Sunday, 12 April 2015

Mr. Arkadin

I've just completed (well, almost completed), Criterion's fabulous Mr. Arkadin box, having now watched all three cuts of Welles' brilliant 1955 film(s)... I had pondered on which order to watch the three films in and finally took the pedantic decision to watch them as placed within the Criterion set - Confidential Report first, followed by Mr. Arkadin (Corinth version) and the so-called Comprehensive Version. Of the three cuts, I think the Comprehensive Version is the best - the revisions are sensitive and well-considered, and the re-sequencing of certain scenes is handled with dutiful deference to Welles' own plan for the film. The Comprehensive Version also rescues a few exclusive snippets here and there from Confidential Report - I say "rescue" like Confidential Report was an unforgivable corruption of Welles' vision - far from it, I think producer Louis Dolivet's dispensing of the flashback structure lends the film a bold narrative thrust which makes few concessions to the audience's comprehension of the film. By the way, I fell head over heels in love with Patricia Medina in the film, her drunken scene with Welles on board a perilously swaying yacht is one of my favourite things in the picture. I very much liked Robert Arden as well, and have scribbled a mental note to look out for him in what I suspect are bit parts in Chaplin's A King In New York, and Omen III. All that's left now is to finish off the set by reading Maurice Bessy's novelization, and Video Watchdog's own forensic investigation of the film and its variants (which I might add appeared in issue 10 from 1992, predating the Criterion set by 14 years).

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