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aka - Mr Arkardin
France/Spain/United Kingdom 1955
Directed by
Orson Welles
95 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
1.5 stars

Confidential Report

Apparently the Cahiers Du Cinéma critics claimed that Confidential Report, or Mr. Arkadin as it is also known, was Orson Welles’ best film. This is intellectual pretension at its most flagrant – a desperate look-at-me claim to an aesthetic high ground in which  only like-minded poseurs would be interested..

Rather ith its awful casting (Robert Arden is particularly ineffective in the lead), abominable dubbing, stop-start editing and the writer-director overplaying his Citizen Kane mojo, both visually and verbally, for all its brqavura moments, and there are plenty of them, the film is virtually unwatchable. Indeed Welles himself rarely mentioned it when talking about his work. Not that it’s all his fault. Typically enough for the director it was made under trying conditions with the production changing shape according to circumstances as funding came and went, the production moving across Europe accordingly although largely settling in Spain.

Arden plays Guy, an American blackmarketer who is hired by Gregory Arkadin, the world's wealthiest man with a beautiful daughter, Raina (Paola Mori, Welles’s squeeze at the time), to investigate his past of which allegedly he has no recollection, claiming that amnesia has erased his memory. Guy agrees but, of course, it turns out that he is only a pawn in Arkadin’s evil game. 

The film is characteristic of Welles’ preoccupation with the corrupting influence of power and money on an individual as the director revisiting the themes of Citizen Kane once again plays a fabulous wealthy tyrant, this time inexplicably made up like a cross between a 19th century Slavic burgher and King Neptune.  One can see the germ of what Welles was trying to achieve but the film is far from a satisfactory realization of it.

Although there are various versions with Confidential Report being generally regarded as the closest to the director's vision, none really can be counted as definitive and all are probably only of interest to Welles’ completists.

DVD Extras: Audio Commentary by Dr Brian McFarlane of Monash University; an insert essay by Welles specialist Jonathan Rosenbaum that examines the context of the film’s making; and the Oscar-nominated short film, Orson Welles’ Ghost Story (Return To Glenascaul)

Available from: Madman




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