates: 20 October 1955 (Madrid)
  • Running time of 99 minutes (“Corinth” version); 93 minutes (Spanish version); 95 minutes (public domain version); 98 minutes (Confidential Report) & 106 minutes (2006 edit)
  • Country: France; Spain & Switzerland
  • Language: English & Spanish


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Mr. Arkadin (1955) Youtbe Review

Noir at its finest

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