7.1/10
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51 user 25 critic

RKO 281 (1999)

Orson Welles produces his greatest film, Citizen Kane (1941), despite the opposition of the film's de facto subject, William Randolph Hearst.

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, (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

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

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

Taglines:

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

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

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

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Details

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Release Date:

20 November 1999 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

RKO 281: The Battle Over Citizen Kane  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)
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Aspect Ratio:

16:9
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

In the formal dinner in which Welles is a guest of Hearst, Welles reveals his purpose for filming a movie about a famous bullfighter. He says he was a child when he sat on the knee of Manolete, the most famous Spanish bullfighter at that time. Actually, Manolete began his career in 1931, when Orson was age sixteen. See more »

Quotes

William Randolph Hearst: There is nothing to understand. Only this: I am a man who could have been great, but was not.
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Connections

References Gold Diggers of 1933 (1933) See more »

Soundtracks

By the Fireside
Written by Ray Noble, Jimmy Campbell and Reginald Connelly (as Reg Connelly)
Performed by Al Bowlly with Ray Noble and His Orchestra
Courtesy of Castle Music Ltd. by arrangement with Celebrity Licensing, Inc.
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User Reviews

 
fascinating film for fans of Welles, who of course will tear it to shreds
9 December 2004 | by See all my reviews

Very interesting movie about the battle to get Citizen Kane made has carved out a tricky niche for itself; the movie is going to be most interesting to fans of Welles and Kane, and those people are going to have such specific expectations about what the movie should be that they can't be satisfied.

I see a number of reviews here complaining that this movie doesn't show why Kane was a great movie, but that's not the movie that was being made. It is a short movie about a specific struggle, with brief glimpses into the filming, and unless it had been titled, "RKO 281: The Making of Citizen Kane," you can't fault it for not spending an hour on Welles innovations.

The film is entertaining, Schreiber is a good Welles and Malkovitch is also quite good. I note people also complain that the movie isn't all that accurate. I do wish the film had done a better job with Marian Davies, as one hears her described as fantastically charming and loved by Hollywood (it has been said that Welles' flaying of Davies did more to bring out the knives of the Hollywood press than his portrayal of Hearst). But come on, how can one complain about liberties taking with reality in a movie made about Welles, who loved taking liberties with reality?


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