Citizen Kane

directed by Orson Welles
Category: "Drama"
Year of Release:1941
Date Added:04/22/2005
Date Watched:03/13/1987
Description:Powerful newspaper owner Charles Foster Kane was many things to many people, both in life and, as seen in retrospective here, in death.

Orson Welles .... Charles Foster Kane
Joseph Cotten .... Jedediah Leland
Dorothy Comingore .... Susan Alexander Kane
Agnes Moorehead .... Mary Kane
Ruth Warrick .... Emily Monroe Norton Kane
Ray Collins .... James W. Gettys
My Rating:7

Reviews for Citizen Kane

Review - Citizen Kane

Charles Foster Kane dies, alone and unloved in his huge mansion, Xanadu. His dying words were “rose bud.” A newspaper reporter sets out to discover what this means. He interviews Kane’s business partners, his ex-wife and his butler, and reads the memoirs of the banker who managed Kane’s money, but he never discovers what “rose bud” means.

What he does discover is a man who was desperate to make everyone love him. His every action was calculated to gain this love. He almost gained it at one point — his newspaper empire stretched across the nation and he was way ahead in the polls for the election for governor with the presidency in view. But then his opponent (Gettys) informed Kane’s wife (Emily, the niece of the president) about his visits with Susan, an aspiring singer. When Kane refuses to drop out of the race, Gettys gives the story to the papers. Emily leaves him and his political career crashes. He marries Susan, builds her an opera house and tries to make her a singer, but she’s no good and gets tired of being pushed. She also leaves him.

At the end of his life, his immense collection of valuable statues is being packed up and the inconsequential belongings are throw into the fire. This includes an old wooden sled with the words “rose bud” printed on it. It was Kane’s when he was a little boy growing up in Colorado. When his mother accidentally comes into immense wealth, she sends him away to be raised by Mr. Thatcher, separating him from his father and the sled he loves. Presumably, it was this that led to his insecurity and his drive to be loved.

• From IMDB — The camera looks up at Charles Foster Kane and his best friend Jedediah Leland and down at weaker characters like Susan Alexander Kane. This was a technique that Orson Welles borrowed from John Ford who had used it two years previously on Stagecoach (1939). Welles privately watched Stagecoach (1939) about 40 times while making this film.
• After production wrapped, William Randolph Hearst forbade any advertisement of the film in any of his newspapers - or indeed any other RKO movies - and offered to buy the negative from studio head George Schaefer with a view to destroying it. Fortunately Welles had already previewed the film to influential industry figures to rave reviews, so it was granted a limited theatrical release. Critics from non-Hearst owned newspapers fell over themselves praising the film. The film itself was not reviewed in any Hearst newspaper until the mid-1970s, when the film critic for the "Los Angeles Herald-Examiner" finally reviewed it.
• During the picnic scene towards the end, Welles had to shoot against a back-projection because a location shoot was too costly and time-consuming. The stock footage used for the exterior was taken from an RKO horror picture (possibly The Son of Kong (1933), hence on closer inspection the four birds that fly by are in fact very definite pterodactyls. RKO told Welles to take the pterodactyls out of the shot, but he liked them, and decided to keep them.

The first time I saw this movie I didn’t understand it very well and didn’t like it at all. I can’t say that I enjoyed watching it again, but I appreciated it more. I noticed all the funky things that Welles did with camera angles (looking up at Kane and Leland and down at Susan and other characters), sets (symbolic and representative but not always authentic), pacing (with flashbacks, newsreels, headlines, etc.) and lighting. It was interesting just to watch for this kind of stuff.

I probably would have enjoyed the story of a man driven by his need for love if I knew more about William Randolph Hearst, whom the movie was based on. The one major flaw, in my opinion, was Orson Welles’ makeup, particularly as an old man. I also couldn’t help noticing that the whole plot was an attempt to discover what Kane meant by his dying words, but that there wasn’t anybody in the room to hear his dying words.

Review - Citizen Kane

The first time I saw this movie I didn’t understand it very well and didn’t like it at all. I can’t say that I enjoyed watching it again, but I appreciated it more. I noticed all the funky things that Welles did with camera angles (looking up at Kane and Leland and down at Susan and other characters), sets (symbolic and representative but not always authentic), pacing (with flashbacks, newsreels, headlines, etc.) and lighting. It was interesting just to watch for this kind of stuff.

I probably would have enjoyed the story of a man driven by his need for love if I knew more about William Randolph Hearst, whom the movie was based on. The one major flaw, in my opinion, was Orson Welles’ makeup, particularly as an old man. I also couldn’t help noticing that the whole plot was an attempt to discover what Kane meant by his dying words, but that there wasn’t anybody in the room to hear his dying words.

Something to watch for: • During the picnic scene towards the end, Welles had to shoot against a back-projection because a location shoot was too costly and time-consuming. The stock footage used for the exterior was taken from an RKO horror picture (possibly The Son of Kong — 1933), hence on closer inspection the four birds that fly by are in fact very definite pterodactyls. RKO told Welles to take the pterodactyls out of the shot, but he liked them, and decided to keep them.
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