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

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What went on the screen was nothing compared to what went on behind the scenes. 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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Technical Specs

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Aspect Ratio:

16:9
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Did You Know?

Trivia

In the shot of Orson cutting the Citizen Kane script, one of Kane's lines is "Who knows what lurks in the hearts of evil men? The Shadow knows!" This was the classic introduction played at the beginning of every episode of Welles' famous radio program, "The Shadow". See more »

Goofs

Just before Welles throws the drink in Mank's face and he falls into the pond, the camera angle changes, and Mank's shirt switches from neatly pressed to severely wrinkled, showing that he had already fallen into the pond in previous takes. See more »

Quotes

[Addressing the RKO shareholders]
Orson Welles: Good afternoon. Today, a man from Germany invaded Greece. He's already swallowed Poland, Denmark, Norway and Belgium. He's bombing London as I speak. Everywhere this man goes, he crushes the life and the freedom of his subjects. He sews yellow stars on their lapels, he takes their voices. In this country, we still have our voices. We can argue with them, and we can sing, and we can be heard because we are, for the moment, free. No one can tell us what to say or ...
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Connections

References Stagecoach (1939) See more »

Soundtracks

Chattanooga Choo Choo
Written by Harry Warren and Mack Gordon
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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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