RKO 281 (1999)

TV Movie  |  R  |   |  Biography, Drama  |  20 November 1999 (USA)
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Orson Welles produces his greatest film, Citizen Kane (1941), despite the opposition of the film's de facto subject, William Randolph Hearst.



, (documentary "The Battle Over Citizen Kane"), 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 13 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
George Schaefer
Anastasia Hille ...
Simeon Andrews ...
William Armstrong ...
Mr. Lewis
Jay Benedict ...


Coming to Hollywood as a celebrated boy genius featuring a spectacular career arc in New York including his radio hoax War of the Worlds, Orson Welles is stymied on the subject for his first film. After a dinner party at Hearst Castle, during which he has a verbal altercation with William Randolph Hearst, Welles decides to do a movie about Hearst. It takes him some time to convince co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz and the studio, but Welles eventually gets the script and the green light, keeping the subject very hush-hush with the press. The movie is about an aging newspaper publisher who controlled his enemies as ruthlessly as he controlled his friends; and whose mistress was destined for fame. When a rough cut is screened, Hearst gets wind of the movie's theme and begins a campaign to see that it is not only never publicly screened, but destroyed. Written by Greg Bulmash <greg@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Orson Welles used all his genius to create "Citizen Kane". William Randolph Hearst used all his power to try and destroy it. See more »


Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some graphic sexual images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

20 November 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

RKO 281: The Battle Over Citizen Kane  »

Box Office


$12,000,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

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Did You Know?


The size of the principal actors had to be modified for their roles. Liev Schreiber, who stands 6'3", had to bulk up to portray Orson Welles, while John Malkovich, who stands about 6'1" (a full head taller than the real Herman J. Mankiewicz), had to be made to look much slighter and smaller than usual. James Cromwell, who stands a towering 6'7", was surrounded by actors in lifts, as the real William Randolph Hearst was about 6'3" or 6'4". See more »


Louella Parsons storms out of a screening of "Citizen Kane" before it's finished. However, she later tells Hearst that "Rosebud" is a sled, even though that fact is only revealed in the last moment of the film. See more »


Herman Mankiewicz: What about Marion?
Orson Welles: Another animal in his zoo.
Herman Mankiewicz: That is love to him. "I love you, I built you a beautiful cage."
See more »


Featured in The 57th Annual Golden Globe Awards (2000) See more »


I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
Written by George Bassman and Ned Washington
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User Reviews

Fresh look of Citizen Kane
30 May 2000 | by (Toronto, Canada) – See all my reviews

Near perfect movie about the making of CITIZEN KANE does not succeed 100% on document accuracy but for a movie, this is really good! Liev Shreiber plays surprisingly good for Orson although it is hard to detach him from the SCREAM trilogy. If you loved the masterpiece of CITIZEN KANE than maybe the movie is not meant for you. A surprise that this movie would not make it to the larger screen, probably because the target audience is too narrow. Anyone under 18 and/or has not watched the classic may need some guidance as to what the characters are actually saying. If you want a further look into CITIZEN KANE, this is your best bet unless you like the library!

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