Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Noirsville Bonus Shower/Bath Scenes a Strange Compulsion (Part 13)

It took 78 camera setups, and 53 cuts, seven days of filming  to construct the 45 second shower scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (1960).  It's uneasy to watch, queasy for the faint of heart, and compulsively sleazy as we all willingly become the voyeurs of a woman taking a shower. For me the seminal sequence  runs "Eye to Eye."  The bonus on subject celluloid and amateur studies from film and still photography below will be equally book-ended "Eye to Eye."

Noirsville More Graphic Art

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Noirsville Tune Of The Week

Paul Pritchard studied French Horn and Composition at the Royal College of Music. As a player, he embraced almost every style of music, working with performers as diverse as: the London Symphony Orchestra, Frank Sinatra, Elvis Costello and Blur.

Gumshoe Blues

Saturday, April 27, 2019

Mr. Arkadin aka Confidential Report (1955)

Mention Orson Welles among cinephiles and you'll get the full range of reactions.

Love him or hate him, Orson Welles films have a definite bizarre quality. Both visually and plot wise. This is partly from his creative genius and partly from the loss of creative control that plagued many of his works. This point is illustrated by the fact that seven different versions of Mr. Arkadin, none of which were ever approved by Welles. The film under the title Confidential Report was released in the U.K. and Spain in 1955 but wasn't released in the U.S. until 1962.

The story it's said, was derived particularly from the episode "Man Of Mystery" from a radio series called The Lives Of Harry Lime, these were based on the character Lime written by Graham Greene. Welles portrayed Harry Lime in Carol Reed's screen adaptation The Third Man. It's also conjectured that an episode of the Ellery Queen radio show entitled "The Case Of The Number Thirty-One" provided the inspiration for the name Arkardin, and a few other plot points.

A French-Spanish-Swiss co-production film, written and directed by Orson Welles and shot in several Spanish locations, including Costa Brava, Segovia, Valladolid and Madrid with additional footage from London, Munich, Switzerland, Paris, and the French Riviera. Cinematography was by Jean Bourgoin (Black Orpheus (1959), The Longest Day (1962)), and Music was by Paul Misraki.

The film stars Orson Welles as Gregory Arkadin, Robert Arden as Guy Van Stratten, Patricia Medina as Mily, Paola Mori as Raina Arkadin, Akim Tamiroff as Jakob Zouk, Gregoire Aslan as Bracco, Jack Watling as Bob, Mischa Auer as the Professor, Peter Van Eyck as Thaddeus, Michael Redgrave as Burgomil Trebitsch, Suzanne Flon as Baroness Nagel, Frederick O'Brady as Oskar, Katina Paxinou as Sophie Radzweickz Martinez, Manuel Requena as Jesus Martinez, Tamara Shayne as the woman who hides Zouk, Terence Langdon as Mr. Arkadin's Secretary, Gert Fröbe as a Munich Detective, Eduard Linker as a Munich Policeman, Gordon Heath as the pianist in the Cannes bar, Annabel as the woman with a baguette in Paris.

Mr. Arkadin (Welles)
Guy Van Stratton (Arden)
Mily (Medina)
Raina (Mori)
Jakob Zouk (Tamiroff)
The body of a naked woman washed up on a beach at high tide.

Title Card: A certain great and powerful king once asked a poet "What can I give you of all that I have?"  He wisely replied "Anything sir... except your secret."

Cut to a single engine plane flying over Barcelona a Voice Over narration tells us...

VO: On December 25th, an aeroplane was sighted off the coast of Barcelona. It was flying empty. Investigation of this case reached into the highest circles, and the scandal was responsible for the fall of at least one European government. This motion picture is a fictional reconstruction of events leading up to the murder and the appearance, last Christmas morning of the empty plane.

It's Christmas Day, Guy Van Stratten, a grifter, makes his way through a snowy streets of Munich to an apartment house at Sebastianplatz 16. He climbs up to a barely furnished garratt. Guy is there trying to persuade a just released from prison con Jakob Zouk to leave with him.

Guy Van Stratten: I'm sorry but you're going to have to talk to me. We got to get out of here. Look, if we don't start moving, right away, you're going to be killed! I mean that, murdered.
Jakob Zouk: I'm a dying man with no money. Somebody wants to kill me? He's wasting his time.
Guy Van Stratten: No money? Well, you could use some dough, couldn't you. How would you like to earn 500 marks?
Jakob Zouk: Earn?
Guy Van Stratten:Or, even a thousand! We could go to my hotel. No, that's no good, he might find us. We can go to another hotel and I'll get you a fine room with a nice bed and lots of warm, big, thick, heavy blankets.
Jakob Zouk: Oh, yeah? And who are you? Santa Claus?
Guy Van Stratten: I am the one who's going to keep you from getting murdered. Oh, I know you, sir, you're an old jail bird, just on a stir, an ex-dope pusher, the world's forgotten you. I wouldn't give you a thought if I didn't have to. If my own life didn't depend on it.

Guy begins to tell his story and the film goes into a series of flashbacks detailing the tale up to this point. Guy was scratching out a living smuggling cigarettes from France to Italy. One night, along a  Mediterranean quay on the French Riviera, Guy witnesses the end of a confrontation in which one man Bracco lays dying with a knife in the back while his attacker hobbles away quickly on a wooden leg.

Guy and his stripper girlfriend Mily reach the man before he dies.

Mily: Who is this man? You know we can't afford any trouble.
Guy Van Stratten: Go get a doctor, quick!
Bracco: Too late, for a doctor.
Mily: What about the police?
Bracco: Try to keep them away. I-I don't want to spend my last few minutes with a lot of cops..

When the police arrive they question  Guy. He must go back to his sailboat to produce his papers. Mily is with the dying man for his last few moments. He whispers to her two names in her ear that he says are worth millions.

When guy is released from police custody he traces Mily to her next gig as a bubble dancer in a dive bar. Mily tells him that the name Mr. Arkadin was one of those passed to her by the dead man. The second name was that of a woman but she doesn't at first remember it. Guy does some investigating and finds out that Arkadin is a multi millionaire, his yacht is in port and his daughter parties around town.

At a nightclub Guy begins to chat up Riana, Arkadin's daughter. With his eye on meeting Arkadin and since his boat was confiscated by the police, he finagles a ride with Riana in her sports car from the French Riviera to the costume ball that the Arkadin's are throwing in Spain.

When Guy leaves with Riana he notices that Arkadin's henchmen are spying on his actions. Mily uses her womanly charms to get invited on the cruise to the same party on Arkadin's yacht.

At the costume ball, Arkadin confronts Guy with a confidential report, it tells Arkadin that Guy is a fake name and all about his criminal history. Guy mentions that he knows Bracco. Instead of being angry, Arkadin wants to hire Guy and pay him to discover his past.

The confidential report

Arkadin: You're a fool. But, not a silly fool. And, I am not, ungenerous.
Guy Van Stratten: Not, ungenerous? That means...
Arkadin:  Ten thousand dollars. Tax free, of course. You can have it in gold in Liechtenstein.
Guy Van Stratten: Make it twenty thousand.
Arkadin:  You are a poor businessman, Van Stratten. You're bargaining before you know what's for sale.

"I don't know who I am"

Arkadin tells Guy that he doesn't remember anything before 1927.

 Arkadin: I do not know who I am.

Arkadin feels that a shady character like Guy can get information better than the police can. Arkadin's only condition is that Guy must not see Riana again. Mily tells Guy that Arkadin has invited her on another cruise. Guy tells Mily about his new job for Arkadin. Mily also remembers part of the second name that Bracco whispered to her, that of a woman named Sophie.

Guys search sends him on an odyssey across the globe, Helsinki to Leopoldville. Brussels. Belgrade. Beirut, Reno, Trieste. Marseilles,, Mexico. At intervals Guy reports officially to Arkadin and unofficially to Mily.

Arkadin gets Mily drunk and pumps her for information.

Gregory Arkadin: When did you talk to Van Stratton?
Mily: [Drunkenly] It seems you were pretty chummy with some Nazi collaborators in Vichy.
Gregory Arkadin: Have some champagne.
Mily: They trusted you with all their money, those Nazis, who invested in South America for after the war. They didn't even ask for a receipt! Now their families can't even prove the money's theirs. And then, and then there's Mussolini. All those roads you built for the fascists in Ethiopia. Bad water. Not enough-enough food. Guy said more than a hundred of the men died. You know, you're kind of cute in a weird sort of a way. After a person gets over being scared of you. Why'd you grow that awful beard?
Gregory Arkadin: To scare people with.

It all goes Noirsville when Guy finds out that Arkadin has been tailing him and everyone he's been contacting is ending up dead.


The Professor (Mischa Auer) 

Flea Circus

Thaddeus (Peter Van Eyck) 

 Sophie Radzweickz Martinez (Katina Paxinou)

Baroness Nagel (Suzanne Flon)

 Burgomil Trebitsch (Michael Redgrave)

nude body of Mily

General Jesus Martinez (Manuel Requena) 

Cahiers du Cinema, has cited Mr. Arkadin as one of the 12 best films ever made. It displays all of Welles' acumen in the film medium. The usual array of technical effects is on display, the deep-focus shots, ambiguous editing, long takes, and fragmented vignettes punctuated with a soundtrack that at times blares.

Welles of course looks ominously ridiculous, his penchant for the visually absurd, strong. A flamboyant, cartoonish, bulky billionaire with a jutting full beard looming over everyone. Katina Paxinou, Michael Redgrave, Akim Tamiroff, Peter Van Eyck, Mish Auer, and Suzanne Flon all are superb in their vignettes. Comparably Paola Mori and Robert Arden are amateurish. Others particularly Manuel Requena provide visual entertainment with faces that suggest the grotesques found on medieval cathedrals. Watch also for the flea circus sequence.

Entertaining, screencaps are from the Criterion Collection Disc. Strange yet brilliant, 8/10.