The backstory to Mr. Arkadin/Confidential Report is Orson Welles just Wellesing it up everywhere. The initial release happened because he was too much of a perfectionist (or maybe just too distracted with a new relationship) to finish his cut on time. Then before he got a chance to put his out, the producer went ahead and just kept recutting it and releasing it. A lot. That’s counting the original radio scripts it’s based on and the novel. But then on top of that, the Criterion boxset includes another version, this one made specifically for this release and containing all footage available from any other version. It’s Comprehensive, yes, “but is it art?” It’s something.
Before we started our journey of Lost in Criterion I owned two Criterion films: The Third Man and F for Fake. They also happen to be the two movies I most enjoy sharing with other people. I got to make my dear friend Pat watch The Third Man just over four years ago, and now I finally force him to watch F for Fake.
Directed, or perhaps curated, by Orson Welles with footage also directed by François Reichenbach, Oja Kodar, and Gary Graver, F for Fake is a sort of film essay about perceived expertise and fakery. It's a lesson we continue to need.
Carol Reed directed, Graham Greene written, David O. Selznick produced, Orson Welles and Joseph Cotton star. The Third Man (1947) is one of the noiriest noir films and one of my favorite films of all time. I'm not alone in there, as it consistently rates near the top of best film lists.
I owned this movie for a long time. I could watch this movie every day and not grow tired of it. And yet still, viewing it to talk about this week brought fresh eyes and new observations: things I'd never noticed; things I feel kind of stupid for never noticing. Which I suppose is the sign of a true classic. Always something new to discover.