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RKO 281 (1999)

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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 »
Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 13 wins & 27 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Louella Parsons
Gregg Toland
Louis B. Mayer
Hedda Hopper
Carole Lombard
Walt Disney
Simeon Andrews ...
John Houseman
Bill Armstrong ...
Mr. Lewis (as William Armstrong)
Darryl Zanuck
David O. Selznick


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)
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Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

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Did You Know?


The film depicts Orson Welles meeting William Randolph Hearst whilst a guest at the latter's home, San Simeon. In reality, Welles never went there, and never met Hearst until after Citizen Kane (1941) had opened. (Their one, brief meeting was in a San Francisco elevator, according to Welles; there were no others present, and it may be that Welles made up the story and never actually met Hearst). See more »


When Orson is sketching a picture during the orchestra scene, he draws a semi-circle around the head of a lone figure on his sketch pad. When the scene cuts to the next part, the circle is not there. See more »


Herman Mankiewicz: Listen to me, you child. He doesn't worry about legalities. Do you know why? Because he has more power than you could even hope to imagine.
Orson Welles: All the more reason to do it.
Herman Mankiewicz: Because he insulted you at a dinner party?
Orson Welles: Because he's a hypocrite. Because he's a... a real turncoat. Because he claims to care about the common man when nothing could be further from the truth.
Herman Mankiewicz: Oh, he's a journalist. He owns Hollywood. We're the shit on his shoes. You better go back to Broadway, kiddo.
Orson Welles: I expected more from ...
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References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »


I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
Written by George Bassman and Ned Washington
See more »

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User Reviews

entertaining, but seems too simple
2 October 2001 | by See all my reviews

I didn't know the history of the making of Citizen Kane, and while I enjoyed this movie quite a bit, I still doubt that I know much about it. The movie is attractive, I imagine that it's more or less factually correct, and the cast is generally good, but it doesn't feel "real". Hardly anything is ever as black and white as most of the movie, and even more to the point, the character doesn't manage to capture any of the "zing" that Wells had even as an old man. It's fun, but don't expect too much...

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