Skip to comments.'Citizen Kane' at 70: The Legacy of the Film and Its Director
Posted on 05/04/2011 8:41:44 AM PDT by Borges
On the film's debut in 1941, the New York Times acknowledged that Citizen Kane was "one of the great (if not the greatest) motion pictures of all time." The paper hedged its bets, however, adding that "it was riding the crest of perhaps the most provocative publicity wave ever to float a motion picture," and that this "pre-ordered a mental attitude." The whirlwind surrounding the making of Citizen Kane is well known. Orson Welles, the brash prodigy of stage and radio, earned the envy and scorn of Hollywood veterans by striding onto the RKO lot with an unprecedented contract awarding him a three-picture deal, a massive budget, and the final cut of his first filmthe Holy Grail of filmmaking. The controversial subject of his cinematic debut riled one of the most powerful men in the world, and upset the delicate balance of the studio system. Orson Welles earned every drop of ink written about his impending career in film.
Seventy years later, however, it's clear that the New York Times need not have qualified its glowing review. As Times film critic A.O. Scott recently remarked, "Citizen Kane shows Welles to be a master of genre. It's a newspaper comedy, a domestic melodrama, a gothic romance, and a historical epic." And it is still considered the best film ever made. In 1998, the American Film Institute polled 1,500 film professionals. The result was "100 Years... 100 Movies," and Orson Welles's masterpiece lorded over the list. Ten years later, the AFI commissioned another poll. Citizen Kane retained the top spot. As noted by the late, influential critic Kenneth Tynan, "Nobody who saw Citizen Kane at an impressionable age will ever forget the experience; overnight, the American cinema had acquired an adult vocabulary, a dictionary instead of a phrase book for illiterates."
(Excerpt) Read more at theatlantic.com ...
Sure, some innovative film techniques, but this movie is unwatchable.
I cannot understand how this keeps showing up at the top of the "best" lists
Quite possibly the most overblown, overrated film in history.
Because it’s also a lot fun to watch? It’s like amusement park attraction with Welles as the Master of Ceremonies.
Two famous movies that I find impossible to watch: “Citizen Kane” and “The Seven Samurai.”
Do you like ‘The Magnificent Seven’ - which was a remake of SS?
Love it or hate it, Citizen Kane was a major advancement in the way films were written, acted, directed and produced. And it really is a great story.
It may be one of the greatest movies of all times but I can’t sit through the whole thing... bores me to tears.
Well, it did lead to Glenn Beck’s fantasy of being the next Orson Welles. I’m not sure that’s good or bad, though.
I've gotta love Welles for that reason alone.
He contributed to his own misfortune by being incapable of finishing anything.
“One of the worst movies of all time.”
“Sure, some innovative film techniques”
Really? I always thought the weird camera angles, the kind of things USC film students think are AWESOME!, viewer be damned, were one of the things that contributed to its unwatchability.
What else was innovative about it, do you think?
Also, do you really think guys like Jack Warner, Adolph Zukor and George Schaefer were empty suits? They knew the film business backwards and forwards. Not like the MBAs running Hollywood today.
Not a fan of German Expressionism I take it? The use of sound was one of the most innovative things about it. Welles started in radio after all.
It keeps showing up at the top of the best because it’s a great movie. It actually tells a story of interesting characters in an interesting way. It’s not for the Transformers crowd, it’s for folks who like plot.
Surprised you aren’t giving the “Ulysses” argument here. :)
CK actually has more special effects per shot than many contemporary blockbusters. They just don’t call attention to themselves.
I’ve never seen the film.
None of the dialog in CK makes me need to rewind to figure out WTF they just said ;) I’m a lot more tolerant of art house movies than their equivalent books.
It’s the smart kind of special effects, there to tell the story not to replace it. And they’re more fully integrated into the movie, CK never stops to say “look at these cool FX” they’re just there. On that level I’d compare it to Monsters, which on first viewing you think has only 2 or 3 sequences of FX, but then you see the interview with the filmmakers and realize that almost every frame has something, they’re just small things like digitally inserted signs.
Just watched “ The Magnificent Ambersons” on TCM last weekend. An excellent movie though not on par with Citizen Kane IMHO.
If it wasn’t shredded it would have been. Maybe one day the lost footage will turn up in someone’s attic.
Almost all of the Japanese Godzilla movies are just ripoffs of Citizen Kane.
"The Magnificent Ambersons" was cut a lot and the ending was changed while Welles was in Brazil. Unfortuately, any surviving footage from the original cut was destroyed.
"Citizen Kane" is probably the best film ever. The Godfather is number two on my list. I loved "The Magnificent Ambersons" despite it being cut and changed.
how to improve Citizen Kane:
make Kane not just a publisher but a recently back from the dead flesh-eating publisher, and use the title “Night of the Living Citizen Kane”. Now that’s a movie.
I was speaking more of the newpaper men which Welles was lampooning in Citizen Kane.
(!) Wow. You should watch it. Unlike the “critics” in the thread, I think it is one of the greatest American films ever made.
The saddest thing with this movie is that so many people don’t listen close enough to the dialogue. He was asking the maid for a beer, “Rose...a Bud.” He could care less about some old sled. He was just thirsty.
It’s on my “must watch it” list.
Do you think Welles did a better job with CK or Touch of Evil, which I think is fantastic?
Gotcha. Wasn’t Hearst a big time RINO?
Well, those are both 4-star movies. CK is better, but TOE is no slouch (although Chuck Heston playing a Mexican... well...).
W.R. Hearst was a Democrat. His father had been a Democrat Senator from California in the 1880s. The son relocated to New York City and was elected to Congress in 1902, but he was using it as a springboard to the Presidency, and failed to be elected Mayor of NYC during that period and was also unable to get both the nomination for NY Governor and for President. He gave up running and decided to play kingmaker instead. By the time of FDR, he initially supported him, but split with him during his first term and was more a Conservative and opponent of the New Deal.
“Viva Carlos Hestonez!”
I did watch “The Stranger” about 10 days ago, that was good stuff too. Edward G. Robinson was a really good actor.
Soylent Green: Chuck and Edward G.
“The Magnificent Seven” is worth watching if just to hear Elmer Bernstein’s score.
I really tried to understand why this was considered a "great" movie, and watched a documentary on the making of CK. May have been on the DVD. All I remember was the comments on the camera angles, where front to back the entire set was in focus.
They mentioned others, but they escape me, and I won't waste the time to check them out.
What elements of greatness is it missing? The acting is terrific. It’s an intriguing character study with a quip filled script and it’s told in a way that could only be done in a film (as opposed to a book or a play).
Natural dialogue where the characters talked over each other instead of stilted stagy one-person-at-a-time talking.
And the makeup transformations as Kane ages are astounding.
Bernard Hermann’s score is breathtakingly innovative...especially in the “Sallambo” opera scene where he deliberately over-orchestrates to make Dorothy Comingore’s singing sound pathetically weak and underwhelming.
Yes, I really like “The Magnificent Seven.”
I also can’t sit through “Yojimbo”, yet I really like “A Fistful of Dollars.”
Thank you Emperor P.!
1. An interesting plot
2. "Something" that says "Watch me again!" I've watched "The Godfather" - my choice for the best movie of all time - at least 20 times. Same with "Silence of the Lambs" and "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" All for different reasons, but the same "Watch me again!" call.
CK ia a totally forgetable waste of time. The socialist/progressive agenda made it repulsive.
Mere innovation in technique is worthless if it does not make a movie enjoyable. Doing something for the first time does not make it great, important or noteworthy.
I think I saw it as a little kid and it went over my head.
What socialist/progressive agenda? It’s about a left wing power hungry media mogul. He gets his start by pimping for unions and his lack of any feelings of warmth for other human beings other than how he can use them eats away at his soul. It’s no more socialist/progressive than Dickens’s ‘A Christmas Carol’.
The plot is how a man’s life can be taken apart like an onion and how different people view the same events differently. It’s the cinematic equivalent of the Modernist fiction of Conrad and Faulkner.
It actually shares themes with The Godfathe. How a dynamic and talented man can lose his soul and end up a walking self parody in his self created “paradise”. It predicted the careers of Elvis Presley, Marlon Branado, Michael Jackson and a just a bit...Welles himself (though Welles never lost his soul).
I watched it once and hated it. Completly un-memorable, except for that stupid dancing scene and the burning sled. It made WaterWorld look good.
I still have the DVD. I'll try again in another 20 years to see if I change my mind.
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