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on 9 January 2012
Let's be clear: the many negative reviews of 'Mr. Arkadin' on this site refer to the shoddy editions that populated the marketplace prior to Criterion's definitive and gorgeous 2005 3-disc release. The film's chaotic production history was matched by an equally chaotic release history in which it circulated in as many as seven different versions under the various titles 'Mr. Arkadin' and 'Confidential Report'. Its copyright status was equally chaotic, leading to its definition as a public domain artefact and allowing opportunistic video and DVD releases by companies who cared nothing for the quality of the print or the integrity of the version they peddled.

Thankfully, with this splendid package, Criterion have made all other versions redundant and have revealed the full beauty, complexity, originality, wild humour and waywardness of Welles's conception. Shot on the run across Europe in 1954, financed on a shoestring budget, and edited in acrimonious circumstances with the producer throwing Welles out of the cutting room with less than a third of the work done, the film tells the tale of Van Stratten, a shady American smuggler, hired by Arkadin, a shady international finance capitalist, to investigate his past which, he claims, he has lost to amnesia. The commission itself, and the motives of the two principals, soon turn out to be far more sinister than they intially appear, gradually revealing a complex web of murder, espionage, white slavery and organised crime which resolves into a power struggle over ownership of the past and possession of the tycoon's beautiful and innocent daughter.

Criterion offer three versions of the film - the 1955 European release, the 1962 American release and a new version several minutes longer than any seen before and reconstructed according to Welles's plan to tell the story in complex flashback structure. In all versions the picture restoration is beautiful, allowing us to relish the bravura camerawork, captivating modernist editing and startling scene construction. And the longer version includes all the wonderful set-piece scenes that make the film so cherishable and outlandish: Arkadin menacing Van Stratten's girlfriend below-decks on his yacht as the room pitches wildly about; Van Stratten interrogating the Professor, an old associate of Arkadin's, as he runs his performing fleas through their paces; and a hilarious Michael Redgrave in a ratty old hairnet as an international fence, trying to sell Van Stratten a defective 'telioscope' which constantly increases in price.

In terms of plot, the film is a serio-comic hybrid of 'Citizen Kane' and 'The Lady from Shanghai', blending the quest for the shadowy history of the powerful capitalist with a noir crime story in which a hapless drifter is drawn into a web of intrigue with a twisted sexual motive at its centre. 'Mr. Arkadin' perhaps doesn't attain the greatness of those two predecessors, but in the Criterion version it stands as testament that Welles's original genius remained intact throughout his years of European exile, before he returned for his Hollywood swan song with the great 'Touch of Evil'.

Five stars for the brilliant Criterion package and the invaluable service it performs for film lovers and Wellesophiles; four and a half stars for the film itself - a typical Welles effort: bold, original and bewildering in equal measure.
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NB: As is Amazon's wont, they've very unhelpfully bundled all the reviews for various editions and formats together. This review refers to Criterion's three-disc US DVD release.

Mr Arkadin, aka Confidential Report - or, to give it its rather wonderful German title, Mr Satan in Person - is certainly one of the most problematic of Awesome's films, with a lot of money obviously spent on screen in all the location-hopping, but far too little in post-production (the lip-synching is truly atrocious throughout thanks to constant script changes). It also boasts every conceivable manner of (often wildly incompatible) performance from its interesting cast - Robert Arden gives possibly the loudest performance in a leading role until Al Pacino started making movies, Welles towers and glowers behind one of cinema's worst wig, beard and putty nose ensembles, Patricia Medina is almost endearing in her total lack of ability, Michael Redgrave hams it up outrageously while the likes of Katina Paxinou and Suzanne Flon tone it down and Akim Tamiroff steals every scene going. The first third is awkward in each of the three versions on Criterion's excellent DVD, but it gradually exerts a grip, filled throughout with Welles' trademarks, from the almost omnipresent ceilings in shots to the director conspicuously dubbing bit players (everyone from Gregoire Aslan's dying blackmailer to Mischa Auer's flea circus impresario).

Most of the changes in the `comprehensive version' make sense, even if after seeing the other two versions it is jarring to see the visit to Sophie come after Arkadin's appearance in Mexico (which does explain why Van Stratten didn't tell him that Sophie didn't care). However, the opening doesn't flow quite as well once Arden's introductory screen credit that flows right into his arrival at Zouk's garret is put at the end of the picture. The film never quite lives up to its premise, but as ever with Welles, it's an engaging mess.

There are plenty of poor quality public domain releases of this title on the market, but Criterion's three disc US NTSC set is the one to go for. With an excellent and intelligent selection of extras (including what may well be Harry Alan Towers only appearance on a Criterion DVD!), this comes highly
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on 23 May 2001
Although not regarded as one of his finer films, this has much to delight the Welles aficionado.Peopled with bizarre characters over a shifting array of countries and landscapes, this is essentially a deconstruction of Citizen Kane. Welles plays Gregory Arkadin, an all powerful tycoon who pays to have his past unearthed in order to elimate those who remember his origins. This is easy to read as autobiographical - Welles wishing to wipe out the memory of Kane so that he may step out of the shadow of his past. Seen as such, this is a highly intriguing film. Although shot on a restrictive budget and cut against his wishes, Confidential Report is filled with dense, literate set pieces and remains a must see for those enamoured of the great man.
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on 27 May 2008
This is an excellent film and an excellent Dvd. You get three versions of the film on three discs, and some really good extras.

It comes in a fat digipak fold-out style case that fits into an outer slipcase. It's accopanied by a book about the film that also fits into the slipcase.

The extras are impressive. You get;
All three versions of the film: Corinth version, Confidential Report, and the new comprehensive version, are newly restored.
There is a commentary.
An interview with Welles biographer.
Three half-hour episodes of THE LIVES OF HARRY LIME.
A documentary.
Outtakes, rushes and alternate scenes from the film.

This is an excellent Dvd for Orson Welles fans. Highly recommended.
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on 23 May 2001
Although not regarded as one of his finer films, this has much to delight the Welles aficionado.Peopled with bizarre characters over a shifting array of countries and landscapes, this is essentially a deconstruction of Citizen Kane. Welles plays Gregory Arkadin, an all powerful tycoon who pays to have his past unearthed in order to elimate those who remember his origins. This is easy to read as autobiographical - Welles wishing to wipe out the memory of Kane so that he may step out of the shadow of his past. Seen as such, this is a highly intriguing film. Although shot on a restrictive budget and cut against his wishes, Confidential Report is filled with dense, literate set pieces and remains a must see for those enamoured of the great man.
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on 12 January 2007
This is truly THE worst quality DVD you will ever be unfortunate to come across.

The picture and sound are as a bad as the ancient, unrestored, VHS copy the print of the film is clearly taken from. Throughout the film the logo of the manufacturer (Delta Music PLC) consistently appears on screen, the only reason i can think why would be to inform the viewer where they should attempt to claim their refund from.

If you want to see this film (which is ok but feels somehwhat incomplete) get the region 1 Criterion release, also available on here. It may cost more, but unlike this it won't be a complete waste of your money.
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on 13 August 2015
A Flawed Classic which is typical of Most of Welles output,but given the Great Mans tight Budgets He always produces something Interesting.I have to say though that the only Two things that truly let this Tale down are 1) The lead actor who is just miscast and Terrible and 2)Welles False Berad which is a better Actor than the Lead guy I was just talking about.
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on 16 June 2016
It's Welles at his most bonkers but always watchable despite the wonky plot which he is not bothered about. Great bits of filming/photography despite the poor print and the poverty row finances. Amusing moments and a sad echo of CK but still more interesting than many films of the period. All about the failure of great men and their so-called success.
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on 20 December 2010
A film typical of 1955, the very heart of the Cold War. Orson Welles though manages to write a book and then make a film that exposes one of these rich men after WW2 who made a fortune during and after the war, and yet he succeeds in hardly mentioning the defeated side of that war who were the main customers and who knows what too of these men who came rich out of the war. We jump from Italy, to Spain, from Germany to England, from France to Poland and we only know that fishy people were used to accumulate that fortune and were eliminated for the police not to trace them to the order giver. After the war that Mr. Arkadin hires some kind of international private eye adventurer to find out what is being said about him in Europe. His real intention is to trace those who could be embarrassing if they started talking and then he eliminates them one after the other. The private eye has only one objective: to capture the love of the daughter of this rich man. Not simple, indeed. And the end is just fishy and unimaginable. The rotten rich man disappears in thin air over the communication system of an airport air control tower: he is speaking one second and he is gone the next and the plane he was coming in crashes and no body is in it. The private eye can go away with the rich daughter but does it mean it is finished. Of course not. These war time entrepreneurs are extremely good at disappearing to reappear later on with a good amount of money they had manage to store away in some Swiss safe heaven. The film is more disturbing than really thrilling and Orson Welles probably wanted it like that, mysterious, embarrassing and disquieting, but what's the next stop in the plot, sir?

Dr Jacques COULARDEAU, University Paris 1 Pantheon Sorbonne, University Paris 8 Saint Denis, University Paris 12 Créteil, CEGID
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on 25 August 2004
Orson Welles is my favorite filmaker. In order to be fair, I watched this dvd several times. I really wanted to like this film. It is probably the only Welles film I had difficulty watching. There are just too many problems beginning with a weak script. Welles also appears to have dubbed in the dialogue after filming. This was a big mistake since the sound seems so unrealistic throughout. (I would rather read subtitles than endure the poor, later-recorded soundtrack). Then there is Welles--usually the strength of every film--but this time his performance is strangely uninspired and his theatrical makeup is ludicrous. Since Welles is such a genius, the questions is: how could he have made THIS film?
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