Mr. Arkadin is written, directed by and starring Orson Welles in an epic film noir. There are 3 versions of this film floating around and if you buy the Criterion Collection release of this, you will get all three. I caught this on Turner Classic Movies and watched the comprehensive version. From my understanding Welles lost control of this film when it was in editing. Nobody knows for sure what version he wanted released or if his version of the film ever really existed.
This film starts with our protagonist played by Robert Arden and his girlfriend played by Patricia Medina find a man about to die. He has a knife in his back and the last things he says is Mr. Arkadin and a female’s name they are not sure of. We also find Arden talking to a dying man about the whole story in flash back fashion. Our couple decide to investigate the incident themselves and infiltrate Arkadin’s inner circle including his daughter played by Paola Mori. Our hero soon meets Arkadin, who hires him to investgate….Arkadin. He claims he has memory lose and can not remember anything before 1927. This gets stranger and stranger as we go. It is very creepy as well. Welles looks frightful himself with a weird beard and some crazy make-up.
We also have a crazy religious ceremony where people are dressed up like KKK members. We get a strange Masquerade party that looks like something out of a strange horror movie.
Finally in one of the most interesting scenes of the film, we have a conversation with a ring master of a flea circus. The ring master has some of the best dialog in the film.
Welles also shot this with some amazing angles and it has an interesting look. The voice overs were a little annoying to me, but this is a minor complaint. The story is kind of crazy with very little reasonable explanation why most of the characters do what they do. I guess you could say that for most people in real life too. Like anything Welles does this is pretty damn good. It isn’t my favorite Welles noir, but a strange adventure worth viewing.
Favorite Tidbit: As if this film isn’t strange enough Orson Welles was married to Paola Mori at the time of this movie. Yes that’s the actress playing his daughter in this film!