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RKO 281 (1999)

Trailer
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

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

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 »

Goofs

When Orson is sketching a picture during the orchestra scene, he draws a semi-circle around the head of a lone figure on his sketch pad. When the scene cuts to the next part, the circle is not there. See more »

Quotes

William Randolph Hearst: There is nothing to understand. Only this: I am a man who could have been great, but was not.
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Connections

References Citizen Kane (1941) See more »

Soundtracks

Song of India
Written by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Arrangement by Tommy Dorsey and Red Bone
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User Reviews

 
Glimpses of Greatness, Greed and Grandeur
21 December 2011 | by Alan TrevennorSee all my reviews

If you are into vintage movies, vintage America and conspiracy theories, then this is an entertainment for you.

Many other reviews here have outlined the strengths and weaknesses of the film re the truth about the making of Kane, and the relative attributions of credit, blame and opprobrium. I'd like to inject a good word for Roy Scheider's portrayal of RKO boss George Schaefer: His character's struggle to find the right balance between keeping his east coast money men happy, his obvious liking for Welles and the desire to make good movies is very well portrayed.

Something I really enjoyed was the portrayal of Welles' and Mank's visit to the Hearst Castle at San Simeon, California. That is a fascinating place, which saw so many famous and talented people visit during Hearst's time there. There's a movie about the lifetime of that place to be made by someone, though I don't think anyone has ever attempted it? Apparently they didn't use the real location for RKO281 - a lot of it seems to have been done in London. Was that cost, or did the Hearst Castle trustees refuse....? Anyway, if you're up for a good tale woven around some known facts, but not sticking to them too tightly, take the RKO281 ride, you'll have fun. Just don't let it become your true picture of Mr Welles, Mr Hearst or (most of all) Mr Mankiewicz.


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