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Echoes of Citizen Kane resonate throughout this lesser known yet brilliant Orson Welles (Touch of Evil, The Lady from Shanghai) film. Written by, directed by, and starring Welles, Confidential Report is a haunting fable on lost innocence. Claiming to have amnesia, millionaire Arkadin (Welles) hires would-be blackmailer Guy Van Stratten to investigate his past. When Stratten's worldwide search reveals the sordid source of Arkadin's wealth, witnesses are ruthlessly murdered. The mystery is charged with suspense and driven by Paul Misraki's surging score. The direction is pure Welles, with offbeat camera angles and wonderful visual details. Cinema's acting elite, including Michael Redgrave, turn small roles into unforgettable characters, while Welles' bravura performance guides the tale to its shocking conclusion.
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Something of a remake of Citizen Kane, Orson Welles's 1955 Mr. Arkadin is a knowing and self-reflective variation on one of Welles's pet themes: the search for a defining secret of a powerful man. Welles plays an important financier who tries to discover his own past by hiring a man (Robert Arden) to research it. Did the seemingly haunted Arkadin simply forget who he is or where he's been? Or is he seeking his own Rosebud--a crucial, lost thing from his life that can serve (if identified) as a mythic key to former happiness? The film, a European coproduction, was made under the typically difficult and extended conditions Welles had to navigate after leaving Hollywood, and the bumpiness shows. But the entire project is really an act of Wellesian deconstruction--it's Welles making a film about the kind of film Orson Welles previously made--and that approach is more electrifying than one might imagine. The editing in this film, for instance, is not quite like in any of Welles's other works, with bursts of linear action literally disappearing between frames, as if the fabric of reality itself was vanishing. As far as the titan Arkadin is concerned, it might as well be. --Tom Keogh
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