European Film: Mr. Arkadin (1955)

Another directorial credit for Welles, Mr. Arkadin is a 1955 film spinning the yarn of Guy Van Stratten, an American smuggler who finds himself at the scene of a murder. He subsequently becomes tasked with researching the past (a la Kane and in a way that recalls The Third Man) of Arkadin, who claims not to remember anything before 1927.

Welles, as always, plays the hunted, not the hunter, starring in the title role. Robert Arden stars as Guy Van Stratten, Patricia Medina as Mily and Gregoire Aslan as Bracco. Welles co-produced with Louis Dolivet.

The production of Mr. Arkadin was about as haphazard as that of any Welles movie. Writes biographer Charles Higham
...the cohesive force that would have bound the picture together was
lacking; the shooting over eight months in all weathers with a scratch
crew, often using actual interiors, and the cast arriving on random
schedules from all over the map, proved to be the picture’s undoing.
One of the film’s leading men, Robert Arden, sums up Welles as “the most gifted fourteen-year-old I’ve ever known.” He continues, “he is perpetually fourteen. With the enthusiasm, energy, and confidence that only extreme youth seems to be able to produce in totality.”

Not many fourteen-year-olds produce box office smashes, and Mr. Arkadin wasn’t one. However, the New York Times gushed that it was “from start to finish, the work of a man with an unmistakable genius for the film medium.”


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