American Experience: Season 8, Episode 7

The Battle Over Citizen Kane (29 Jan. 1996)

TV Episode  |   |  Documentary, History
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 1,046 users  
Reviews: 15 user | 6 critic

Documentary about the battle between Orson Welles and William Randolph Hearst over Welles' Citizen Kane (1941). Features interviews with Welles' and Hearst's co-workers also as a relative complete bio of Hearst.

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Episode credited cast:
William Alland ...
Thomas Anderson ...
Jimmy Breslin ...
Richard Ben Cramer ...
Narrator (voice)
Herself (archive footage)
Leonard de Paur ...
Richard France ...
William Randolph Hearst ...
Himself (archive footage)
William Herz ...
Sam Leve ...
Nancy Loe ...
Frank Mankiewicz ...


This documentary, produced for PBS' _"American Experience, The" (1988)_ series, chronicles the struggles between filmmaker Orson Welles and newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst over the making and release of Citizen Kane (1941), whose protagonist (Charles Foster Kane) was allegedly a barely fictionalized Hearst. Interviews with contemporaries of Hearst and Welles reveal the intense campaign to suppress the film and ultimately ruin the career of its director. Written by Jesse Garon <>

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Release Date:

29 January 1996 (USA)  »

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1.85 : 1
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References Cecilia of the Pink Roses (1918) See more »

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User Reviews

A collision of two powerful men
30 August 2008 | by (Denmark) – See all my reviews

This is a feature-length documentary found on the DVD of Citizen Kane(not to be confused with the actual TV picture of a few years later, RKO 281, in spite of the latter sharing the title and evidently at least some of the premise). It's well-produced throughout and leaves little to be desired. It is more about the life and accomplishments of Hearst than Welles, but that can be argued as fitting, as that was whom the film in question was intended to be a biography of(if it turned out to be a bit of a misunderstood attempt at so, masterful effort though it is, and in the end actually is closer to the real persona, past and then-future of its maker). We are given a lot of insight into both of them, who they were, what drove them, their triumphs and defeat. It's all told rather well, with clips of the movie itself(as well as others, where it fits), interviews, past as well as current, with those who worked with them(and even one of Orson himself, from '82), footage from behind the scenes, stills and narration. A number of the many shocks the two caused, including the (in)famous War of the Worlds broadcast, are detailed, with witness accounts where possible. It's well-written and put together with expertise. This alone ought to be a strong point in favor of owning a copy of the piece itself. I recommend this to anyone who wants to know about one and/or the other of the mighty people, the controversy and their clash. 8/10

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