Roger: I'm always impressed by the empathy and accuracy of your insights.
In support of your theory about the flashback structure for MR. ARKDIN, I would suggest that back in late 1953 or early 1954, when I first read an interview with Welles taken from the French papers, the film was to be entitled M. ARKADIN. He spoke of the European men who had shaped World War II, and the Cold War World which was evidently to follow, men who were as shadowy and whispered about as, one might concllude, the American Robber Barons had been touted and publicized in America during the period which gave rise to Charles Foster Kane. [I wonder what Welles might have had to say about Prescott Bush, recently elected U.S. Senator in 1952, who fit both job categories, and whose family has led us to where we are now.] M. ARKADIN, Welles said, would dwell on the nature of names and identity. Obviously, that is one theme which is played out in the film, but I would agree with you, Roger, that as the film took shape in Welles mind during the following months, the place and importance of Jacob Zouk must have gained a more central position.
For instance, examine the evidence of the novel, Mr. Arkadin, contracted for as Monsieur Arkadin in March 1954 with Gallimard of Paris, published serially by France Soir in 1955, and translated to English in 1956. In a letter dated two days after Gallimard's 1954 agreement, Robert Polito tells us in his preface to the novel, Maurice Bessy contacted Producer Louis Dolivet, saying that because Welles was too busy, Bessy would write the novel for publication, to be attributed to Welles. Bessy wrote: ". . . I will follow very closely the shooting script [of the proposed film] I have a copy of."
If we look at the novel itself, keeping in mind Bessy's words above, we notice that the story, told by Van Stratten, begins on the docks in Naples with the murder of Bracco, like the butchered versions of MR. ARKADIN, and moves rather straightforwardly to the end, where Raina Arkadin stalks away from Van Stratten and Lord Rutleigh after her father's plane has crashed near Barcelona Airport . For the first 200 pages of this 245 page novel, though the other bizarre characters of the film tend to be given whole chapters to themselves, Jacob Zouk is mentioned only twice, and we do not actually meet him until page 215. He lives for just thirteen pages. Van Stratten tells us that he had taken leave of the beautiful Raina [who reminds him of both Mily and his own mother] on Christmas Eve, a kind of whim, to find this old, dying book keeper, who had been released from his German prison cell, as a humanitarian gesture, the day before. "In fact," he says, "I had decided to slip away immediately to Munich to see Jacob Zouk. A mere formality. Then I could submit a reassuring report to Arkadin, collect the sum of money agreed upon, and start living my own life again."
Clearly, your vision, Alan Brody's, and mine of Jacob Zouk coming to occupy such a central position in MR. ARKADIN must have occurred to Welles sometime late in the film making process.
Finally, thinking of marcoshark's reference to THE LADY FROM SHANGHAI and the story of Marcus Schrenker [now there's a name Welles would have loved], let me append a mixing of news items concerning MR. ARKADIN and modern New World Order financial reality: http://www.allbusiness.com/services/mot ... 195-1.html
Arkadin SA, specializing in Worldwide web phone and video conferencing, has its head offices on Rue du Cambrai, Paris
Perhaps, Arkadin was not in that plane; perhaps he got away; perhaps he did not wish to burden his daughter, but did not want to die either; perhaps, he entered into a "relationship," say on the Dalmatian Coast, and had a son. If so, Arkadin could have easily financed him in a great new company of the New Information Age.