PRINT January 2015


Orson Welles, Mr. Arkadin, 1955/2006, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 105 minutes.

For Jonathan Rosenbaum

MR. ARKADIN (1955) and Citizen Kane (1941) are bookends for the same themes—the quasi-tragic fall of the (anti)hero, the psychology of domination, and the ruthless exercise of power. In Arkadin’s case, throw in the poetics of murder. What a Gothick mix! Arkadin’s germination has even more mysteries attached to it than Kane ever had. To prefer Arkadin, Kane’s mutilated sibling, as Godard did, is heretical. The film is usually dismissed in the annals and chronicles of the King Actor (as he liked to call himself), partly because Welles dismissed it, indeed would never discuss it seriously.

In Welles’s oeuvre, Mr. Arkadin occurs between Othello (1952) and Touch of Evil (1958). Arkadin was a good idea—possibly, as Welles said, “the best idea I ever had.” A wealthy, omnipotent man of grubby origins (played, of course, by Welles) wants to eliminate all living memory of his life before he took the name Gregory Arkadin and to re-create himself, full-blown, in his own image. He pretends to have forgotten his past. He hires a petty hustler, Guy Van Stratten (Robert Arden, whose full-bore acting lacks shading), to recover it. As Van Stratten excavates the great man’s prehistory, everyone who can bear witness, including Van Stratten—now the bearer of full knowledge—is endangered. Why does Arkadin want to eliminate a past virtually no one knows about and that those who do know aren’t likely to divulge? This is the movie’s artificial mainspring, the premise that strains credulity, demanding an act of faith before the movie can believably unroll. Arkadin, the all-powerful magnate, doesn’t want his beloved daughter ever to know about his criminal origins. The implication? She would despise him; he would lose her love. And for him, this would be unbearable. Thus the Spanish serial murders are licensed. Ah, well.

In this fable (as critic Andrew Sarris called it), a girl called Raina is the love object of a devoted father-king. His possession of her extends even to their names. In proper paternal fashion, his name, Arkadin, includes all the letters of hers, one vowel exchange from the Spanish reina. If we want to pursue this wordplay, with which Welles may have amused himself, Raina is, by virtue of her name, nearly the queen, thereby giving a nudge to those hints of incest some have seen in the old man’s obsession with his daughter, played by Welles’s latest love, Paola Mori. If we remove “Raina” from “Arkadin” (the loss he feared), we are left with KD, a truncated Arcady, in which the king cannot live, which leads to his fall, a literal fall superimposed on the metaphor as he (presumably) leaps from his plane. Arkady, Arkadi, spelled variously, is a common Russian name; it provokes a distant linguistic echo of Akkadian, the diplomatic language of the ancient Near East (if that means anything). Arkadin’s original name, when he was a junior-grade white slaver, was Athabadze, which means . . . Enough!

Once Arkadin has killed off all the remaining members of his old prostitution ring, he pursues Van Stratten to the Munich airport, where the latter boards a plane to Barcelona, to enlist Raina’s help in saving his neck (though they had a falling-out long ago). Arkadin desperately attempts to buy a seat on the flight but cannot. He follows in a private plane, which he himself pilots. In a very Wellesian moment, Arkadin’s disembodied voice emerges from the heavy static of the Barcelona airport’s PA system. He demands to speak with his daughter, who has been summoned to the control tower. He must speak with her before Van Stratten can. But Raina, urged on by Van Stratten, tells her father it is “too late,” leading Arkadin to believe she has learned his “secret.” Now the PA crackles only with static. Arkadin has abandoned his aircraft in midair (though we never see him do so). We remember the shot of the pilotless plane; that is a plane that has truly lost its memory.

Orson Welles, Mr. Arkadin, 1955/2006, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 105 minutes. Gregory Arkadin (Orson Welles).

FOR ALL ITS FASCINATING THEMATICS, the film—as everyone, including Welles, agrees—is a mess. Even in its postsurgical state (the editing was taken over by the producer, and several versions were released over the years, none sanctioned by Welles), Mr. Arkadin is, in my view, an extraordinary film that should, with whatever revisions and restorations have (or have not) occurred, still be awarded a high place in the Wellesian canon, despite its frequent use as a stick with which to beat its maker. The failures of genius are, for some of us, consoling. Indeed, much of the Welles literature is a kind of revenge on his offhand possession of genius. And genius it is, despite its flaws. He thinks you are, if not an idiot, somewhat opaque. Nabokov and Welles do not hide their contempt for us lesser mortals. Nabokov gets away with this through sheer intellectual horsepower and scathing wit. Film directors, orchestrating their complex projects, are more vulnerable. Welles, for his part, had good reason to dislike the film. Who can bear to be reminded of a failed dream?

The producer of Mr. Arkadin was Louis Dolivet, a mysterious Frenchman who came to the United States in December 1940, infiltrated New Deal circles, and sought a friendship with the famous Orson Welles. Dolivet was a Communist agent, run by a known spymaster in Paris. His intriguing web of shadowy social and political connections is straight out of a Welles film. Dolivet married Beatrice Straight, who won a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her performance in Sidney Lumet’s Network (1976). Her brother, Michael Straight (a deputy chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts when I worked there in the 1970s), was a member of the Apostles, the Cambridge University club that incubated the (in)famous spies Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean, as well as the elegant Kim Philby and the brilliant Anthony Blunt. In 1963, Straight blew the whistle on Blunt to MI5. In a book titled After Long Silence (a phrase from a Yeats poem), Straight admitted to being a fellow traveler but denied being the so-called fifth man, as had long been rumored. Dolivet, according to this spy scenario, wished to recruit the young leftist Welles, whose fame, charisma, and eloquence would have made him a formidable political asset should he have run in 1952 for the senatorial seat in Wisconsin first won by Joseph McCarthy in 1946. But as Barbara Leaming reports in an amusing anecdote in her Orson Welles: A Biography (1985), the actor’s potential candidacy crumbled when, after presenting a speech written by Dolivet to the press in Washington, which blew away the reporters (“He could be the next president!”), Welles responded unknowledgeably to follow-up questions. Despite this misadventure, Dolivet and Welles remained friends.

Dolivet raised the money for Arkadin in Switzerland. Welles had just finished playing Lear in New York—his Edgar was Micheál MacLiammóir from the Gate Theatre in Dublin (where I got much of my theatrical education); it was there the sixteen-year-old Welles first put a foot onstage. Now he would begin shooting Mr. Arkadin in three countries, primarily Spain. He made good use of Segovia’s great Roman aqueduct and its Disneyland castle, from which you can see the church where that incandescent lover of deity St. John of the Cross is buried. The opening sequences of the film include a night procession of penitentes, wearing cloaks and conical hats, that looks like an animation of Goya’s Caprichos. Kane drew on Velázquez, Arkadin on Goya—more evidence, perhaps, that the young Welles, who like Fellini rather fancied himself an artist, studied both painters at the Prado in Madrid.

The masquerade ball at the castle, after which Arkadin commissions Van Stratten to make his confidential report (the title of the film as released in England), is a whirl of chopped action, close-ups, frenetic music, grotesque and hallucinatory masks. Arkadin, disguised a bit in the manner of the Phantom of the Opera (the film follows certain operatic conventions: exaggerated emotions, immoderate love—Arkadin’s—tenebrous lighting, betrayals, deaths, a twisted plot), abruptly appears. His white domino covers a bad makeup job (again, like opera makeup), including a ridiculous nose, which speaks to (or rather sniffs at) Welles’s obsession with his own snub nose (kings don’t have snub noses) and his repertory of false noses for every occasion. Welles, who both flourished and suffered under the illusion (not altogether unjustified) that he could do everything, designed the tin-can armor for Macbeth and other characters in his eccentric, extraordinary 1948 film adaptation, its dialogue half-buried in Scottish vocables. And who can forget Welles in Chimes at Midnight (1965), running around the battlefield like a corpulent pepper pot (the pepper pot presumably designed by him)?

Hubris, always licking its chops in Welles’s vicinity, waited while he performed miracles of ingenuity and exhibited remarkable strength of character in completing the filming of Arkadin—as he had most notably in making the film’s predecessor, Othello. Welles’s vagabond status in Europe; filming in several countries while trying to keep locales consistent; assembling casts, dismissing them, getting them back; managing payrolls but always close to broke—all this must have made working conditions, shall we say, unsettled. His powerful will and tenacious pursuit of his film have not, I believe, earned him the credit they should. How odd it is, then, that Welles, a master of inventive legerdemain in the editing room, should have lost the film (again!) in postproduction, where his attention often seemed to wander. (Robert Wise, the editor of Kane and The Magnificent Ambersons [1942], told me that Welles, far away in Mexico, sent him some thirty pages of notes on editing Ambersons. “Do you have them?” “No”). Whatever the reasons (a dazzle of editing possibilities, post-shooting reluctance to engage, fatigue, quarrels with Dolivet, money), Welles’s hesitations at the cutting table orphaned Arkadin from its creator. Renzo Lucidi, with whom Welles had worked on Othello, was the film’s editor. Does history elect him butcher in chief? Let’s not judge too hastily. Apparently, critic Jonathan Rosenbaum reports, even after Welles was banned from the editing suite, he would give Lucidi instructions, which the editor carried out until he had finished the film. Only then did Dolivet order the removal of all the flashbacks after the opening sequence, turning Arkadin into a more or less linear narrative.

Long before that, however, Dolivet had begun having problems with Mr. Arkadin. He had never produced a film before. He had to go back to Switzerland in mid-production to scare up more money. He disagreed with Welles’s casting of Mori as Arkadin’s daughter. He (rightly) felt her English was inadequate. She was sent to the great actors and theater directors Hilton Edwards and MacLiammóir at the Gate to improve it. She is still remembered in Dublin for her complaints about the plumbing. Eventually, her part was dubbed by the English actress Billie Whitelaw, later one of the great Beckett interpreters. Welles married Mori in 1955. They never divorced. She died in a car crash in Las Vegas in 1986, a year after Welles. Why go on about her? Whenever she appears, her smooth beauty slows the film’s feverish velocity (effectively urged on by Paul Misraki’s jittery music). But Mori was not the problem. Dolivet simply ran out of patience with what he perceived to be Welles’s dithering and, after wresting control of postproduction from him, sued his director for failing to complete the film on deadline, permanently fracturing their professional relationship and their friendship.

Orson Welles, Mr. Arkadin, 1955/2006, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 105 minutes. Raina Arkadin (Paola Mori).

SEVERAL SCHOLARS, most notably Rosenbaum, have searched the Ozymandias-like wreckage of Arkadin for Welles’s original intentions. Welles’s pacing, transitions, and planned flashbacks (“The whole film was to be told in flashbacks,” he said) are for the most part lost, though in 1961 the movie director Peter Bogdanovich tracked down a print of the film as it was released by Corinth Films, the original US distributor. The Corinth version had retained some semblance of the flashback mode and was long endorsed by Rosenbaum as superior to all the other assemblages (of which there are now at least five, including Confidential Report, two Spanish-language versions, a pared-down version similar to Confidential Report but titled Mr. Arkadin and predominant in the US, and, finally, the 2006 “comprehensive version,” a reconstruction by Stefan Drössler of the Munich Film Museum and Claude Bertemes of the Cinémathèque de la Ville de Luxembourg).

How can we recover the lost structure of Arkadin? There is no shortage of false leads, since Welles had the capacity (and propensity) to mythologize his own life as it was happening. He cultivated the magician’s—and charlatan’s—obscuration and faux mystery, which may have been as much about self-defense as self-amusement. One false lead you can spend a lot of time on is the novelization of Mr. Arkadin, first published in French in 1955, the same year it was serialized in the London Daily Express. It was published in book form in London in 1956, a year after the movie premiered there. Was the novel written from the film script? Presumably. Does the sequence of events in the book rhyme with the sequence in the film, and if it doesn’t, does that intimate anything of Welles’s lost intentions? The book is powerfully visual, with appropriate sound effects. It runs along efficiently if somewhat wordily, its melodramatics echoing the tragic impulse—and Black Mask crime fiction.

In the end, a comparison of the sequences in the novel and the film doesn’t yield much. The narrative of the book is linear, one thing after another across the map of Europe. No flashbacks. And who wrote the book, anyway? Was it Welles, who signed it? Was it written from the shooting script or an earlier draft? Why was it written? Money? If so, who got it? What did Welles think of the book? He said he had nothing to do with it, never read it. He says he first saw it in a bookstore. Then who wrote it? Apparently, says Rosenbaum (Arkadin’s most tenacious researcher), working from correspondence between Welles and Dolivet, one Maurice Bessy, a French critic, who adapted it from Welles’s screenplay.Where is the screenplay?Are you dizzy yet? Wait until we get back to the film.

Numerous versions; scattered outtakes; all-thumbs editors (including Dolivet); irritated backers; reliable and unreliable interviews; devoted scholars following every trail, every clue—we are deep in the typical Wellesian miasma. Those who like Welles’s work are enchanted by his effortless seduction of and fidelity to his “girl,” as he called his medium, film; others, less enchanted, are infuriated by his willful self-contradictions (à la Duchamp) and obfuscations and blame him for his irresponsibility, carelessness, and arrogance. These points of view converge, inasmuch as both camps believe that almost everything Welles did is worth studying, clarifying, and reclaiming—and that project is now a cottage industry, as it should be, since his genius is unique in American film.

Would the several pages of recently discovered notes and comments Welles sent to Lucidi, his editor, prove to be the film’s Rosetta stone? Promising spoor for the scholarly hounds? They are full of interest, but perhaps not ultimately rewarding. They came to light in 2007, too late to have been incorporated into the Drössler-Bertemes reconstruction, which follows Welles’s intentions as far as they could have been deciphered at the time. This is the third of the three versions of the film included in the incomparable 2006 Criterion Collection box set—the first two being Confidential Report and the so-called Corinth version—which has all the bells and whistles: interviews; outtakes; the Harry Lime radio programs; essays by Rosenbaum, Drössler, J. Hoberman, and Welles scholar François Thomas; and commentary by Rosenbaum and film scholar James Naremore.

Orson Welles, Mr. Arkadin, 1955/2006, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 105 minutes. Gregory Arkadin (Orson Welles).

ARKADIN, the center of the film, is hollow. In his grotesque makeup, he is all mask—vacancy doubled when he masks himself at his grand ball. What does he stand for, memorable as he is, since the whole film takes place within his field of force? He stands for Welles’s most luxurious abstraction: evil. If you burrow far enough back from Arkadin, you will, in fact, find his evil origin—Harry Lime in Carol Reed’s The Third Man (1949), which I believe had a significant residual effect on Welles’s thinking on Arkadin. Reed’s malevolent character had an afterlife in an English radio series, The Adventures of Harry Lime (1951–52). Welles played the lead in all thirty-nine episodes, many of which he wrote, including one that presaged an Arkadin figure, from which the script for Arkadin the movie developed.

I suppose Welles’s concept of evil is worth a seminar or two in the current academic dispensation, but its Manichaean determinism is pretty simple. In Arkadin and Touch of Evil, in 1947’s The Lady from Shanghai (at times as mashed up as Arkadin and presenting pure “evil” in the person of George Grisby) and implied in Othello, the words true nature and character are used to signify something intrinsic in a person that cannot be changed. Bad people are bad and they do bad things and that’s why bad things happen. Not unlike in Dickens (in which the reverse also holds—good people do good things, etc.). Thus the old story of the frog and the scorpion, which Welles renovates in Arkadin: The scorpion begs the frog for a ride across the river and then stings him midstream, dooming them both. When the frog rails against the senselessness of this nihilistic act, the scorpion replies, “I know . . . but I can’t help it. It’s my character.” Is this Arkadin’s apologia?

Welles’s The Trial (1962) is based on Kafka’s novel—depersonalized evil inhaled with every toxic breath. And how inimical that novel is to Welles’s melodramatics. Welles, who perversely insisted his adaptation—a dark, dense etching—was funny, told Bogdanovich that he and Anthony Perkins, who played Josef K., laughed “uproariously” throughout the shoot (now there’s a clue to character). But what a perfect mise-en-scène was offered by the wrecked Orsay railway station in Paris (now the eccentric Musée d’Orsay). Ready-made chaos all in one place—what a relief for a man who had a habit of making Europe his personal studio. Welles’s strange interpretation of Kafka turns everything into Welles. The Trial is full of brilliant fragments, including shots of a vast corporate office (reminiscent of a similar shot in Billy Wilder’s The Apartment [1960]), but K. is miscast, and eventually one must reluctantly conclude that the station won. Evil, of course, has its not so enigmatic texts in American film noir, which in turn draws its visual rhetoric from German Expressionism. Which leads one to contemplate the nature of Welles’s rhetorical virtuosity in Arkadin and elsewhere.

Rhetoric has a high and a low life—from classical formal diction to epigrammatic compression, like slang. If elevated rhetoric is employed, it exposes itself to parody (not fully stuffing the emotional pillow). Welles constantly skirts this in Arkadin (and indeed in The Lady from Shanghai). His diction in the film runs from gothic exaggeration (all responses ready-made) to farce (the tug-of-war over Zouk’s blanket). A primary vehicle of visual rhetoric is light and shadow, in Welles’s case originating in his theatrical experiments—influenced by modernist theater impresario and theoristGordon Craig, whom he may well have first learned about from Edwards at the Gate Theatre. Indeed, Edwards’s antinaturalist conception of the theater had a lasting effect on Welles. Welles tends to be given phantom director credit for The Third Man—but Reed’s close-up faces, tilted frames, high horizon, mobilization of architecture as a “character,” and use of shadow as material substance may instead have reinforced the rhetorical element in Welles’s vision as it gradually moved toward melodrama.

What’s the origin of this rhetoric? Is there a comic parallel between Welles’s increasing girth, his growing ego, and his filmic rhetorical excess? Welles’s (ultimately gross) bodily presence was rhetorical—an inflated parody of the original slim charismatic. Potentially dramatic, it created expectations. Its aura, its exaggeration of normal substance, survives as an uncanny specter, creating a context within which virtually all Wellesian commentary (consciously or unconsciously) takes place.

The emanation, the weird spiritualism of this aura, is, of course, the Voice, reverberating in Kubla Khan–like caverns. Indeed, the sculptural capaciousness of that voice, the way it creates and carves space, as great music does, is uncanny. The Voice could, as everyone knows, dramatize even a random list. Magnetic, cadenced, flexible, the Voice, richly textured with a granular undertow, has Chaliapin-like registers. (See how, like many charismatics, Welles instructs one how to write about him?)

Welles had this great instrument at his disposal. A superb mimic, he could do anything with that voice. He could be anyone, everyone. He seemed to be occupied by a full cast of characters-in-waiting. When he thought it necessary (owing to an unsatisfactory performance, say, or to flawed sound recording in a scene too costly to reshoot), he substituted his own voice for another character’s—a practice dating back to his eccentric Macbeth. He inhabits some of his pictures in various vocal disguises. A parlor game can be played as to whom Welles is imitating in what movie. In Arkadin, he dubs Mischa Auer, the announcer at the Munich airport, and supposedly more than a dozen others (even Robert Arden, on occasion?).

Welles’s persona stamps every frame of Arkadin with (one feebly concludes) meaning. How do you make things important? The way Edward Hopper made everything look important? The way Morton Feldman made every sound important? There are moments in Arkadin that are gulped with such visual appetite that camera, mise-en-scène, language, and music fuse in one voracious assimilation—which, of course, is every filmmaker’s ideal. In several of Arkadin’s episodes, there is a summary urgency, as if every setup were visualized and projected from the camera, then restlessly modified at the editing table—the beneficiary of Welles’s improvisational gifts—to produce a kind of frisson that, when it works, makes everything look both risky and irrefutable. How did final versions ever get made? Welles changed his mind every second. So how could he fix one version when he saw everything in a fluid stream of contingencies? Since he could effortlessly mobilize the resistant medium of film into a malleable fiction, every shot has multiple valences, threatening a kind of paralysis by sheer potency.

Speaking of improvisation, how did he create the scene with Mily, Van Stratten’s girlfriend (played by Patricia Medina, Joseph Cotten’s wife), and Arkadin on his yacht? Arkadin’s face is the center of gravity as the cabin rocks and seesaws; she is tossed hither and thither like a piece of flotsam, which she later became, washed up on the beach (the shot with which Welles allegedly planned to open the picture).How he got the cabin shots is typical of Welles’s flair. He constructed an unstable room (on rockers?) stocked with furniture from his hotel foyer. It must have been thrilling to be around him, as well as frustrating. As Robert Wise frequently remarked, “He’d drive you crazy and then do something extraordinary that knocked you out.”

At least four or five episodes in Arkadin survive, I’d venture to say, intact, islands of near perfection where intent and effect converge smoothly into an individual style—the elusive but instantly recognizable fingerprint of identity. Each episode has a distinct signature: Auer as the flea-circus impresario (in one version, the flea jumps); the intricate camerawork yearning for a single continuous shot with the antique dealer (Michael Redgrave), who is having a lot of fun with his “teleascope”; the power of Katina Paxinou’s static performance in the Mexican episode (the best acting in the film?); the wonderful tragicomic minifilm with Jakob Zouk (Akim Tamiroff), one of Arkadin’s old gang members, whose desire for goose liver is as intense as a pica of pregnancy. These set pieces, each representing stations on Van Stratten’s quest, are brilliantly acted and don’t look as if they have been fiddled with. The actors rhyme with the shots that embody them. Even the actors who play “normal” characters (Suzanne Flon, Jack Watling) have a mildly reinforced presence when Welles directs them; as critic David Thomson remarks, several of Welles’s actors lose some measure of weight when they journey out of his magnetic field. In these episodes, they present themselves with predetermined authority, certain of themselves and of their enabling “deity.”

Orson Welles, Mr. Arkadin, 1955/2006, 35 mm, black-and-white, sound, 105 minutes. Raina Arkadin (Paola Mori).

ARKADIN, the movie, presents its story (and Welles’s attitude toward it) in a grand rhetorical fugue. There is a magisterial breadth, a grand sweep of rhetoric fulfilled. But things change. Time, like a worm, eats at everything. It is particularly hard on rhetoric. Yesterday’s masterpiece—in this case, semimasterpiece—can have a hard time accommodating changed modes of vision, new ways of perceiving. The nineteenth century saw differently from the twentieth. Its focal length was different. Particulate vision, accumulated detail by detail, is succeeded, in the twentieth century, by the whole field seen at once, with open edges. Ages and periods declare their modes of vision in what they leave behind, in their art and artifacts. Welles’s rhetoric in Arkadin, including the main character’s hallucinatory appearances, can now look exaggerated, inflated, even comic. It seems at times an essay on the “What a great shot!” theory of film. Content now dominates method—just get the story moving. We conjugate the visual field in ways instructed by television commercials; video games; fast, fast cutting. But in virtually everything he did, Welles was always urging new modes of perception. He was always asking, How can I make you see this with impact, clarity, distinct emotional tone (his version of Aquinas’s unity, consonance, and radiance)?

AMONG HIS LAST WORKS, Goya presented several giants: One (Saturn) eats his children; another (its attribution contested) looms vast over a miniature landscape. A third, the Colossus of 1818, sits, back to the viewer, looking at us over his right shoulder. The posture is meditative, the aura lonely. What dream of self engages this figure? Its great size would call attention to the slightest movement. No gesture is forthcoming. The figure isn’t allegorical, doesn’t stand from any abstraction, unless of course you insist that it does, since art is vulnerable to the viewer’s moods and mind-sets. It inhabits its moment—fully present, potent but puzzled, perhaps even pathetic. Great powers have been given, but what to do with them?

Welles is a colossus who was encouraged from his early days to enlarge, to go beyond, to create a dream, the narcissism of which would, through its magical spiritualism, include everything—language, literature, film, radio, hosts of actors, the poetics of light, theater, Shakespeare, with whom he identified—so that anything he touched would alter, shock, astound, re-create, puzzle. All of which had to be conducted, manipulated, coerced out of fallible fellow creatures. Welles’s vision comes out of that dream of self, a fiction of a fiction, composed of idealism, arrogance, ambition, rage, little or no irony, impatience, sweetness, self-destruction, restlessness, and pure genius.

The old, frustrated Welles, still dreaming, sits there like Goya’s giant, maintaining his posture of exile in the midst of the dream factory, Hollywood itself. The great aura still irradiates dreams and banalities alike. The Voice never ceases talking, talking (in Bogdanovich’s great interviews, Henry Jaglom’s conversations, Leaming’s biography). The masterpieces and the shards and bright fragments of his brilliance catch the retrospective light. Among them, the remains of Mr. Arakdin return their unique and convincing certificate of genius. A failure, perhaps. But isn’t that the genius’s way of succeeding?

A retrospective of the films of Orson Welles will play at Film Forum in New York Jan. 1–Feb. 3; Mr. Arkadin screens on Jan. 28 and 29.

Go to to read Brian O’Doherty’s companion piece, “Kane’s Welles: The Phantom of the Opus,” which originally appeared in Artforum’s December 1987 issue.

Brian O’Doherty is an artist and writer living in New York. His latest novel, The Crossdresser’s Secret, was published in English by Sternberg Press last year.