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 <email@example.com>
The film shows RKO production chief George Schaefer announcing to Orson Welles and Herman Mankiewicz that he has lost his job on the very day of the opening of Citizen Kane (1941) in May 1941. In fact, Schaefer did not get fired until late in the following year, and this was less because he had promoted the film career of Orson Welles than because almost all the films RKO had made during his tenure had been flops. See more »
Welles claimed that he did indeed meet Hearst in an elevator, although many historians doubt this actually happened. In addition, and adding to doubts of the story's veracity, Welles had different versions of the story, neither of which precisely matches the scene in the movie. In one, Hearst recognized Welles but did not say a word; at the end of the trip, Welles stated that "Kane would at least have said 'Hello,'" buy Hearst still did not respond. In another version, Welles offered a silent Hearst tickets to see Citizen Kane (not on opening night, as depicted here, perhaps leading to Hearst suspecting the offer was not genuine) and got no response, leading to Welles' comment as shown in this movie. See more »
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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