Over the decades, Orson Welles' Mr. Arkadinlay around in bits and pieces, like the statue of Ozymandias or something. And then last year Criterion presented a selection of three versions, to try to approximate the film Welles had in mind, before the director was kicked out of the editing room by his producer Louis Dolivet. The film, retitled Confidential Report ("it sounds like the title of a bad spy novel." Welles complained) was released in the early 1950s. It had its partisans, even if it was nothing like what Welles had envisioned. Part of the blame for the mangling is on Welles' temperamental qualities. When Welles was at his worst, the movie's star Robert Arden characterized him as "a goddamn maniac."

In its long version, this newer Arkadin is a compromise between three competing lengths of recut film, Mr. Arkadin ranges from passages of inept charm to sequences--such as a highly macabre Goya theme party--that was as good as anything he ever did. And yet Mr. Arkadin never seems like out of control filmmaking, let alone proof that Welles 'never really worked again after Citizen Kane,' that ghost story used to keep young filmmakers complacent and terrified of their producers. An extra on the Criterion DVD The Complete Mr. Arkadin is scenes of Welles directing his stars Paola Mori and Robert Arden, and in these snippets we hear the off-screen voice of a director who knew exactly what he wanted, even if he had to be a little peremptory to get it.
categories Cinematical