Colmena: May I throw out this idea to mix with your thinking? MR. ARKADIN, like most of Welles' best original films, has a strong streak of German Expressionism running through it. When we watch Fritz Lang's METROPOLIS, we may laugh and marvel at Maria's grotesquely seductive wink, but that does not mean that the film is a ha-ha comedy. Lang's 1925 masterpiece is about the coming world of robotics and the utter careless indifference of the 1% (which we now have to live and deal with). By the same token, colmena, you may chortle at that strange, twisted mating dance between Milly and Arkadin (putting aside the punchline that he murders her), but MR. ARKADIN, on one overridingly important and serious level, is about the return of Fascism (Totalitarianism, if you will) to Europe after the hopes and pledges of World War II. The survivors of the eighty to one hundred million who died in that war were promised by the Allies and by the new United Nations a new deal in the decade after 1945. [Welles, after all, was an official observer in San Francisco at the founding of the United Nations, which made those lofty promises.] But, very quickly, under the surface, the same old players (or their successors) went back to "business as usual." And like Harry Lime, Gregorie Arkadin has gone right back to his greedy dealings in dope, arms, and military war contracts. It is those Gregorie Arkadin's who have also brought us our present World, gradually corrupting all of the institutions which held out such promise.
That was always Welles' great worry from the mid-1930's on.
Who was MR. ARKADIN and all those henchmen he was trying to kill off? They were the men who enabled and worked for the cartels which supported the Hitlers, Mussolini's and Stalin's, who caused all the death and destruction.
That's why, despite what Mr. Naremore may write, I don't buy your steady insistence that MR. ARKADIN is for laughs.