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citizen-kane

CITIZEN KANE (1941)

Orson Welles' masterpiece is about a powerful publishing tycoon.

The great Orson Welles transformed cinema at the tender age of 26 with this brazen and brilliant account of fictional newspaper titan Charles Foster Kane (essentially a thinly-disguised biography of William Randolph Hearst). Welles's artful and technically ingenious film follows Kane's rise from poverty to the very pinnacle of achievement and influence in American society and business  -- making Welles a legend in the process while at the same time earning him powerful enemies in Hollywood who would thwart him for the rest of his long and nonetheless distinguished career.

Orson Welles' first movie, made at the ripe old age of 26, transformed the art of movie-making. A thinly-veiled biography of publishing titan William Randolph Hearst, Citizen Kane insured its audacious young creator fame and renown. But Welles paid a heavy price for making the movie, as Hearst had many powerful and influential friends in Hollywood. But the last word belongs to Welles, whose movie is now universally regarded as among the best ever made.

In his first effort, actor, co-writer and director, Orson Welles, made this incredible drama, which many film critics and fans consider the best American film ever. Welles received a nomination for best directing.

The cast includes: Welles, Joseph Cotten, Everett Sloane, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, Paul Stewart, Ruth Warwick, Erskine Sanford, Dorothy Comingore, and George Coulouris.

#1 on the AFI Top 100. Decade after decade, this classic has been at the very top of almost every movie list ever made. Nine nominations; one win (Original Screenplay).

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CITIZEN KANE was nominated for the Best Picture award.

Promotional Lines: "The classic story of power and the press."

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The basic story involves a newspaper reporter's attempts to piece together the meaning of the life of a recently deceased, newspaper publishing tycoon, Charles Foster Kane. The reporter becomes obsessed with finding out what "Rosebud," Kane's last word, means.

The film begins with the wealthy newspaper tycoon, Charles Foster Kane, residing his hilltop castle in the middle of his huge Xanadu estate. Near death, he examines a crystal ball that has a winter scene in it, and as he leaves this life, he says the word, "Rosebud," and dies. A curious reporter wants to know what Rosebud refers to in Kane's life, and what he meant in his last words. The rest of the film through the use of flashbacks and current interviews with people who knew and / or worked with Kane, examines this powerful man's beginnings, his struggles, how he became successful and his personal woes, including his failed marriages and his fall from grace. Though the reporter never quite finds what he is looking for, the audience is kept guessing and is finally told through a huge, unmistakable clue toward the end of the film.

The character of Kane, was based on William Randolph Hearst, the most powerful media mogul of the time. The underlying, timeless, theme of this involving screenplay by Welles and Joseph Mankiewicz, is a man's search for lost happiness and lost love. Kane is a man who suffered a traumatic event in his life, and spent his life trying to attain power, riches, and buying love and controlling people. He missed out in gaining true love and happiness because he couldn't make true connections with the people in his life. So, despite his wealth and power, he died a lonely, broken old man. This writing effort won an Oscar for Best Screenplay.

My favorite scene takes place at Xanadu. As Kane and his girlfriend have dinner, time passes. Eventually Kane is quite old, his girlfriend is some distance down the long table from him. It's a brave, bold scene.

Orson Wells also directed and produced "Citizen Kane," giving him full control of this powerful film, that is considered to be a crown jewel of American Cinema, a film ahead of its time, as it was a commercial failure in 1941. Orson Wells was a very talented filmmaker, and his insight and talent is seen in spades in this film." I want to give the audience a hint of a scene. No more than that. Give them too much and they won't contribute anything themselves. Give them just a suggestion and you get them working with you. That's what gives the theater meaning: when it becomes a social act.".

This mesmerizing film is a classic because of its excellent cinematography, (Gregg Toland), it's brilliant use of series of flashbacks and remembrance, stirring musical score, (Bernard Hermann), and fine acting by all involved, particularly a 25 year old Welles. CITIZEN KANE is the rare film that excels in all departments, including pacing. Toland's camera work is very imaginative.

The talented cast was mostly made up of people who had previously worked with Welles on the Mercury Theater of the Air. Many fine performances were seen from Joseph Cotten, Everett Sloane, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, Paul Stewart, Ruth Warwick and Erskine Sanford, Dorothy Comingore, George Coulouris.

Orson Welles did an outstanding job, portraying Charles Foster Kane, from a young, vigorous man to an old, feeble one, through makeup and bravura acting. He earned an Oscar nomination for Best Actor, one of the few actors to do so in their first appearance on the screen.

The face of the reporter, looking into Kane's life and death, is never seen, though the voice is VERY familiar. The part was played by movie great, Alan Ladd.

If you enjoyed CITIZEN KANE you may like THE MAGNIFICENT ANDERSONS, EVITA, FORREST GUMP, PEGGY SUE GOT MARRIED, PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE, and NASHVILLE.

citizen-kane

 

Quotes from Kane: "I always gagged on the silver spoon."
"You know, Mr. Bernstein, if I hadn't been very rich,
I might have been a really great man.
"