If you are reading this to hear me say “it’s overrated” then you have come to the wrong place. Some say it’s the best film ever made…I will not argue that statement. I have watched this 1941 film at least 8 times and have enjoyed it every single time. Before I watched this movie I had read all the accolades the movie received through the years. This is one of the few movies that lived up to them.
Orson Welles is the most natural actor in this movie I’ve ever seen. He IS Charles Foster Kane.
The camera work is still fantastic and holds up to this day and it’s been copied over and over. The below floor level shots and others make it a beautiful film to watch. You can see this movie’s influence in a countless number of movies that followed.
Orson based his character off of William Randolph Hearst and his mistress, actress Marion Davies. That fact brought Orson trouble that would haunt him. Hearst owned everything at that time…newspapers and businesses across the globe and had as much influence as a person could have. He didn’t care too much for this movie because it was too close for comfort. If you ever get the chance…see the documentary “The Battle Over Citizen Kane.”
He stopped advertisements in his newspapers and did everything in his power to stop and sabotage the film.
Orson made some great movies after this but never…to me reached this pinnacle again. That is really unfair because I don’t think anyone has reached this high again.
The plot? The movie, unlike other movies at the time, starts at the end. The mighty Charles Foster Kane dies but before he does he utters one last word “Rosebud” and everybody tries to find out what he meant by that. Reporters will go interview everyone in his life trying to find the answer and all the while…Kane’s story is being told. One of the lines in the movie is “I don’t think any word can explain a man’s life.” That is true but it’s what “Rosebud” represents that helps make this movie great.
The movie flows so well from beginning to end.
When the silent movie era ended…the first “talkies” were clumsy with the actors/actresses overacting with their theater training. The studios were also using bulky cameras and microphones that left the scenes stationary. This movie ended all of that. Citizen Kane changed the cinema for good. Up until this movie, we got the same old shots, stiff acting, theater makeup, and mediocre music scores… You couldn’t get by with that anymore after this movie.
Is it the best movie ever? That is subjective but for me, the answer is…yes.
Here is the cast from Wiki
Joseph Cotten as Jedediah Leland, Kane’s best friend and a reporter for The Inquirer. Cotten also appears (hidden in darkness) in the News on the March screening room.
Dorothy Comingore as Susan Alexander Kane, Kane’s mistress and second wife.
Agnes Moorehead as Mary Kane, Kane’s mother.
Ruth Warrick as Emily Monroe Norton Kane, Kane’s first wife.
Ray Collins as Jim W. Gettys, Kane’s political rival for the post of Governor of New York.
Erskine Sanford as Herbert Carter, editor of The Inquirer. Sanford also appears (hidden in darkness) in the News on the March screening room.
Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein, Kane’s friend and employee at The Inquirer.
William Alland as Jerry Thompson, a reporter for News on the March. Alland also voices the narrator of the News on the March newsreel.
Paul Stewart as Raymond, Kane’s butler.
George Coulouris as Walter Parks Thatcher, a banker who becomes Kane’s legal guardian.
Fortunio Bonanova as Signor Matiste, vocal coach of Susan Alexander Kane.
Gus Schilling as John, headwaiter at the El Rancho nightclub. Schilling also appears (hidden in darkness) in the News on the March screening room.
Philip Van Zandt as Mr. Rawlston, News on the March producer.
Georgia Backus as Bertha Anderson, an attendant at the library of Walter Parks Thatcher.
Harry Shannon as Jim Kane, Kane’s father.
Sonny Bupp as Charles Foster Kane III, Kane’s son.
Buddy Swan as Charles Foster Kane, age eight.
Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane, a wealthy newspaper publisher