American Experience (1988– )
15 user 7 critic

The Battle Over Citizen Kane 

Documentary about the battle between Orson Welles and William Randolph Hearst over Welles' Citizen Kane (1941). Features interviews with Welles' and Hearst's co-workers also as a relative complete bio of Hearst.
Nominated for 1 Oscar. Another 1 nomination. See more awards »




Episode credited cast:
William Alland William Alland ... Himself
Thomas Anderson Thomas Anderson ... Himself
Peter Bogdanovich ... Himself
Jimmy Breslin ... Himself
Richard Ben Cramer ... Narrator (voice)
Marion Davies ... Herself (archive footage)
Leonard de Paur Leonard de Paur ... Himself
Douglas Fairbanks Jr. ... Himself
Richard France ... Himself
William Randolph Hearst ... Himself (archive footage)
William Herz William Herz ... Himself
Sam Leve Sam Leve ... Himself
Norman Lloyd ... Himself
Nancy Loe Nancy Loe ... Herself
Frank Mankiewicz ... Himself


This documentary, produced for PBS' _"American Experience, The" (1988)_ series, chronicles the struggles between filmmaker Orson Welles and newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst over the making and release of Citizen Kane (1941), whose protagonist (Charles Foster Kane) was allegedly a barely fictionalized Hearst. Interviews with contemporaries of Hearst and Welles reveal the intense campaign to suppress the film and ultimately ruin the career of its director. Written by Jesse Garon <>

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Release Date:

29 January 1996 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


This documentary was the basis for the 1999 HBO movie RKO 281 which chronicles the origin and making of Welles and Mankiewicz's masterpiece Citizen Kane. See more »


References The War of the Worlds (1953) See more »

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User Reviews

A well-made, insightful documentary
31 May 2001 | by lvbernardSee all my reviews

More than simply an account of the making of America's (arguably) greatest film, THE BATTLE OVER CITIZEN KANE studies the oddly parallel personalities behind the movie, as well as the politics of Hollywood circa 1940. Originally broadcast on PBS' AMERICAN EXPERIENCE series (one of the better things on American TV), it may pale in comparison to other arts documentaries but gives worthwhile insight to two of America's most complex and protean figures.

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