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Citizen Kane
Drama, Mystery
IMDB rating:
Orson Welles
Joseph Cotten as Jedediah Leland
Dorothy Comingore as Susan Alexander Kane
Agnes Moorehead as Mary Kane
Ruth Warrick as Emily Monroe Norton Kane
Ray Collins as James W. Gettys
Erskine Sanford as Herbert Carter
Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein
William Alland as Jerry Thompson
Paul Stewart as Raymond
George Coulouris as Walter Parks Thatcher
Fortunio Bonanova as Signor Matiste
Gus Schilling as The Headwaiter
Philip Van Zandt as Mr. Rawlston
Georgia Backus as Bertha Anderson
Storyline: A group of reporters are trying to decipher the last word ever spoken by Charles Foster Kane, the millionaire newspaper tycoon: "Rosebud." The film begins with a news reel detailing Kane's life for the masses, and then from there, we are shown flashbacks from Kane's life. As the reporters investigate further, the viewers see a display of a fascinating man's rise to fame, and how he eventually fell off the top of the world.
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Seminal, innovative film
A friend once remarked that "Casablanca" is a much 'warmer' film than "Citizen Kane." Upon rewatching 'Kane', I found that is not quite the case. It starts out rather ominously, intentionally so, but once Charles Foster Kane's early adulthood is portrayed there is much humour abounding, both subtle and slapstick, until his (first) marriage begins to cool (as a decade is depicted in a memorable montage sequence over a long dinner table). Thereafter the film's noir shadows complement a descent into a very unpleasant downward spiral until the finale (obviously inspired by "Rebecca", produced by David O. Selznick and directed by Alfred Hitchcock, only a year earlier; some of that film's opulent interiors are also mirrored in Kane's extravagant settings). Welles must have realised the picture was plummeting into such dark, glamourless territory as to leave the moviegoers with a 'negative' experience that he tacked on an introduction to the Mercury Theatre players at the end of "Citizen Kane", backed by a jolly tune utilised in one of the earlier sequences.

Not all of the music is by Bernard Herrmann, as is commonly believed. Two musical segments in the "News on the March" sequence were appropriated from the 1939 "Gunga Din" film which was scored by Alfred Newman. The first, a pastorale snippet accompanying a quote about Xanadu from Coleridge's (unfinished) poem "Kubla Khan", then the trenchant strains while Kane meets with infamous world leaders like Hitler and Mussolini. The first appears in the "Gunga Din" scene where Sgt. Cutter (Cary Grant), atop an Indian elephant, halts just before a chasm spanned by a wooden bridge. The second appears in "Din" during a scene where the Thuggee cult leader (Eduardo Ciannelli) rants about prior despots, saying, "Surely Napoleon was the maddest of them all!"

None of Welles' later films comes close to "Citizen Kane" which only affirms that this was not a one-man show. A long list of superb collaborators only heightened the quality of this landmark motion picture.
tough sledding
I have an observation concerning Rosebud (and I don't mean that story about Marion Davies). Everyone seems to assume that Kane saying "Rosebud" means he was thinking of the one time in his life when he was totally happy and had what he wanted. For years I have also assumed that. The other day something occurred to me and I am curious to know if it has occurred to anyone else.

When Kane first meets Susan Alexander he says he is on his way to (or coming from? I don't recall which) a warehouse where his childhood belongings are stored which he has not seen in many years. He doesn't mention the sled, but presumably that is the one thing which drew him to the warehouse. Kane is splashed and Susan laughs at him and one things leads to another. But my point is this: Kane would never have met Susan but for Rosebud. If Kane never met Susan he would never have been caught in the "love nest" with her and lost the election for governor. Kane might have had another mistress, but this seems unlikely. Kane is not very interested in sex - perhaps because he feels he is making love to the whole world. His interest in Susan is primarily idealized and not physical. So but for the meeting Susan, Kane would likely not have had a scandal and would have been elected governor. We are told he would then have almost certainly been elected President. Also he would not have lost his wife and his son would not have been killed in the car accident. As President, Kane could have been the most powerful man in the world. Instead he loses this chance, loses his wife and loses his son - all because he happened to be on a certain street at a certain moment. And the reason he was on that street at that moment was Rosebud!

So maybe when Kane says "Rosebud" he is not thinking of when he was a carefree lad playing in the snow. Maybe he realizes that because of Rosebud his whole life went spinning in a completely different direction from what it otherwise would have taken. By pure accident Rosebud ruined his life and shut him off forever from everything he otherwise could have been and could have accomplished. And maybe that is why "Rosebud" is the last word he speaks.

But if this is true (and it seems quite logical to me) then why does no one else comment upon it? Why has no one spotted it? Or has someone I just don't know it? Or could it be that this is the kind of truth that no one wants to face? That all of our lives are determined more by blind, idiot accident than by design or purpose.
One of the Greats!
Citizen Kane (1941): Dir: Orson Welles / Cast: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Everett Sloane, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead: Portrait of a wasted life full of luxury opening with Charles Foster Kane who whispers the word "Rosebud." With that he dies releasing an ornament that crashes to the floor such as his life. During his life he had alienated himself from everyone, focusing on a political career. Those who knew him are interviewed examining the meaning of his final words. Speculations evaporate into flashbacks to show his brief childhood to his introduction into the world of politics. Directed by Orson Welles who was only twenty-five when he directed this film, and its impact would render it his masterpiece. He also takes to acting and flawlessly portrays Kane through his adult life and mirrors his frustration and longing for the one thing he missed. Outstanding supporting work by Joseph Cotton and Everett Sloane who portray friends of Kane's who also worked with him, and both with different results career wise. Dorothy Comingore plays his mistress who grows tired and depressed until her only option is to leave. Agnes Moorehead plays Kane's mother who reluctantly makes the decision along with his father that ultimately affects his entire life. Brilliantly constructed with astonishing imagery and Welles revealing the big payoff in the final shot. Score: 10 / 10
A great piece of cinema, a magnificent example of storytelling
I've heard so much told about Citizen Kane and Orson Welles, so I finally decided to get the film, and find out if it really is all that it's cracked up to be... I must say, it's great. The plot is great, and the way it's told is amazing. The story is first summed up in a matter of minutes, about 15, to be more accurate, and then the rest of the film has characters telling the story through flashbacks and retelling. We hear just about every opinion about Charles Foster Kane, apart from his own. The story is told after his death, and we see everything important that leads up to it, and only in the very end do we understand him, only then do we fully understand who he was, and what made him so. The ending also reveals one of the very most important things in any man or woman... one thing that everyone needs and knows of. I won't reveal it here, as it would almost be a crime to spoil the experience of this film to anyone. The acting is excellent; Welles himself is stellar as Kane, and his impressive appearance, along with his commanding voice, makes the character a forceful sight, nay, experience. The characters are well-written and credible. The character of Kane is probably the most well-rounded and perfectly built up I've seen in a movie, ever. The cinematography is excellent... the editing is great. I can't praise the angles, pans, zooms and transitions enough... it just has to be experienced. Now, for the one thing I can criticize in the film; the pacing. It's only two hours long, but it feels like much, much more. There were portions of the film where it felt like it didn't move at all. When there weren't great dialog or something equally as good in the film, it dragged terribly. There were too many scenes where the dialog seemed pointless, as well, I think. It didn't seem to be leading to anything. However, this criticism is so minor, due to the ending more than making up for it, that I still give this film a perfect score. I can't do anything but agree with its placing at the top of the top #250 films of all time, here on IMDb. As I'm writing this, it's #11. That's pretty much what it deserves, in my opinion. Not higher, not lower. Not the greatest film of all time(that pretty much still belongs to The Godfather, I think... at least, I haven't seen a better film than that, yet), but definitely far up there. I recommend this to any fan of film in general, and anyone who thinks they can understand it; it has a truly profound point that any man(and woman) should know of(preferably through seeing the film for themselves). Don't let the fact that it's old and black & white deter you from seeing this masterpiece. A true cinematic masterpiece, in every sense of the word. 10/10
Love The Cinematography; Story Not That Appealing
Hey, make no mistake: this film does deserve lofty status. It is a good film, fantastically photographed.....but the greatest of all time? I question that, but that kind of question - Who's number one? - is impossible to answer.

I would think to be number one you would have to have a great technical film, great story, great acting, great camera-work as this has, AND have it generally loved by the public. Then you have a true number one picture of all time. I'm not a fan of "Gone With The Wind," but that was a technical marvel, too, for its day and was universally loved by millions of I can see that being listed number over Citizen Kane. The same goes for Casablanca, Ben-Hur and a number of wonderful films.

Anway, concerning this movie, I enjoyed it best for the cinematography. Orson Welles, the "genius" behind this film, was ahead of his time with his inventive camera-work. The acting is good and it's interesting to note that this was Welles' first acting role. Yes, he was an amazing talent, behind or in front of the camera. The story is pretty unlikable and, in this day and age would be too boring for most people under 50, sad to say. However, even older, more "mature" folks find this hard to get through sometimes from what I have read.

The unlikable part mainly comes from the lead character, "Charles Foster Kane," played by Welles. He is simply a selfish egomaniac. Other unpleasant parts of the story include several scenes with his second wife, in which she berates him in this shrill hysterical voice; the fact there is very little humor in here and the ending is anything but uplifting.

For those who find this a confusing story, I suggest giving it another chance. I found this film better the more chances I gave it. It also looks fabulous on the latest special-edition DVD. In summary, it was a great technical achievement but remember professional critics usually have the same mindset and are afraid to be their own person, so don't feel stupid or inadequate if this film doesn't do it for you. You are hardly alone. But, yet, that camera-work has to be seen and appreciated if you really love movies.
One of the Best
Ease the tension. Give it a 10-rating. I'm not sure if I could pick any movie and claim it was the Best Movie of All Time. That's a great deal of pressure. So I ignore such a label, and I watch the film.

"Citizen Kane" is powerful, but it's so well constructed as to give you multiple impressions of Kane that it's hard to realize how emotionally charged this movie is. I love it for lines such as Kane's explanation of what he would've been if he hadn't have been rich: "Everything you hate," he says. And I love the movie because of Welles's voice. You could look at this movie a hundred different ways, and the details would still remain to support you.

It's perhaps one of the most intricately-constructed films I've ever seen, and the honesty in the film is magnificent. This movie does make me sad, because among other questions, it asks this: "If you're remembered after you die for what you did, what you will it be?" And, to me, that's a very sad question to want to ask. A feeling that there is no absolute understanding between people. That it's all skewed by our own personalities. That who you are depends on the paper you chose to read.

How could anyone not think this movie is great? Best film of all time, whatever. The movie is brilliant, one way or another.
A Good Film to Watch.
It's important for all people to explore the world and pursue their dreams and goals for themselves. It's important for people to be happy with their lives and not force people to help them become successful. Money, greed, and selfishness don't bring happiness to someone that was forced to get into a career at an early age or of any age at all. It's important for a person to enjoy their childhood while looking ahead towards a brighter, happy future.

The actor's portrayal of Kane and his colleagues was shown very well throughout the film. The juxtaposition of the flashbacks and the present time research of Kane's life were used well and made the plot flow through fast and easy for the viewers to understand what was happening in the film. The news reel and the voice narration of providing the back story of Kane's life and death was effective to set up the main idea that the viewers are going to see and find more information about Kane's life and what the meaning of the last word that Kane said at his deathbed was all about. The use of framing and cinematography was used well throughout the film. The lighting on the back of the actors and the front of the actors was really dramatic, sharp in focus in the depth of field, and kept people guessing what was going on inside their minds and the emotions that they're feeling at the present time as Kane and the reporter are searching for success. In other scenes, the use of lighting was soft and sometimes balanced through the film. The double exposures in some parts of the film were used well.

Overall, it's a good film to watch. It has a great moral story that everybody should follow in their lives.
an over-rated movie
For the life of me, I have tried hard to understand how and why this movie could possibly be considered the #1 film in the first 100 years of American film-making. The first time I tried to watch it, I got a few minutes and hated it; I couldn't make myself care. I tried again, because it's a "classic" made by a "genius", and I sincerely wanted to understand how it could possibly be voted higher than Casablanca.

It is boring and noisy and the makeup is horrible. I will never understand why this movie was voted #1. I wouldn't even put it in the top 100.

It has failed in every way a film can fail. I don't care about the protagonist. I find it cliché, obnoxious and dull. Perhaps in its day it was fresh, but it doesn't stand the test of time the way Casablanca does.

I don't care what anyone else says about this movie; in my opinion, it is the worst thing a movie can be: boring. I will never force myself to watch it again.
About a boy
A word of warning: The following review and critique contains "spoilers" (dialog and plot-points which may - and in this instance - will give away scenes and surprises in the film), but it is unlikely that this will be the first time you have read or heard this information. After all, what can really be said or written about this film that hasn't be said or written before? Everyone who writes about film (from it's release in 1941, to me tonight, to someone else tomorrow) has written something either about or in reference to "Citizen Kane". It is a true classic. "Citizen Kane" is not only one of the most talked about films ever, it is also one of the most influential films ever. And, perhaps, singularly the best film American cinema has ever produced. Art is a very subjective thing, and this film is clearly filled with it. Only great art or great tragedy can produce such lengthy and long-term discussion. So what can be said that has not been said previously? Let me start by saying I did not like Charles Foster Kane, nor do I believe I was meant to. I do not take for granted that characters must be sympathetic. They do not. There is such a thing as the dark and mysterious (sometimes dangerous) character; someone who, simultaneously, will shock and infuriate us, yet from whom (for some reason) we can not turn away. In other words, it is possible to care about and become involved in the life stories of less than idyllic people. This is especially true with regards to Charles Foster Kane. Mr. Kane is a tyrant. He's as hated as he is feared. By the second act we see Kane as a hostile, detached and driven man. But time offers the unique gift of insight to those who are willing to wait for it. Something did not occur to me until recently (I did not see or hear it in any speech or interview, nor have I read of it in any of the too-numerous-to-count reviews, write-ups and critiques of the film): Charles Kane is not a man at all. He is still the same scared little boy taken away from his home and his family, lost in the wilderness, scarred for life and seemingly irreversible damaged. Now, I am positive that I am not the first to come to this conclusion (simply based on my personal knowledge that I am not that bright), but I am the first (that I know of) to write it down tonight. What do we see in the beginning of the picture (which we don't realize until the end)? The end of innocence. Lost youth. Separation. These are the things that plague Kane as an adult and shape the broken soul who tried to purchase virtue, marry youth and fight for any kind of connection throughout his "adult" life. He needed a connection. To anyone. Or anything. Do you remember in the beginning of "Citizen Kane" when he says "Rosebud" and then drops the snow globe? The butler tells the reporter at the end of the film that Mr. Kane said it twice. You only hear him say it once in the beginning. But at the end of the film, when he tears apart the room after his wife walks out, destroying practically everything, he picks up the snow globe, and is about to break it, but notices the sled encased in it. He is crying and says "Rosebud". He then walks past several employees, including the butler (who clearly heard him) and then lies down, says it again, drops the globe and dies. Here is my point: He is redeemed. Regret equals redemption. Kane regrets everything. Susan Alexander, this wife that left him (whom he left his first wife and son for); Kane met her while on the way to the warehouse that contained his youth (including his childhood sled "Rosebud" which was his last physical bit of material possession that held any connection to his long-deceased mother). He never made it to that warehouse (that night or any other) because he met Susan. Because of this he never regained, retained or made peace with that lost youth. So instead he tried to buy happiness and marry the youthful Ms. Alexander, in an attempt to hold onto some sort of ideological notion of what childhood could have been. Only after the second Mrs. Kane walks out, and he sees that sled in that snow globe, does he recall what he would have or could have been had he never accepted that "hot water" that Susan Alexander offered him on that sidewalk that first night they met. He becomes a man in that instant. Charles regrets everything. Then, he makes peace with everything by remembering everything. And he dies with redemption.
Innovative, aggressive, and fascinating, "Citizen Kane" electrified a complacent industry…
"Citizen Kane" was a dazzling movie debut for Welles, a twenty-four-year-old infant terrible whose brilliant work for stage and radio had already made him famous…

RKO had given him carte blanche, and with the collaboration of writer Herman Mankiewicz and photographer Gregg Toland, he had produced a masterpiece…

"Citizen Kane" is the story of Charles Foster Kane, a rich young man who decides to build a newspaper empire and in doing so sacrifices his professed high ideals on the altar of yellow journalism… His personal, political ambitions are ruined when his extramarital liaison with a young singer becomes public knowledge and his efforts to make her an international opera star bring him nothing but ridicule… Having alienated his friends and wives and lost a good part of his fortune, Kane spends his last years alone in the enormous art-filled palace he has had created in Florida…

Told primarily in flashbacks, the film begins with Kane's death: after dropping a paperweight that simulates a snowfall when it is turned upside down, the old man whispers a single word, "Rosebud," and dies… Immediately a strident Mach-of-Time newsreel begins, reviewing the highlights of Kane's career as the camera had recorded them over the years… It is, however, an unsatisfactory record of a man's life, and a group of journalists decide to probe deeper in an attempt to discover the truth about Kane… Perhaps, they speculate, the word "Rosebud" offers a clue... Then ensues a series of interviews with the key people in Kane's life, each of whom relates the man's story as he or she knew it...

The portrait that eventually emerges is one of a grasping, vain, selfish, and ambitious man... "He never gave you anything," an old friend recalls bitterly, "he just left you a tip." In the film's final moments, workmen in Kane's palace are seen destroying unwanted junk… One of the items they toss into the furnace is a child's sled; as it burns, the word "Rosebud" can be seen painted on it…

The story of Charles Foster Kane is engrossing but not particularly profound… The movie is a superb piece of film-making, nonetheless, because the techniques employed, although not necessarily new, had never before been used together to such startling effect… Welles and Toland made brilliant use of deep-focus photography and of an arsenal of lighting effects…

In the course of the film, flashbulbs pop, spotlights play, the sun's rays pour down into darkened rooms, beams of light are emitted by a movie projector, lightning flashes, and smoke, fog shadows, rain, and snow all contribute to the almost tangible atmosphere… Quick, dramatic cuts occur throughout… In one famous sequence, Welles employs six fast scenes to portray the disintegration of Kane's first marriage: each shot shows Kane and his wife at the breakfast table, but in each they are clearly more estranged until, in the final shot, they sit in silence as she reads a rival newspaper…

Toland's constantly moving camera is somewhat obtrusive, but it is nevertheless mesmerizing… In the famous sequence at the opera house—the occasion of the second Mrs. Kane's disastrous debut—the camera shows the anguished vocal coach in the conductor's box and then moves upward to the flies, where one stagehand expresses his critical opinion of the performance by holding his nose… Welles' use of sound, ranging from thunder to a cockatoo's screech, reflects his experience in radio…

There had never been a picture like "Citizen Kane." It openly satirized a wealthy and powerful living American, it deliberately antagonized Hollywood's ruling elite, and it bravely ignored conventional cinema technique… Innovative, aggressive, and fascinating, "Citizen Kane" electrified a complacent industry… Welles dominated Kane… He had become, in a single stroke, the most admired, envied, praised and detested man in Hollywood… Unhappily, the movie industry never learned to utilize Welles' quixotic genius, and his career never rescaled the heights it had reached in 1941…
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