Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore
Plot: 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.
Based in part upon the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst
Upon its release, Hearst prohibited mention of the film in any of his newspapers and offered to buy the negative from studio head George Schaefer with a view to destroying it. Fortunately Orson 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 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 Hearst's "Los Angeles Herald-Examiner", Ray Loynd, finally reviewed it.
Despite all the publicity, the film was a box-office flop and was quickly consigned to the RKO vaults. At 1941's Academy Awards the film was booed every time one of its nine nominations was announced. It was only re-released to the public in the mid-'50s.
The scene where Kane destroys Susan's room after she's left him was done on the first take. Director/star Orson Welles' hands were bleeding, and he is quoted as saying, "I really felt it."
Orson Welles was just 25 years old when he directed, co-wrote, starred in and produced this, his very first feature film--a feat unlikely to ever be matched on any film so highly esteemed.
During filming Orson Welles received a warning that William Randolph Hearst had arranged for a naked woman to jump into his arms when he entered his hotel room, and there was also a photographer in the room to take a picture that would be used to discredit him. Welles spent the night elsewhere, and it is unknown if the warning was true.
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.
The audience that watches Kane make his speech is, in fact, a still photo. To give the illusion of movement, hundreds of holes were pricked in with a pin, and lights moved about behind it.
When asked by friends how Kane's last words would be known when he died alone, Orson Welles reportedly stared for a long time before saying, "Don't you ever tell anyone of this."
Xanadu's design is based on William Randolph Hearst's elaborate homes in San Simeon, CA, and Mont St Michel in France.
During filming, Orson Welles started treating Dorothy Comingore terribly, deliberately humiliating her in front of the cast and crew. This was to make her hate him, strengthening her performance.
For the opening shot of the "El Rancho" sequence where the camera appears to move through a gap in the neon sign, a collapsible sign had to be built that could be split in two to allow the camera to pass through.
In the scene where Kane and his entourage set off for the beach from Xanadu, large birds are seen flying across the background. In fact, the background was lifted from a science fiction film to reduce costs, and the birds are, in fact, pterodactyls. The prehistoric beasties were probably lifted from either King Kong (1933) or The Son of Kong (1933).
During the violent rampage through Susan Alexander's bedroom, Orson Welles badly gashed his left hand. Luckily, the camera did not capture his injury or else expensive retakes would have been in order.
The favorite film of "Peanuts" cartoonist Charles M. Schulz. He incorporated many references to it in his strips over the years. In 1974 Schultz ruined the movie for anyone who hadn't seen it yet. In a Sunday Comics edition of Peanuts, Linus is watching TV and Lucy asks what he's watching. Linus says "Citizen Kane" and Lucy replies "Rosebud was his sled."
Citizen Kane (1941) had massive influences from Rebecca (1940). Both films uses deep focus photography. Both films have mansions - Manderley in Rebecca (1940) and Xanadu in this film. Both Rebecca and Charles Foster Kane are dead and their lives are explored through the point of view of others. Both Rebecca and Charles Foster Kane have adulterous relationships. Both Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca and Mary Kane in Citizen Kane are dressed in similar fashion and both characters also behave coldly. Rebecca ends with a burning pillow with a giant "R" on it and Citizen Kane ends with a burning sled with "Rosebud" on it.
One of the long-standing controversies about Citizen Kane has been the authorship of the screenplay. Welles conceived the project with screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. Mankiewicz based the original outline on the life of William Randolph Hearst, whom he knew socially and came to hate after he was exiled from Hearst's circle.
Welles fell ten feet while shooting the scene in which Kane shouts at the departing Boss Jim W. Gettys; his injuries required him to direct from a wheelchair for two weeks.