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>
As the film starts, John Malkovich as Mankiewicz is berating Welles because of his doomed ideas for movies: '"Heart of Darkness"? Million-dollar budget? No-one wants to see that!' A few years earlier, Malkovich had starred as Kurtz in Heart of Darkness (1993), an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novel. See more »
Both Hearst and Louella Parsons make veiled anti-Semitic threats in the movie. The claim may be made that these comments (which were reported on but, contrary to the film, did not actually appear in print) were intended as a tactic, but Hearst has not been accused of anti-Semitism. In fact, his newspapers were among the few, a couple of years later, to expose the Holocaust while it was ongoing and demand that action be taken.
The movie also claims that Walt Disney had fascist sympathies. This movie is not the first to make that claim, but it is based on very weak evidence. Disney was a conservative (although he largely became one after 1940), but hardly a fascist. See more »
fascinating film for fans of Welles, who of course will tear it to shreds
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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