7.1/10
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51 user 27 critic

RKO 281 (1999)

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2:49 | Trailer

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Orson Welles produces his greatest film, Citizen Kane (1941), despite the opposition of the film's de facto subject, William Randolph Hearst.

Director:

Benjamin Ross

Writers:

John Logan, Richard Ben Cramer (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:
Liev Schreiber ... Orson Welles
James Cromwell ... William Randolph Hearst
Melanie Griffith ... Marion Davies
John Malkovich ... Herman Mankiewicz
Brenda Blethyn ... Louella Parsons
Roy Scheider ... George Schaefer
Liam Cunningham ... Gregg Toland
David Suchet ... Louis B. Mayer
Fiona Shaw ... Hedda Hopper
Anastasia Hille ... Carole Lombard
Roger Allam ... Walt Disney
Simeon Andrews Simeon Andrews ... John Houseman
Bill Armstrong Bill Armstrong ... Mr. Lewis (as William Armstrong)
Jay Benedict ... Darryl Zanuck
Ron Berglas ... 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

Taglines:

The true, behind-the-scenes story of the making of the greatest movie of all time, Citizen Kane. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some graphic sexual images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 November 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

RKO 281: The Battle Over Citizen Kane See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

16:9
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

Louella Parsons storms out of a screening of "Citizen Kane" before it's finished. However, she later tells Hearst that "Rosebud" is a sled, even though that fact is only revealed in the last moment of the film. See more »

Quotes

Orson Welles: Who are these men you're afraid of? Who are these tiny fucking men? They're accountants.
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Connections

Featured in Captured on Film: The True Story of Marion Davies (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

By the Fireside
Written by Ray Noble, Jimmy Campbell and Reginald Connelly (as Reg Connelly)
Performed by Al Bowlly with Ray Noble and His Orchestra
Courtesy of Castle Music Ltd. by arrangement with Celebrity Licensing, Inc.
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User Reviews

 
fascinating film for fans of Welles, who of course will tear it to shreds
9 December 2004 | by cheroldSee 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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