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?Mr. Arkadin? = gobble, gobble, gobble


FredCDobbs
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Perhaps one can make heads or tails with this glowing review of "Mr. Arkadin" from a fan in England (IMDb):

 

The endless comparisons between this film and Kane made in these reviews goes to show how little people see beyond the obvious "power corrupts" theme that runs through pretty much ALL Welles' films (even Magnificent Ambersons portends the changes the automobile will have on the world). Besides this theme, Kane was a drama about a man robbed of his mother and his childhood who spends his life trying to recapture both, by playing at newspaper tycoon and building his own pleasure palace and by trying to fill the void where motherly affection should have been with the affection of everyone in the world.

 

Mr Arkadin is a thriller about a man so afraid of losing his daughter's love and esteem he is willing to kill to maintain it. The story is pure genius: after an opening shot showing an empty aeroplane in mid-air, we flash back to a man found stabbed in the back. Hence Welles sets up two mysteries at once for us to think about. When the knifed man tells Arden's girlfriend two names that are worth a fortune, Van Stratten thinks to blackmail Mr Arkadin with this scant information. Arkadin calls his bluff, and instead confides in Van Stratten that back in 1927 he found himself in Prague wearing a suit with a lot of money in his pocket and no recollection of who he was or how he got there - total amnesia. He hires Van Stratten to find out who Mr Arkadin really is, and thus Van Stratten embarks on a voyage around Europe, trying to trace Arkadin's life back from 1927.

 

At each destination in Europe, Van Stratten finds Arkadin there too, so we learn that Arkadin has more on the mind than tracing his origins. And when the people Van Stratten interviews start dying, the suspense is shifted up another gear.

 

Were it not for the lame performance by Arden and the odd moment of awful dubbing, this flawed masterpiece may well have been held in as high esteem as Kane, Ambersons, Touch Of Evil and The Lady From Shanghai, rather than being relegated to Macbeth's 'interesting failure' status. Storytelling wise, this is Welles' at his best, and it's surreal, disturbing plot is more a meeting of The Lady From Shaghai and The Trial than Citizen Kane. Personally, I think this is a greater picture than Touch Of Evil's plain power-corrupts line and The Lady From Shaghai which depends on one high-concept set-piece after another.

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?Mr. Arkadin? needs a fully narrated track like ?Apocalypse Now? has, to help us follow what is actually going on. It starts with a narration track, which talks about the pilotless airplane, but then that track ends abruptly and we are thrown into a morass of mysterious blather, and we are expected to watch the film dozens of times, while taking notes, in an attempt to try to figure it out.

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I always thought this picture was pretty good, and with a stronger, more cohesive narrative flow (and possibly, as you say, Fred, a relevant narration track for the entire film), it could have been a contender. For me, the plot, even with its similarities to KANE, is more compelling than that film because of the elements of mystery and danger surrounding the discovery of Arkadin's past.

 

If this film had had more of KANE's style, I believe it could have been a masterpiece of even greater stature than KANE.

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You might be completely right.

 

What I'm confronted with at the start of the film are several mysteries:

 

The pilotless plane

 

The body on the beach

 

Some guy shot in a dock or warehouse area

 

Two or three characters talking to each other as if they know each other, but I have no idea who they are

 

Then gradually other talking characters are introduced into the film, but without anyone saying who they are or what they have to do with the film

 

This is just too much trouble for me to wade through, when I can watch a great film like "The Third Man" and know what's going on every step of the way.

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Yes, the film does ask a lot of the viewer right from the start, and I can sympathize with your feelings about it. In that sense, it's kind of like RESERVOIR DOGS, where you also have to be willing to put more into viewing it (at least at first) than with the average movie.

 

Maybe Welles regretted that he had little to do with the creative aspects of THE THIRD MAN and this was an effort to create a similar type of film. I don't know this, it's only a guess.

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Ok, here?s what we can do.... we all can take a university class titled ?Improving Mr. Arcadin?. We are each given a tape of the film and some editing equipment, and we are instructed to clean up the film and make it interesting and comprehensible.

 

For my part of the project, I think I?ll add a narration track. I?m Mr. Newsman, or Mr. Police Investigator, going over this case at the end of it, and I tell the story. Whenever there is a pause in the sound track, I?ll add some narration that helps keep the viewers caught up to date on what is going on. There is no need for me to over-narrate. Just enough to keep the audience aware of what?s happening and who the various characters are.

 

Much like the way Welles himself narrated various parts of ?The Lady from Shanghai?. That narration helped us a lot. The parts of the story he didn?t narrate, he had the characters say what was going on all throughout the film. Even with the film?s various plot flaws and unrealistic murder schemes, it?s still a great movie because of all the very interesting characters.

 

Much like the way William Holden narrated parts of ?Sunset Boulevard?. His narration was a beautiful part of the film. It not only told us what was going on, it told us what he was thinking about all along the way.

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> {quote:title=FredCDobbs wrote:}{quote}

> Ok, heres what we can do.... we all can take a university class titled Improving Mr. Arcadin. We are each given a tape of the film and some editing equipment, and we are instructed to clean up the film and make it interesting and comprehensible.

>

> For my part of the project, I think Ill add a narration track. I>

 

> Much like the way Welles himself narrated various parts of The Lady from Shanghai. That narration helped us a lot.

 

> Much like the way William Holden narrated parts of Sunset Boulevard. His narration was a beautiful part of the film. It not only told us what was going on, it told us what he was thinking about all along the way.

 

Spot on, Fred! Spot on!

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i watched Mr. Arkadin yesterday when it was on, and it was to say the least quite interesting. i thought i wouldnt like it, b/c im not an avid fan of orson welles, but i didnt mind this one.

 

paola mori was quite pretty here and i thought she looked a little like Gina Lollobrigida. maybe i was seeing things, but when i first saw herin the movie i could have sworn it was her. i thought welles gave a great performance as well as akim tamiroff.

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