Skip to comments.Years of discord to end when ‘Citizen Kane’ comes to Hearst Castle
Posted on 03/05/2012 12:26:49 PM PST by Borges
For seven decades, two names have been inextricably linked yet permanently separated by fiction and fury: William Randolph Hearst and Citizen Kane, Orson Welles scathing, inventive movie that appeared to indict Hearsts lifestyle as a mega-wealthy publisher and film producer in the 1920s through 1940s. The standoff will end March 9, when, with the blessings of the Hearst family, Citizen Kane will air on the five-story-tall screen in the Hearst Castle Visitor Center as part of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival. Film star Harrison Ford is to present an award before the showing.
The clash between Hearst and Welles began even before the 1941 release of the movie, which many people assumed to be an accurate depiction of Hearst, and continued beyond the publishers death in 1951 and the 1958 conversion of his lavish San Simeon estate into one of Californias most popular state parks. Hearst never saw the movie, according to longtime companion Marion Davies, but he was deeply angered and hurt by what he heard about it. Major theater companies declined to show the film, fearing Hearsts 28 papers which reached 20 million readers would write about the private lives and political sympathies of Hollywood celebrities. Fearful of damage to the film industry, a group of industry executives tried unsuccessfully to buy and destroy negatives of the film which the American Film Institute has since named the best American movie ever made. (The movie) bothered W.R. in a large way, his great-grandson Steve Hearst, a Hearst Corp. vice president, told The Tribune on Friday. He realized people would be making a judgment about him based on the film. Festival organizers say they were surprised when Steve Hearst heartily endorsed the proposal to screen the film at the theater. The younger Hearst has seen the film a number of times and considers it a classic, entertaining American film, he said. I obviously dont believe it to be an accurate depiction of W.R. or his love for the property in San Simeon, or his lifestyle, associations and demeanor. The film shows the Castle as a dark, gloomy, nasty place, Hearst recalled. Everybody knows what it really is like: light, lovely, sunny ... very bright, a joyous place to be. He said he believed it was time to provide people with an opportunity to see Citizen Kane in San Simeon, in its proper context, in part because so many people have used the film to form erroneous opinions about W.R. Hearst, Davies and their life there. Writing about the film in 1975, Welles listed some of the differences between Hearsts real life and the movies characters and plot. There are parallels, but these can be just as misleading as comparisons, he wrote, claiming that, except for one line of dialogue and the art collection, in Kane everything was invented. The supposed Davies character in the film aspiring but talentless singer Susan Kane is nothing like Davies, Welles wrote. As one who shares much of the blame for casting another shadow the shadow of Susan Alexander Kane ... Marion Davies was one of the most delightfully accomplished comediennes in the whole history of the screen. Welles took pains to point out the differences between W.R. Hearsts relationship with Davies in real life and the characters in the film. Theirs is truly a love story, Welles wrote of Hearst and Davies. Love is not the subject of Citizen Kane.
Hearst Castle is an American treasure. It’s just a breathtaking place to visit.
Here’s a factoid of interest of San Diegans and visitors to San Diego’s Balboa Park. In the film, the facade of the Museum of Fine Arts doubled as the entrance to Kane’s castle.
It is indeed. I have visited several times over the years.
"You just don't know Charlie. He thought that by finishing that notice he could show me he was an honest man. He was always trying to prove something. The whole thing about Susie being an opera singer, that was trying to prove something. You know what the headline was the day before the election, "Candidate Kane found in love nest with quote, singer, unquote." He was gonna take the quotes off the singer." — Jedediah Leland (played superbly by Joseph Cotten)
I’m guessing that pic is from the movie— an era far removed from present day computer graphics technology. I wonder how they did it.
OK yeah ... a painted screen.
THE CHIEF: The Life of William Randolph Hearst
Houghton Mifflin, New York, 2000
Chapter 6 Hearst in New York: Staging a Spectacle
The measure of a commercially successful newspaper is not simply how well it report the big events, but what it does when there are no dying statesmen, bloodthirsty desperadoes, or heinous crimes to write about. Hearst succeeded in New York not only because he knew how to report the big stories, but because he was a master at constructing news from nothing. News is not a phenomenon that exists in the real world, waiting to be discovered. Wars have been fought, tornadoes have raged, and hundreds of thousands of innocents have been slaughtered without ever becoming news. An event becomes news only when journalists and editors decide to report it. More often than not, what determines whether an occurrence is newsworthy or not is the ease with which it can be plotted and narrated so that readers will want to read about it. If there are no discernable heroes, or villains, no mysteries to uncover, no climaxes, denouements, triumphs or failures, if no one wins or loses in the end, then there is no story to tell.
Hearsts favorite news stories were front-page tragedies of conspiracy in which the public was the innocent victim, the police and city officials the corrupt villains, and the Journal reporter the brave heroes.
Part of the lasting appeal of Citizen Kane is the numerous innovations it either introduced or brought to the forefront. Its use of angles, shadow, deep focus and others makes it interesting from it technical aspects alone. It also was among the earliest to make use of overlays to show a time transition.
Even the opening with "News on The March" was an attention grabber because it literally blasts into the first few minutes if the film.
That said, I think the reason why some people don't enjoy Citizen Kane is that they treat it as holy relic. They're so busy studying it for its technique that they miss what, at its base, is a very good yarn well told by Orson Welles, written by Herman J. Mankiewicz and superbly acted by the Mercury Players. Mercury Players
Actually I think Marion Davis was pretty comedy actress I been seeing her silent movies on TCM they are pretty good
I think film historians are re looking at her career she wasn’t that bad
Nowadays, that'd be considered good publicity.
Assuming anyone read newspapers anymore.
How times have changed.
It sure is. I take it we have both visited it?
It sounds to me like Steve Hearst is taking a practical, common sense approach to the subject.
“Cost: no man can say!”
Years ago my wife and I rented Citizen Kane to see what we had been missing.
I don’t recall much of the movie now, other than it was boring and I didn’t get it. I wonder if watching it with another 10 years on me might help?
Back in the corner of the room, though, I saw John Agar, looking frail and sitting with a woman who I assumed (correctly) was his wife. I started chatting with him about his appearance in one of my favorite films, John Ford's "She Wore a Yellow Ribbon," and I bought a picture from it that he autographed to me. As he was signing "God Bless, John Agar," I noticed that there was one stack of photos on the table from "Citizen Kane," a shot of Welles with the dancing girls. I looked up at Agar's wife and asked, "Are you in this picture?" She smiled broadly and pointed at one of the girls. "That's me." We spent the next five minutes talking about Kane and what a nice guy Welles was.
I heard that she died a few months later, and Agar not long after that
Yes. Who wouldn’t kill for a party at the indoor pool?
I dont recall much of the movie now, other than it was boring and I didnt get it. I wonder if watching it with another 10 years on me might help?
To expand on what I wrote in this thread, just watch it on its own terms. Try to avoid treating it as something to study, a work of art or an academic exercise. Dare I say, don't treat it as an object to be "appreciated" but just kick back and let the story flow.
Whether or not Citizen Kane is going to appeal after 10 years of aging is an open question. It will be interesting to hear back from you after viewing it anew.
I'll add that my tastes in movies often leaves my friends and colleagues out in the cold. My personal preference is for dialog-driven films with deep character development.
Near the top of my list are Judgment at Nuremberg and Robert Duvall's Oscar-winning role in Tender Mercies. After inviting a close friend and his wife over for dinner and movies, they were stifling yawns not long into Judgment. The only spark of fascination they showed was when they saw one of the Nazi defendants, played by Werner Klemperer, which elicited "Ooh...Colonel Klink!".
As their eyes were glazing over, I switched the DVD over to Tender Mercies. In spite of being filmed not too far from here, their interest was close to nil. Some people just prefer exploding cars and space aliens zotting people, all in 5.1 Surround Sound, with plenty of CGI, of course.
Don't take me as film snob though. I do get a kick out of Meet the Parents and other such fare where I can disengage for a while.
You betcha. I thought the outdoor set of pools was cool, then I saw the indoor one. Wow.
I imagine that was a lot of it - I do prefer action. Although I really enjoy the old silent films - but of course that is ALL action.
Might need to try Citizen Kane again - and if you hadn’t mentioned all of the new techniques, etc. it used, I would have just viewed it as another film. I didn’t realize it was so ground breaking in those respects!
That's not the first time I've heard that beneath his gruff exterior, Orson Welles was generally kind to people, both those he worked with and to strangers as well. As recounted to me, he was a very driven man who wanted the best in his craft but did have patience with others.
And of course, there's the Paul Masson pitches. Ahhh...the French!
Have you heard his rant on Birdseye frozen peas?
I always wonder what that couple sitting next to Welles holding the bottle are thinking.
The other thing that struck me was the sheer multitude of just beautiful European antiques.
You’d see something stuck away in a corner... and think, “If that was sitting in an empty room, it would be a work of awe.”
My apologies to all and I asked the mods to pull it.
The mansion is definately a sight to behold! Funniest part of one of our tours was my husband attempting to take a photo of one of the many tapestries hanging on a wall.
He was admonished to NOT take any photos as the flash would speed up the fading of the fabric, to which my husband asked, why is it hanging in direct sunlight?
We also took notice of the aged wine sitting upright on a ledge with a light above it! Crazy.
I too loved loved loved the indoor pool, I could have spent hours in that lap of luxury.