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Citizen Kane (1941)

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Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.

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(original screen play), (original screen play)
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1,368 ( 213)
Top Rated Movies #71 | Won 1 Oscar. Another 9 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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William Alland ...
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Gus Schilling ...
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Miss Anderson
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Storyline

A group of reporters are trying to decipher the last word ever spoken by Charles Foster Kane, the millionaire newspaper tycoon: "Rosebud". The film begins with a news reel detailing Kane's life for the masses, and then from there, we are shown flashbacks from Kane's life. As the reporters investigate further, the viewers see a display of a fascinating man's rise to fame, and how he eventually fell off the top of the world. Written by Zack H.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

365 days in the making - and every minute of it an exciting NEW thrill for you ! See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery

Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Official Sites:

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

5 September 1941 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

American  »

Filming Locations:

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Box Office

Budget:

$839,727 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$216,239, 5 May 1991, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$1,585,634
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Ruth Warrick, Orson Welles was not in good shape at the beginning of production. When principal photography began, Welles was suffering from the effects of caffeine poisoning as the result of consuming thirty to forty cups of coffee a day. Welles then switched to tea, figuring that the hassle of having to brew the beverage would naturally limit his intake. But Welles had someone on call to brew the tea for him, and within two weeks, Welles was the colour of tannic acid. It was also reported that he would go for long periods without eating, then put away two or three large steaks with side items at one sitting. See more »

Goofs

When Susan is reading the news about her debut, the front page is displayed prominently. While the first paragraph or so of each story is indeed about her performance, the rest of the news stories are obviously not (with the exception of Jed Leland's negative review). See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Charles Foster Kane: Rosebud...
See more »

Crazy Credits

The film's opening title card is presented in complete silence, briefly with no music. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Animaniacs: The Warners' 65th Anniversary Special (1994) See more »

Soundtracks

Theme
(uncredited)
from RKO's Five Came Back (1939)
Music by Roy Webb
Performed in a "News On The March" sequence
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
All That Ballyhoo!

On the Criterion Collection DVD of Orson Welles' classic "Citizen Kane" there is an original theatrical trailer where Welles cleverly advertises the film by introducing us to the cast including the chorus girls, whom he refers to as some nice ballyhoo. That pretty much sums up my opinion of the often over analyzed film that always shows up at the top of the list of greatest films ever made. Even though this was the first time I sat down to watch the film as a whole, I knew everything about it from studying it in film class and from the countless number of essays, homages, and parodies that have come down the pike over the years. It seems impossible now to judge the film against a blank slate, but with great ballyhoo comes great scrutiny.

Released in 1941 by RKO as a Mercury Theater Production, "Citizen Kane" is the tale of an influential and shockingly wealthy newspaper tycoon (Welles) inspired by the life of William Randolph Hearst. The story follows the investigation into the origins of "Rosebud"-the mysterious word Kane utters on his deathbed. Following newsreel footage announcing Kane's death, we are then thrust into a series of flashbacks through interviews with various people who knew Kane that reveal the nature of his character.

From a technical standpoint, Welles' film is as innovative and engrossing today as it was yesterday. Every single piece of cinematic trickery, every dissolve, every long tracking shot, every seamless edit, every play with chronology, every special effect is perfect. Welles was audacious and inventive with his art, and it is for these technical aspects that "Citizen Kane" will always stand the test of time.

However, the story of "Citizen Kane" remains cold and distant. I didn't instantly connect with the characters and the plot the way I did with other classics from the period like "Casablanca" or "The Third Man" or even more recently, "There Will Be Blood." Often, the supporting players over-act, and the flashbacks are tedious (especially the one detailing Kane's second marriage) or emotionless (like the scene showing Kane's snow covered childhood). There's a certain smug arrogance to the whole production that makes it seem like perhaps Welles was secretly making a comedy. It leaves one wondering how it would've come across had Welles actually been allowed to do a straight up biopic of Hearst.

Is it any wonder that so many critics today hail this as THE all time great? Much of today's cinema is geared towards style and technique over substance, and way back in 1941, Welles was the first to author this very modern brand of cinema where the art is not in the story but how it is told and shown to the audience. His "Citizen Kane" is technically rich, layered, and enthralling but narratively vapid. Did I ever really care about Kane or Rosebud? No, but it was fascinating to watch. It's some very nice ballyhoo indeed.


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