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Mr Satan in Person,
This review is from: Criterion Collection: Mr Arkadin - The Complete [DVD]  [Region 1] [US Import] [NTSC] (DVD)
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