MovieChat Forums > Confidential ReportĀ (1955) Discussion > A Diaster Only a Genius Could Make

A Diaster Only a Genius Could Make


I'd put 'Mr. Arkardin' up there with such gaffs as Lynch's 'Dune' and Cimino's 'Heaven's Gate'.

Any opinions?

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Imbecil.

This movie was brilliant.

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^^

"Keep Ted Turner and his goddamned Crayolas away from my movie."--Welles


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So was Heaven's Gate.

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I agree with you on "Confidential Report" (it's other title), it stinks. I just finished watching "Touch of Evil" again, and it's got to be one of the worst films ever made by someone with pretentions of greatness. Strictly for die-hard fans only. Sorry Mr Wells, but your films really stunk, and most of the public agreed and stayed away in droves.
Best regards,

Steve

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You can't be serious,can you? This movie was brilliant.

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Okay, okay...I'll give this movie one more chance and report back. I tried that with "Touch of Evil" and it ended up looking twice as bad as it did ten years ago! Times have changed and some old movies have not aged well. Except for "Citizen Kane", Wells's films just don't seem to hold up today, but I'll let you know...

Best regards,

Steve

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[deleted]

Everyone's entitled to their opinions, I suppose. I personally feel that the "Touch of Evil" which was restored and re-edited to reflect Welles' original vision before the studio got hold of it was brilliant, and the Criterion Collection editon of "Mr. Arkadin" is one of my favorites. As far as "Citizen Kane" goes, I consider it overated. Technically brilliant, but otherwise a bit thin.

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what they did in 1998 only followed the 58 page memo Welles wrote detailing how the studio could improve their cut of the film

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How can we take your opinion seriously when you can't even spell his name correctly?

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[deleted]

And what, pray tell, do you think are works of art? I am interested in knowing if you know or are you just a posseur.

Nothing exists more beautifully than nothing.

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[deleted]

I'm a super big Welles fan but I find Touch of Evil to be a narrative dud, due to the cross-cutting of two barely related storylines (Leigh/Heston), and just too little actually occurring over it's interminable length. But as a Welles fan there is always something to admire.

Arkadin reflects Welle's desire to continually fiddle with footage as if he can overcome anything in the editing room. He can't. But after seeing it the first time tonight, it seems like a mess, but there's some beautiful stuff in it I like better than the hallowed seven-minute opening of Touch of Evil. I found the dubbing distracting, and artistically annoying (Can't Welles ever respect his own work enough to get organized?) but those were small irritations compared to Othello. I can't wait to watch Arkadin more closely. It has beautiful camera work from the first frame.

I regard the endlessly dubbed and edited (with a Cuisinart?) Othello as his worst movie. There's only so much brilliance that can shine through horrible sound editing/dubbing and characters filmed looking away from the viewer to cover that problem, because Welles knows he'll be relying on the glue of dubbing to "fix" everything.

To everyone saying the studio ruined this or that. Welles career is mostly ruined movies. It can't be the studio every time. I think it's laziness on his part, but I don't care. I rent a Welles movie to think about film, and camera work and such. An ambitious Welles dud is more interesting to me than most self-contained, vaunted films. I don't need everything to be a masterpiece and I never use the word. Those who do, use it as a substitute for two phrases they can't bring themselve to write:
- "I have good taste (and I really admire myself for having it)."
- "I want to praise this film, but I don't know how to talk about film ideas."

I don't think Arkadin is a disaster.
Dune is a disaster.

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Thank you, onepotato2, for your brilliant parody of a pompous, dismissive, shallow, profoundly ignorant pseudointellectual jackass. Sure, the joke is a bit obvious, the targets a bit easy, the audience a bit disinterested, but it's a ripe area for comedic exploitation and the expectations are low. At least it's more original than the "tihs movie sux" parodists who run rampant throughout IMDbland, albeit just as likely to bring about uncomprehending derision in the reader. The penultimate "masterpiece" paragraph is the icing on the cake, so to speak, summing up the inherent mindlessness of your character in a few well-chosen, almost Armond White-esque lines. Practice hard and you may one day be the Stephen Colbert of pretentious academic film critics.

Be careful, though: the parody is a tad mean-spirited. If we get the impression that you hate the kind of person you pretend to be then that might be taking the joke too far. A mild dislike is okay, but that must be tempered with some, however begrudged, attempt at understanding.

And another tip: your character demonstrates an ignorance of Welles (and Ted Turner) that's a little hard to believe - FYI, it would be funnier if you pretended to misunderstand the subjects you speak of rather than know nothing of them at all. Even the dumbest/laziest practitioners of film crimitism can glance through a Wikipedia article now and then.

'Tis a coward I am - but I will hold your coat.

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[deleted]

[deleted]

"I just finished watching "Touch of Evil" again, and it's got to be one of the worst films ever made by someone with pretentions of greatness."

You son of a bitch! Touch Of Evil is brilliant.

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The problem with your opinion is that it's uninformed. Welles was
barred-from the editing-room, the producers did the horrible-editing, not
Welles. The Criterion-set will rectify these opinions, I cannot-wait.

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welles is credited as a producer on the film, though I don't know his influence in the editing process. I must say however, the LaserLight "Special Edition" version sucks in editing, sound, and otherwise.

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^^ Agreed. Thus the reason why I can not wait for the Criterion version.

"Keep Ted Turner and his goddamned Crayolas away from my movie."--Welles


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This weeks Entertainment Weekly has an article describing the trouble Welles had making this film. He was not the person who edited the movie together and the people who did edit it did not take his advice on how to put it together. Really, this movie probably would have been something much better had Welles been involved in the editing process.

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1. TO THE GUY WHO HATES 'TOUCH OF EVIL'

TOUCH OF EVIL, in my opinion, is one of the most brilliant films ever directed... The way the camera moves like a ghost cannot ever be done by directors even today with billions of dollars backing them... The shadows in TOE are amazing, as is the pacing, and the shots, and that first three minute-plus shot without any cuts, as the music got louder and dimmer along with the moving car, is simply brilliant...

I can totally understand not liking MR ARKADIN, it is quite flawed, but hating TOUCH OF EVIL... that perplexes me...

but hey, everything is subjective... we all have our opinions...

It's just funny that the guy who hates TOUCH OF EVIL makes it sound as if it's FACT, not opinion... ha ha ha...

But that's what you get on imdb, a website catered to the opinios of armchair directors who know what's good and bad from the comfort of their couches having never tried to make a film in their life, or to write one (I have made three short films and am working on another as I write this so just call me Sam PeckinFlaw, George Flukeas, or Francis Bored Coppola)...

2. TO THE PERSON WHO COMPARES ARKADIN WITH HEAVEN'S GATE

Personally, I think MR ARKADIN was flawed but in my opinion to compare it to HEAVEN'S GATE is kinda off, is actually way way off, because HEAVEN'S GATE was a big big big big big budget bomb... In other words, Cimino was given millions to make that film, and failed with all he had...

Welles, on the other hand, hardly had any money at all to make this film... he was on a total shoestring budget, and he was merely renting the shoes to begin with...

So there is a BIG BIG BIG difference between a movie, or movies, that are made by directors with tons of money (CIMINO) backing them to a movie, or movies, that are made with close to nothing for directors who are on the outskirts of the biz (WELLES)... AND of course not to forget that CIMINO had a ton more freedom than Welles during editing... IN FACT, Welles had NO FREEDOM AT ALL and was KICKED OUT OF THE EDITING ROOM altogether...

So with what little Welle's had, and all the *beep* he went through, this film, MR ARKADIN, in my opinon, is pretty damn good, for what it's worth!

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Good for you, Enik!

I spend about 0% of my time either reading or writing opinions about movies. I just happened to watch Mr Arkadin last evening after taping it off TCM a few weeks back. I was curious about some things and stumbled into this message board.

Like you, I have worked in film production and have little use for the critics. I went to film school briefly (just to get access to the equipment) and remember the social and cultural chasm between the production students and the history/criticism crowd (usually grad students).

I fondly remember attending a Howard Hawks retrospective. Hawks came up on stage and was answering questions at the end of the day-long show. Some armchair intellectual popped up in the audience to ask him something like, "Tell me, sir, was your portrayal of the gangster in Scarface a universal metaphor for the existential man as he tried to relate to blah, blah, industrialized psychosis, blah, blah, blah? And did you imply that 20th century man is blah,blah due to the dehumanizing factors of blah blah blah?" Hawks looked and him, counted to 5 and said, " Ben Hecht and I thought it would be a lot of fun to make a gangster movie, so we did. And it was fun. Next question."

Keep on making films. You'll appreciate good films even more and understand how bad films were made bad by things often beyond the producer's or director's control. As for Mr Arkadin--I enjoyed watching it. I think I'll run the tape again with the sound off and just look at it. A kind of period-piece eye candy.

Regards,
A

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"Keep Ted Turner and his goddamned Crayolas away from my movie."--Welles
by - AppleJax on Tue Mar 21 2006 23:20:58
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There was scant chance Turner would have been interested in Welles work, because they weren't populist, feel-good movies. His movies have always only reached a sub-set of movie goers (including me).

That dog don't hunt.

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I just finished watching "The Mr.Arkadin",the Corinth version, which is the version that Wells felt was closest to the one he wanted released.This is because it contains Welle's preferred flashback structure.I give it a 4.Watching it with the commentary by Welles scholars Jonathan Rosenbaum and James Naremore,I give it a 9. I haven't watched the other 2 versions in this 3 DVD Criterion release which contain "The Confidential Report" and Disc 3,"The Comprehensive Version".The 35 page booklet included in the set is marvelous.In summary,I get the feeling that Welles lost "it" after Kane.

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i do like the commentary. they keep talking on and on and never have any dead space, which is what a commentary needs to be. often times with actor or director commentary (speaking of newer films here) there is dead space. when critics and scholars commenting, you learn a lot more.

although, one of my favorite commentators is a director, peter bogdonavitch. i love his commentary on CITIZEN KANE, and the one for LADY FROM SHANGHAI is good, but isnt exactly a commentary since it's bits and peices thrown in to fit the movie. also, his commentaries on PAPER MOON and TARGETS, his own works, are awesome. other notables: Francis Ford Coppola's commentaries on THE GODFATHER 1 and 2 (can't watch 3, sorry); and THE CONVERSATION, my favorite commentary ever by a director of his own work. john milius also has excellent commentaries.

i make short films, write scripts for my own enjoyment and expirience, and think of commentaries as my own little film school.

hell of a lot cheaper.

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i thought it's flaws were mostly not welles fault in the case of this film. some of the images in this film are incredible. i bet if welles had had final cut this film would be up there with "the trial" and "touch of evil" for me.

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Touch of Evil is a masterpiece

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One - IMDb doesn't require anything to become a member....Think about this.....

Now this means that any, and I do mean ANY, human/other with access to a pc can create a IMDb account and start giving their personal reviews on every film under the sun.

I do want to let it be known that I believe in free speech and am not offended by any of the meaningless reviews, opinions, etc.. on IMDb. However I do have the ability to LMAO everytime I read "I hate Touch of Evil" or "I didn't get The Third Man"......

Yes I am a huge fan of cinema and own thousands of films not one of which is Eraserhead(Sorry Mr. Lynch fan that started this string of posts).
Some of my fav. directors - Alfred Hitchcock, Ingmar Bergman, Billy Wilder, Michael Curtiz, Orson Welles, Akira Kurosawa, Jean Renoir, Powell and Pressburger, Francios Truffaut, Stanley Donen, Jean-Luc Godard, Federico Fellini, Carol Reed, Fritz Lang, John Huston, and way too many more to list but these are a few of my favorites.

Here is a top 20 of films I appreciate-
1.Citizen Kane -Orson Welles
2.Casablanca -Michael Curtiz
3.The Third Man -Carol Reed
4.Seven Samurai -Akira Kurosawa
5.Gone With The Wind -Victor Flemming/George Cukor
6.Lawrence of Arabia -David Lean
7.The Godfather -Francis Ford Coppola
8.Wizard of Oz -Victor Flemming
9.Singing In The Rain -Stanley Donen
10.Vertigo -Alfred Hitchcock
11.Streetcar Named Desire -Elia Kazan
12.Double Indemnity -Billy Wilder
13.400 Blows -Francois Truffaut
14.Raging Bull -Martin Scorsese
15.The Rules Of The Game-Jean Renoir
16.8 1/2 -Federico Fellini
17.Wild Strawberries -Ingmar Bergman
18.Touch of Evil -Orson Welles
19.The Black Narcissus -Powell & Pressburger (tie)
19.The Red Shoes -Powell & Pressburger (tie)
20.Charade -Stanley Donen (tie)
20.Breathless -Jean-Luc Godard (tie)



I would tell the person(s) who quote "don't like" Touch of Evil to buy or rent the dvd and read the over ONE HUNDRED pages of correspondence that Orson wrote trying to keep his film they way he wanted it. However as in most of Orson's work's it was not kept the way he had hoped and only recently when the dvd was released was an attepmt made to restore Touch of Evil to Welle's original vision. Now Touch of Evil even with all of its flaws, should I say its lack of Welles guidence, it is still a masterpiece! Ofcourse you don't have to take my word for it. I am sure you could ask people like Roger Ebert who get paid to critique films or Drew Casper who is a professor in film studies....

Its funny I remember when I first tried to watch Touch of Evil and it wasn't seeming to get started fast enough for me... Well I gave it an open minded viewing a few days later and realized that I had almost missed one of the top 10 film noir dramas period!

Well I just can't see how an open minded film viewer couldn't see the great ingredients in Touch of Evil.... Its like I read on one of these blogs the other day where someone had said that Citizen Kane wasn't a special film... Now there are opinions and there are facts... Citizen Kane was groundbreaking in every aspect of its production especially in the camera work(composition etc). Not only was it WAY ahead of its time in the filming techniques etc.. but it was also one of the most (if not THE most) controversial films ever made. I would suggest The Battle Over Citizen Kane to anyone who would like to know more about how controversial the film actually was. It just goes to show that ANYONE can sound off on IMDb.

Bottom line I suppose film is art and "you cannot rank art only appreciate it"




ps. I am sure there are plenty of grammatical errors in my typing. SO if I mispelled a word or ten don't worry about letting me know.

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Yeah, you are pretty right on, seeing that a number of irresponsibly idiotic opinions have been expressed here about Mr. Welles' work, but that is nothing new. With all its flaws, "Arkadin" is vastly more interesting and entertaining and brilliant than many films and anyone who doesn't recognize "Kane" as one of the masterpieces of cinema is really missing something.

Your top 20 list was pretty good, with many of my favorites like "Black Narcissus" which few people seem to have seen.

The fact that a genius filmmaker of Welles' stature was forced to cobble together his works on a shoestring budget most of his career and with interference from ignorant meddlers is a tragedy and explains their often less than satisfactory state, but he still managed to create marvelous films in which every single shot is put together with fantastic skill and genius -- you can turn the sound off and just watch and it's still fascinating. On the other hand, his use of sound was equally brilliant. He was a master.

Some people put down "Arkadin," "Macbeth," and "The Trial", even if they admire Welles, but I have found these to be works that reward repeated viewing. Bodganovich, that idolizer of Orson, told him in an interview that he disliked "Trial" to Welles' obviously painful (but courteous) response. In fact it was one of Welles' own favorites (and I think one of his best).

Not everyone enjoys Orson Welles' strange and unsettling films, and they are entitled to their dislike, but I agree with Marlene Dietrich's remark about Welles that "when you say his name you should cross yourself!" Amen.

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[deleted]

5.Gone With The Wind -Victor Flemming/George Cukor

You honestly see something more in this than you do in Raging Bull? Please enlighten me.

Last film seen: The Manchurian Candidate 8/10

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where do you know that from? i have a book in my hands called orson welles the rise and fall of an american genius that says:

"Whatever may have been done to the movie in the cutting room, it was simply ti grotesque, too bizarre, too specialized, and to unpopular in its theme to attract the mass public Welles so badly needed.
...The film had t obe completet before midnight, September 2. He developed the rushees in a French laboratory - a fatal mistake as it turned out, because he had to have an authorization for every foot of film arriving from Spain. Customs officials spent hours stamping...each roll of film or sound tape. (He had suffered similar problems with red tape during the actual shooting.) Welles did not help his relationship with Louis Dolivet when he announced in the magazine Film Culture in January 1955 that he had been handicapped by his producer; nor did he help matters by alleging that French officials had been responsible for his not getting the pictur into the Venice Film Festival. Had he cut the picture in Madrid, where excelent facilities were available, none of these problems would have arisen."

so...where do you have that information from? to be honest i went to library yesterday and got 2 books just to find that piece of information you are talkin about....

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Heaven's Gate is the most undeservedly hated film of all time. Who cares how much *beep* money it cost or how many times Cimino had them rebuild the sets, it's goddamned brilliant. And whoever doesnt like Touch of Evil, doesn't like film.

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[deleted]

Arkadin isn't a disaster. In fact, despite the presence of many things that should have *made* it a disaster, such as an incoherent plot, second-rate lead actors (and tons of guest first-rate actors), occasionally schizophrenic editing, and a generally obvious paucity of funds, it is absolutely wonderful. In fact, it is brilliant BECAUSE of these faults. Maybe we should stop thinking of it as a black sheep and start thinking of it as one of Orson's greatest gifts to the independent film community of today - if you're going make a movie for nothing, the most important thing is to make it one-of-a-kind. I only wish there were more films like it nowadays (not too much like it, mind you: a little coherence and believability goes a long way;)

Welles certainly did not lose "it" after Kane. None of his later work is quite so flawless as Kane, but The Magnificent Ambersons, Touch of Evil, and Chimes at Midnight are just as good. Many good arguments could be made that they are better, but I won't be making them. Chimes especially, which has many of the same flaws as Arkadin, is a work so sublimely great that I'm honestly shocked that it doesn't get more attention. It should be a cult favorite, even though you have to send to Brazil for a DVD.

All of Welles's films are at least good. Even The Stranger.

The other problem with the initial post here is not that Heaven's Gate is a bad film (it isn't), but the suggestion that Michael Cimino is a genius: he's not even close. I like Lynch, but I don't think he is either.

Some genius disasters:

Ingmar Bergman's All These Women
Vittorio de Sica's A Place for Lovers
Charlie Chaplin's A Countess from Hong Kong
John Huston's The Kremlin Letter (which has Orson Welles in it)
Robert Altman's Popeye (which, even so, is a MUST SEE)

"Who's been carving their initials in the tomatoes?"

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Yeah, a true "diaster".

Nothing exists more beautifully than nothing.

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You can't even spell "disaster" correctly...

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It's almost like he was making a joke.

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Those directors at least had their cut of the film released (eventualy, in the case of Cimino).
Arkadins problem is the film was taken away from Welles after filming was finished but before editing, for him editing was when the film making process really came alive and he took his time with it and that made the producers jumpy.
Now what would he have made if he'd had the chance to complete the film? Well not some boring pretentious arthouse dirge - Welles always wanted to be a popular artist - but a lively, entertaining...something (Terry Gilliam comes to my mind)

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