Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The mysterious Mr. Arkadin

Big news for Orson Welles buffs like me: next month, Criterion is releasing The Complete Mr. Arkadin (aka Confidential Report) on DVD.

I first saw Mr. Arkadin, an obscure French-Spanish production that Welles wrote, starred in, and directed, in a college film class almost 30 years ago. The print was horrible. The editing and/or breaks in the crusty film were jarring. Its story was non-linear and nonsensical. But those things made Mr. Arkadin all the more intriguing after I learned about the movie’s history. I was told that it was based on a script Welles wrote for The Lives of Harry Lime, his BBC radio series of the early 1950s. He filmed the movie in 1954, but the producer seized control after the inevitable fight with Welles. It was released in Europe in 1955 under the title Confidential Report. Seven years later, it opened in the U.S. as Mr. Arkadin, but no one paid attention and it disappeared. During his lifetime, Welles disowned every version of the movie he saw.

I’ve seen Mr. Arkadin twice since college, once on videotape and recently on Turner Classics. Both prints were dreadful. Each version seemed slightly different. My interest increased. And now, Criterion is issuing as definitive a DVD package as we can ever expect. The Complete Mr. Arkadin includes three discs: the 1955 European release; the 1962 American release; a third, slightly longer, 2006 “comprehensive version” edited by Stefan Droessler of the Munich Film Archives; audio commentary by a couple of film scholars; interviews with one of the movie’s stars, Welles’ biographer, Droessler, and others; three (!) half-hour episodes of the Harry Lime radio program that were the basis of the film’s story; outtakes; rushes; alternate scenes; a booklet of critical essays; and a copy of the Mr. Arkadin novel (!).

April 18. I’m marking my calendar.


Post a Comment

<< Home