- Gregory Arkadin (Orson Welles) relating the famous story of the scorpion and the frog
"I do not know who I am."
- Arkadin to Guy Van Stratten (Robert Arden)
"A fool is a man who pays twice...for the same thing."
- Arkadin to Baroness Nagel (Suzanne Flon)
"Perhaps a man like you can't realize what it is to have a conscience and no memory at all. You imagine it pleasant to be ashamed of something you can't even remember'"
- Arkadin to Van Stratten
New York Times - 04/18/2006
"MR. ARKADIN remains a strange, magpie movie, assembled from elements lifted from past films Welles had worked on or been near."
Premiere - 05/01/2006
"Orson Welles's globe-trotting 1955 thriller is one of his most peculiar, and hence representative creations..."
A dying man's final words send two people to Gregory Arkadin (Orson Welles), a mysterious and much-feared billionaire who lives on a Xanadu-like castle. In Welles's noirish MR. ARKADIN, Robert Arden stars as Guy Van Stratten, an adventurer and fortune hunter who is interested in Arkadin's money--and his daughter, Raina (Paolo Mori). Arkadin, overprotective of his daughter, has his "secretaries" prepare a damaging dossier on Van Stratten--entitled "Confidential Report." But Arkadin then makes a deal with Van Stratten--he will pay the young man for preparing a similar file on him, for Mr. Arkadin says he remembers nothing about his past and does not know where he came from. Even his name is a mystery. Van Stratten's search for the truth about Arkadin's past--which takes him throughout Europe and to Mexico and features encounters with a variety of fabulously colorful characters--is highly reminiscent of Thompson's search for Rosebud in CITIZEN KANE.
Shot in black and white, filled with elegant, cosmopolitan party scenes, and extraordinary close-ups, MR. ARKADIN is a visually stunning film. The camera angles and movement, the exotic sets, the playful music, and the quick cuts--as well as the extremely entertaining and metaphorical stories that Arkadin tells--all help make MR. ARKADIN a sublime treat.
Gregory Arkadin, a wealthy but merciless businessman, needs to search through his past. Now he has one goal: to trace the identities and whereabouts of those who know the truth about his life--before someone divulges these sordid secrets to his daughter.
MR. ARKADIN held its world premiere in Madrid in March 1955. A Spanish-language version (edited by Antonio Martinez, featuring some different actors) was shot at the same time as the English-language version. The English-language version opened in London on August 11, 1955, with the title CONFIDENTIAL REPORT. The film opened in France on June 2, 1956. The film wasn't released in the United States until October 12, 1962, at the New Yorker Theatre, in a reedited version closer to Welles's original intentions. The delay in the U.S. release was a result of a lawsuit between producer Louis Dolivet and Welles.
Shot on location in Munich and Paris and at a studio in Madrid.
The opening quote reads, "A certain great and powerful king once asked a poet 'What can I give you of all that I have'' He wisely replied 'Anything sir...except your secret'"--bringing to mind the secret ("Rosebud") that opens CITIZEN KANE, the title character of which is also referred to as being "great and powerful" in the beginning newsreel narration. A smokestack spewing out black smoke in the final shot is reminiscent of the final shot of CITIZEN KANE, which ends with a shot of black smoke coming out of a chimney. There are many other similarites between the two films, including featuring shots of the actors in the opening credits.
Orson Welles does the introductory narration. He also serves as the voice for the Munich airport announcer as well as for Auer, Bracco, O'Brady, and various other characters, whose voices he dubbed in.
MR. ARKADIN marked Paolo Mori's feature-film debut. Mori was the countess di Girfalco. Her English leaving something to be desired, her voice was dubbed in by Billie Whitelaw. Shortly after the film opened, Welles and Mori were married (on May 8, 1955).
Patricia Medina was married to Welles regular Joseph Cotten.
There is one shot of a yacht on the sea that is strikingly similar to a shot from THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI.
Akim Tamiroff supplies wonderful comic relief in this gripping drama.
Working titles of the film included X and MASQUERADE.
The idea for this movie came from "Greek Meets Greek," a radio show Welles wrote as part of THE ADVENTURES OF HARRY LIME, in which Frédéric O'Brady played Gregory Arkadian.
Although Welles began editing the film, the producer took it away from him (because Welles was taking too much time, and the picture had missed some important film festivals) and had Renzo Lucidi finish it, changing the structure of the film in the process. Welles said, "It's terrible what they did to me on that. The film was snatched from my hands more brutally than one has ever snatched a film from anyone."
There are various accounts about the genesis of the novel CONFIDENTIAL REPORT; some claim it was actually written in French by Maurice Bessy, based on Welles's script, and was serialized in order to supply financing for Welles, while others claim it was written by Welles and published in France in 1952 or 1955. Welles himself said, "I didn't write one word of that novel. Nor have I ever read it." But when told by friend Peter Bogdanovich how beautiful some of the writing was, he responded, "Maybe I did write it, at that."
Welles also told Bogdanovich in THIS IS ORSON WELLES, "MR. ARKADIN was just anguish from beginning to end....It was the best popular story I ever thought up for a movie, and it really should have been a roaring success. I'd love to make that story again."
Welles himself hand painted everything in Trebitsch's antiques shop; he did not trust the crew to get the right look. He later hand painted the crazy house seen at the end of THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI.
Frédéric O'Brady is billed in the opening credits as O'Brady.