Citizen Kane is a 1941 American mystery drama film by Orson Welles,
its producer, co-screenwriter, director and star. The picture was
Welles's first feature film. Nominated for Academy Awards in nine
categories, it won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original
Herman J. Mankiewicz
Herman J. Mankiewicz and Welles. Considered by many
critics, filmmakers, and fans to be the greatest film of all time,
Citizen Kane was voted as such in five consecutive British Film
Institute Sight & Sound polls of critics, until it was displaced
by Vertigo in the 2012 poll. It topped the American Film Institute's
100 Years ... 100 Movies list in 1998, as well as its 2007
Citizen Kane is particularly praised for its cinematography,
music, editing and narrative structure, which have been considered
innovative and precedent-setting.
The quasi-biographical film examines the life and legacy of Charles
Foster Kane, played by Welles, a character based in part upon the
American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Chicago tycoons
Samuel Insull and Harold McCormick, and aspects of Welles's own life.
Upon its release, Hearst prohibited mention of the film in any of his
newspapers. Kane's career in the publishing world is born of
idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless
pursuit of power. Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story
is told through the research of a newsreel reporter seeking to solve
the mystery of the newspaper magnate's dying word: "Rosebud".
After the Broadway successes of Welles's
Mercury Theatre and the
controversial 1938 radio broadcast "The War of the Worlds" on The
Mercury Theatre on the Air, Welles was courted by Hollywood. He signed
a contract with
RKO Pictures in 1939. Unusually for an untried
director, he was given the freedom to develop his own story, to use
his own cast and crew, and to have final cut privilege. Following two
abortive attempts to get a project off the ground, he wrote the
screenplay for Citizen Kane, collaborating on the effort with Herman
Principal photography took place in 1940 and the film
received its American release in 1941.
While a critical success,
Citizen Kane failed to recoup its costs at
the box office. The film faded from view after its release but was
subsequently returned to the public's attention when it was praised by
such French critics as
André Bazin and given an American revival in
1956. The film was released on
Blu-ray on September 13, 2011, for a
special 70th anniversary edition.
6.1 Storytelling techniques
7.1 Political themes
8.1 Pre-release controversy
8.2 Hearst's response
8.4 Contemporary responses
9.1 Release in Europe
9.4 Film memorabilia
10 Rights and home video
10.1 Colorization controversy
11 See also
15 External links
Favored to win election as governor, Kane makes a campaign speech at
Madison Square Garden
The affair between Kane and Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore) is
exposed by his political opponent, Boss Jim W. Gettys (Ray Collins)
In a mansion in Xanadu, a vast palatial estate in Florida, the elderly
Charles Foster Kane
Charles Foster Kane is on his deathbed. Holding a snow globe, he
utters a word, "Rosebud", and dies; the globe slips from his hand and
smashes on the floor. A newsreel obituary tells the life story of
Kane, an enormously wealthy newspaper publisher. Kane's death becomes
sensational news around the world, and the newsreel's producer tasks
reporter Jerry Thompson with discovering the meaning of "Rosebud".
Thompson sets out to interview Kane's friends and associates. He
approaches Kane's second wife, Susan Alexander Kane, now an alcoholic
who runs her own nightclub, but she refuses to talk to him. Thompson
goes to the private archive of the late banker Walter Parks Thatcher.
Through Thatcher's written memoirs, Thompson learns that Kane's
childhood began in poverty in Colorado.
In 1871, after a gold mine is discovered on her property, Kane's
mother Mary Kane sends Charles away to live with Thatcher so that he
would be properly educated. It is also implied that Kane's father
could be violent towards his son and that is another reason she would
like to send him away. While Thatcher and Charles' parents discuss
arrangements inside, the young Kane plays happily with a sled in the
snow outside his parents' boarding-house and protests being sent to
live with Thatcher. Furious at the prospect of exile from his own
family to live with a man he does not know, the boy strikes Thatcher
with his sled and attempts to run away.
Years later, after gaining full control over his trust fund at the age
of 25, Kane enters the newspaper business and embarks on a career of
yellow journalism. He takes control of the New York Inquirer and
starts publishing scandalous articles that attack Thatcher's business
interests. After the stock market crash in 1929, Kane is forced to
sell controlling interest of his newspaper empire to Thatcher.
Back in the present, Thompson interviews Kane's personal business
manager, Mr. Bernstein. Bernstein recalls how Kane hired the best
journalists available to build the Inquirer's circulation. Kane rose
to power by successfully manipulating public opinion regarding the
Spanish–American War and marrying Emily Norton, the niece of a
President of the United States.
Thompson interviews Kane's estranged best friend, Jedediah Leland, in
a retirement home. Leland recalls how Kane's marriage to Emily
disintegrates more and more over the years, and he begins an affair
with amateur singer Susan Alexander while he is running for Governor
of New York. Both his wife and his political opponent discover the
affair and the public scandal ends his political career. Kane marries
Susan and forces her into a humiliating operatic career for which she
has neither the talent nor the ambition.
Back in the present, Susan now consents to an interview with Thompson,
and recalls her failed opera career. Kane finally allows her to
abandon her singing career after she attempts suicide. After years
spent dominated by Kane and living in isolation at Xanadu, Susan
leaves Kane. Kane's butler Raymond recounts that, after Susan leaves
him, Kane begins violently destroying the contents of her bedroom. He
suddenly calms down when he sees a snow globe and says, "Rosebud".
Back at Xanadu, Kane's belongings are being cataloged or discarded.
Thompson concludes that he is unable to solve the mystery and that the
meaning of Kane's last word will forever remain an enigma. As the film
ends, the camera reveals that "Rosebud" is the trade name of the sled
on which the eight-year-old Kane was playing on the day that he was
taken from his home in Colorado. Thought to be junk by Xanadu's staff,
the sled is burned in a furnace.
George Coulouris and Agnes Moorehead
Orson Welles and Everett Sloane
Dorothy Comingore and Orson Welles
Ray Collins, Dorothy Comingore,
Orson Welles and Ruth Warrick
The beginning of the film's ending credits state that "Most of the
principal actors in
Citizen Kane are new to motion pictures. The
Mercury Theatre is proud to introduce them." The cast is listed in
the following order:
Joseph Cotten as Jedediah Leland, Kane's best friend and a reporter
for The Inquirer. Cotten also appears (hidden in darkness) in the News
on the March screening room.
Dorothy Comingore as Susan Alexander Kane, Kane's mistress and second
Agnes Moorehead as Mary Kane, Kane's mother.
Ruth Warrick as Emily Monroe Norton Kane, Kane's first wife.
Ray Collins as Jim W. Gettys, Kane's political rival and the incumbent
governor of New York.
Erskine Sanford as Herbert Carter, editor of The Inquirer. Sanford
also appears (hidden in darkness) in the News on the March screening
Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein, Kane's friend and employee at The
William Alland as Jerry Thompson, a reporter for News on the March.
Alland also voices the narrator of the News on the March newsreel.
Paul Stewart as Raymond, Kane's butler.
George Coulouris as Walter Parks Thatcher, a banker who becomes Kane's
Fortunio Bonanova as Signor Matiste, vocal coach of Susan Alexander
Gus Schilling as John, headwaiter at the El Rancho nightclub.
Schilling also appears (hidden in darkness) in the News on the March
Philip Van Zandt
Philip Van Zandt as Mr. Rawlston, News on the March producer.
Georgia Backus as Bertha Anderson, attendant at the library of Walter
Harry Shannon as Jim Kane, Kane's father.
Sonny Bupp as
Charles Foster Kane
Charles Foster Kane III, Kane's son.
Buddy Swan as Charles Foster Kane, age eight.
Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane, a wealthy newspaper publisher.
Additionally, Charles Bennett appears as the entertainer at the head
of the chorus line in the Inquirer party sequence,:40–41 and
Gregg Toland makes a cameo appearance as an
interviewer depicted in part of the News on the March newsreel. Actor
Alan Ladd makes a cameo appearance as a reporter smoking a pipe at the
end of the film.
Welles's 1938 radio broadcast of "The War of the Worlds" caught the
attention of RKO
Hollywood had shown interest in Welles as early as 1936.:40 He
turned down three scripts sent to him by
Warner Bros. In 1937, he
declined offers from David O. Selznick, who asked him to head his film
company's story department, and William Wyler, who wanted him for a
supporting role in Wuthering Heights. "Although the possibility of
making huge amounts of money in Hollywood greatly attracted him,"
wrote biographer Frank Brady, "he was still totally, hopelessly,
insanely in love with the theater, and it is there that he had every
intention of remaining to make his mark.":118–119, 130
Following "The War of the Worlds" broadcast of his
CBS radio series
Mercury Theatre on the Air, Welles was lured to Hollywood with a
remarkable contract.:1–2, 153
RKO Pictures studio head George J.
Schaefer wanted to work with Welles after the notorious broadcast,
believing that Welles had a gift for attracting mass
attention.:170 RKO was also uncharacteristically profitable and
was entering into a series of independent production contracts that
would add more artistically prestigious films to its
roster.:1–2, 153 Throughout the spring and early summer of 1939,
Schaefer constantly tried to lure the reluctant Welles to
Hollywood.:170 Welles was in financial trouble after failure of
his plays Five Kings and The Green Goddess. At first he simply wanted
to spend three months in Hollywood and earn enough money to pay his
debts and fund his next theatrical season.:170 Welles first
arrived on July 20, 1939:168 and on his first tour, he called the
movie studio "the greatest electric train set a boy ever had".:174
Welles signed his contract with RKO on August 21. This legendary
contract stipulated that Welles would act in, direct, produce and
write two films. Mercury would get $100,000 for the first film by
January 1, 1940, plus 20% of profits after RKO recouped $500,000, and
$125,000 for a second film by January 1, 1941, plus 20% of profits
after RKO recouped $500,000. The most controversial aspect of the
contract was granting Welles complete artistic control of the two
films so long as RKO approved both project's stories:169 and so
long as the budget did not exceed $500,000.:1–2, 153 RKO
executives would not be allowed to see any footage until Welles chose
to show it to them, and no cuts could be made to either film without
Welles's approval.:169 Welles was allowed to develop the story
without interference, select his own cast and crew, and have the right
of final cut. Granting final cut privilege was unprecedented for a
studio since it placed artistic considerations over financial
investment. The contract was deeply resented in the film industry, and
the Hollywood press took every opportunity to mock RKO and Welles.
Schaefer remained a great supporter:1–2, 153 and saw the
unprecedented contract as good publicity.:170 Film scholar Robert
L. Carringer wrote: "The simple fact seems to be that Schaefer
believed Welles was going to pull off something really big almost as
much as Welles did himself.":1–2, 153
Orson Welles at his Hollywood home in 1939, during the long months it
took to launch his first film project
Welles spent the first five months of his RKO contract trying to get
his first project going, without success. "They are laying bets over
on the RKO lot that the
Orson Welles deal will end up without Orson
ever doing a picture there," wrote The Hollywood Reporter.:15 It
was agreed that Welles would film Heart of Darkness, previously
adapted for The
Mercury Theatre on the Air, which would be presented
entirely through a first-person camera. After elaborate pre-production
and a day of test shooting with a hand-held camera—unheard of at the
time—the project never reached production because Welles was unable
to trim $50,000 from its budget.[a][b]:30–31 Schaefer told
Welles that the $500,000 budget could not be exceeded; as war loomed,
revenue was declining sharply in Europe by the fall of
He then started work on the idea that became Citizen Kane. Knowing the
script would take time to prepare, Welles suggested to RKO that while
that was being done—"so the year wouldn't be lost"—he make a
humorous political thriller. Welles proposed The Smiler with a Knife,
from a novel by Cecil Day-Lewis.:33–34 When that project stalled
in December 1939, Welles began brainstorming other story ideas with
screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who had been writing Mercury radio
scripts. "Arguing, inventing, discarding, these two powerful,
headstrong, dazzlingly articulate personalities thrashed toward Kane",
wrote biographer Richard Meryman.:245–246
Main article: Screenplay for Citizen Kane
Herman J. Mankiewicz
Herman J. Mankiewicz co-wrote the script in early 1940. He and Welles
separately re-wrote and revised each other's work until Welles was
satisfied with the finished product.
Pauline Kael's controversial essay "Raising Kane" was published in The
New Yorker and in The
Citizen Kane Book (1971).
One of the long-standing controversies about
Citizen Kane has been the
authorship of the screenplay.:237 Welles conceived the project
with screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who was writing radio plays
CBS Radio series, The Campbell Playhouse.:16
Mankiewicz based the original outline on the life of William Randolph
Hearst, whom he knew socially and came to hate after being exiled from
In February 1940 Welles supplied Mankiewicz with 300 pages of notes
and put him under contract to write the first draft screenplay under
the supervision of John Houseman, Welles's former partner in the
Mercury Theatre. Welles later explained, "I left him on his own
finally, because we'd started to waste too much time haggling. So,
after mutual agreements on storyline and character, Mank went off with
Houseman and did his version, while I stayed in Hollywood and wrote
mine.":54 Taking these drafts, Welles drastically condensed and
rearranged them, then added scenes of his own. The industry accused
Welles of underplaying Mankiewicz's contribution to the script, but
Welles countered the attacks by saying, "At the end, naturally, I was
the one making the picture, after all—who had to make the decisions.
I used what I wanted of Mank's and, rightly or wrongly, kept what I
liked of my own.":54
The terms of the contract stated that Mankiewicz was to receive no
credit for his work, as he was hired as a script doctor.:487
Before he signed the contract Mankiewicz was particularly advised by
his agents that all credit for his work belonged to Welles and the
Mercury Theatre, the "author and creator".:236–237 As the film
neared release, however, Mankiewicz began threatening Welles to get
credit for the film—including threats to place full-page ads in
trade papers and to get his friend
Ben Hecht to write an exposé for
The Saturday Evening Post. Mankiewicz also threatened to go to the
Screen Writers Guild and claim full credit for writing the entire
script by himself.:204
After lodging a protest with the Screen Writers Guild, Mankiewicz
withdrew it, then vacillated. The question was resolved in January
1941 when the studio, RKO Pictures, awarded Mankiewicz credit. The
guild credit form listed Welles first, Mankiewicz second. Welles's
assistant Richard Wilson said that the person who circled Mankiewicz's
name in pencil, then drew an arrow that put it in first place, was
Welles. The official credit reads, "Screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz
and Orson Welles".:264–265 Mankiewicz's rancor toward Welles
grew over the remaining 12 years of his life.:498
Questions over the authorship of the
Citizen Kane screenplay were
revived in 1971 by influential film critic Pauline Kael, whose
controversial 50,000-word essay "Raising Kane" was commissioned as an
introduction to the shooting script in The
Citizen Kane Book,:494
published in October 1971. The book-length essay first appeared in
February 1971, in two consecutive issues of The New Yorker
magazine.:494 In the ensuing controversy Welles was defended
by colleagues, critics, biographers and scholars, but his reputation
was damaged by its charges.:394 The essay was later discredited
and Kael's own scholarship was called into question.
Any question of authorship was resolved with Carringer's 1978 essay,
"The Scripts of Citizen Kane".[c] Carringer studied the collection
of script records—"almost a day-to-day record of the history of the
scripting"—that was then still intact at RKO. He reviewed all seven
drafts and concluded that "the full evidence reveals that Welles's
contribution to the
Citizen Kane script was not only substantial but
Main article: Sources for Citizen Kane
Although various sources were used as a model for Kane, William
Randolph Hearst was the primary inspiration.
Hearst was disturbed by the film's supposed depiction of Marion
Davies, but Welles always denied that Susan Alexander Kane was based
Welles never confirmed a principal source for the character of Charles
Foster Kane. Houseman wrote that Kane is a synthesis of different
personalities, with Hearst's life used as the main source. Some events
and details were invented,:444 and Houseman wrote that he and
Mankiewicz also "grafted anecdotes from other giants of journalism,
including Pulitzer, Northcliffe and Mank's first boss, Herbert Bayard
Swope.":444 Welles said, "Mr. Hearst was quite a bit like Kane,
although Kane isn't really founded on Hearst in particular, many
people sat for it so to speak".:78 He specifically acknowledged
that aspects of Kane were drawn from the lives of two business tycoons
familiar from his youth in Chicago—
Samuel Insull and Harold Fowler
The character of Jedediah Leland was based on drama critic Ashton
Stevens, George Stevens's uncle and Welles's close boyhood
friend.:66 Some detail came from Mankiewicz's own experience as a
drama critic in New York.:77–78
The assumption that the character of Susan Alexander Kane was based on
Marion Davies was a major reason Hearst tried to destroy Citizen
Kane.[e] Welles denied that the character was based on Davies,
whom he called "an extraordinary woman—nothing like the character
Dorothy Comingore played in the movie.":49 He cited Insull's
building of the Chicago Opera House, and McCormick's lavish promotion
of the opera career of his second wife, Ganna Walska, as direct
influences on the screenplay.:49
The character of political boss Jim W. Gettys is based on Charles F.
Murphy, a leader in New York City's infamous
Tammany Hall political
Welles credited "Rosebud" to Mankiewicz.:53 Biographer Richard
Meryman wrote that the symbol of Mankiewicz's own damaged childhood
was a treasured bicycle, stolen while he visited the public library
and not replaced by his family as punishment. He regarded it as the
prototype of Charles Foster Kane's sled.:300 In his 2015 Welles
biography, Patrick McGilligan reported that Mankiewicz himself stated
that the word "Rosebud" was taken from the name of a famous racehorse,
Old Rosebud. Mankiewicz had a bet on the horse in the 1914 Kentucky
Derby, which he won, and McGilligan wrote that "
Old Rosebud symbolized
his lost youth, and the break with his family". In testimony for the
Lundberg suit, Mankiewicz said, "I had undergone psycho-analysis, and
Rosebud, under circumstances slightly resembling the circumstances in
[Citizen Kane], played a prominent part." Other modern claims that
the term was a nickname Hearst used for Davies' clitoris were rejected
by Houseman and dismissed by Brady.:287
The News on the March sequence that begins the film satirizes the
journalistic style of The March of Time, the news documentary and
dramatization series presented in movie theaters by Time Inc.
From 1935 to 1938:47 Welles was a member of the uncredited company
of actors that presented the original radio version.:77
Houseman claimed that banker Walter P. Thatcher was loosely based on
J. P. Morgan.:55 Bernstein was named for Dr. Maurice Bernstein,
appointed Welles's guardian;:65–66 Sloane's portrayal was said
to be based on Bernard Herrmann. Herbert Carter, editor of The
Inquirer, was named for actor Jack Carter.:155
Mercury Theatre was an independent repertory theatre company
Orson Welles and
John Houseman in 1937. The company
produced theatrical presentations, radio programs, films, promptbooks
and phonographic recordings.
Citizen Kane was a rare film in that its principal roles were played
by actors new to motion pictures. Ten were billed as Mercury Actors,
members of the skilled repertory company assembled by Welles for the
stage and radio performances of the Mercury Theatre, an independent
theater company he founded with Houseman in 1937.:119–120 "He
loved to use the Mercury players," wrote biographer Charles Higham,
"and consequently he launched several of them on movie
The film represents the feature film debuts of William Alland, Ray
Collins, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Erskine Sanford, Everett
Sloane, Paul Stewart, and Welles himself. Despite never having
appeared in feature films, some of the cast members were already well
known to the public. Cotten had recently become a Broadway star in the
hit play The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn:187 and
Sloane was well known for his role on the radio show The
Goldbergs.:187 [f] Mercury actor
George Coulouris was a star of
the stage in New York and London.
Not all of the cast came from the Mercury Players. Welles cast Dorothy
Comingore, an actress who played supporting parts in films since 1934
using the name "Linda Winters", as Susan Alexander Kane. A
discovery of Charlie Chaplin, Comingore was recommended to Welles by
Chaplin,:170 who then met Comingore at a party in Los Angeles and
immediately cast her.:44
Welles had met stage actress
Ruth Warrick while visiting New York on a
break from Hollywood and remembered her as a good fit for Emily Norton
Kane,:188 later saying that she looked the part.:169 Warrick
told Carringer that she was struck by the extraordinary resemblance
between herself and Welles's mother when she saw a photograph of
Beatrice Ives Welles. She characterized her own personal relationship
with Welles as motherly.:14
"He trained us for films at the same time that he was training
himself," recalled Agnes Moorehead. "Orson believed in good acting,
and he realized that rehearsals were needed to get the most from his
actors. That was something new in Hollywood: nobody seemed interested
in bringing in a group to rehearse before scenes were shot. But Orson
knew it was necessary, and we rehearsed every sequence before it was
The March of Time
The March of Time narrator
Westbrook Van Voorhis asked for
$25,000 to narrate the News on the March sequence, Alland demonstrated
his ability to imitate Van Voorhis and Welles cast him.
Welles later said that casting character actor
Gino Corrado in the
small part of the waiter at the El Rancho broke his heart. Corrado had
appeared in many Hollywood films, often as a waiter, and Welles wanted
all of the actors to be new to films.:171
Other uncredited roles went to
Thomas A. Curran
Thomas A. Curran as Teddy Roosevelt in
the faux newsreel; Richard Baer as Hillman, a man at Madison Square
Garden, and a man in the News on the March screening room; and Alan
Arthur O'Connell and
Louise Currie as reporters at Xanadu.
When Kathryn Trosper Popper died on March 6, 2016, at the age of 100
she was reported to be the last surviving actor to appear in Citizen
Kane. Jean Forward, a soprano who dubbed the singing voice of
Susan Alexander, was the last surviving performer from the film before
her death in 2016. Warrick was the last surviving member of the
principal cast at the time of her death in 2005. Sonny Bupp, who
played Kane's young son, was the last surviving credited cast member
Citizen Kane when he died in 2007.
Sound stage entrance, as seen in the
Citizen Kane trailer
Production advisor Miriam Geiger quickly compiled a handmade film
textbook for Welles, a practical reference book of film techniques
that he studied carefully. He then taught himself filmmaking by
matching its visual vocabulary to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which
he ordered from the Museum of Modern Art,:173 and films by Frank
Capra, René Clair, Fritz Lang, King Vidor:1172:1171 and Jean
Renoir.:209 The one film he genuinely studied was John Ford's
Stagecoach,:29 which he watched 40 times. "As it turned out,
the first day I ever walked onto a set was my first day as a
director," Welles said. "I'd learned whatever I knew in the projection
room—from Ford. After dinner every night for about a month, I'd run
Stagecoach, often with some different technician or department head
from the studio, and ask questions. 'How was this done?' 'Why was this
done?' It was like going to school.":29
Welles's cinematographer for the film was Gregg Toland, described by
Welles as "just then, the number-one cameraman in the world." To
Welles's astonishment, Toland visited him at his office and said, "I
want you to use me on your picture." He had seen some of the Mercury
stage productions (including Caesar:66) and said he wanted to work
with someone who had never made a movie.:59 RKO hired Toland on
loan from Samuel Goldwyn Productions:10 in the first week of June
"And he never tried to impress us that he was doing any miracles,"
Welles recalled. "I was calling for things only a beginner would have
been ignorant enough to think anybody could ever do, and there he was,
doing them.":60 Toland later explained that he wanted to work with
Welles because he anticipated the first time director's inexperience
and reputation for audacious experimentation in the theater would
allow the cinematographer to try new and innovative camera techniques
that typical Hollywood films would never have allowed him to
do.:186 Unaware of filmmaking protocol, Welles adjusted the lights
on set as he was accustomed to doing in the theater; Toland quietly
re-balanced them, and was angry when one of the crew informed Welles
that he was infringing on Toland's responsibilities.:5:33–6:06
During the first few weeks of June, Welles had lengthy discussions
about the film with Toland and art director
Perry Ferguson in the
morning, and in the afternoon and evening he worked with actors and
revised the script.:69
Gregg Toland wanted to work with Welles for the
opportunity of trying experimental camera techniques that other films
did not allow.
On June 29, 1940—a Saturday morning when few inquisitive studio
executives would be around—Welles began filming Citizen
Kane.:69:107 After the disappointment of having Heart of
Darkness cancelled,:30–31 Welles followed Ferguson's
suggestion[g]:57 and deceived RKO into believing that he was
simply shooting camera tests. "But we were shooting the picture,"
Welles said, "because we wanted to get started and be already into it
before anybody knew about it.":57
At the time RKO executives were pressuring him to agree to direct a
film called The Men from Mars, to capitalize on "The War of the
Worlds" radio broadcast. Welles said that he would consider making the
project but wanted to make a different film first. At this time he did
not inform them that he had already begun filming Citizen
The early footage was called "
Orson Welles Tests" on all
paperwork.:69 The first "test" shot was the News on the March
projection room scene, economically filmed in a real studio projection
room in darkness that masked many actors who appeared in other roles
later in the film.:69:77–78[h] "At $809 Orson did run
substantially beyond the test budget of $528—to create one of the
most famous scenes in movie history," wrote Barton Whaley.:107
The next scenes were the El Rancho nightclub scenes and the scene in
which Susan attempts suicide.[i]:69 Welles later said that the
nightclub set was available after another film had wrapped and that
filming took 10 to 12 days to complete. For these scenes Welles had
Comingore's throat sprayed with chemicals to give her voice a harsh,
raspy tone.:170–171 Other scenes shot in secret included those
in which Thompson interviews Leland and Bernstein, which were also
shot on sets built for other films.
During production, the film was referred to as RKO 281. Most of the
filming took place in what is now Stage 19 on the Paramount Pictures
lot in Hollywood. There was some location filming at Balboa Park
in San Diego and the San Diego Zoo.
In the end of July, RKO approved the film and Welles was allowed to
officially begin shooting, despite having already been filming "tests"
for several weeks. Welles leaked stories to newspaper reporters that
the tests had been so good that there was no need to re-shoot them.
The first official scene to be shot was the breakfast montage sequence
between Kane and his first wife Emily. To strategically save money and
appease the RKO executives who opposed him, Welles rehearsed scenes
extensively before actually shooting and filmed very few takes of each
shot set-up.:193 Welles never shot master shots for any scene
after Toland told him that Ford never shot them.:169 To appease
the increasingly curious press, Welles threw a cocktail party for
selected reporters, promising that they could watch a scene being
filmed. When the journalists arrived Welles told them they had "just
finished" shooting for the day but still had the party.:193 Welles
told the press that he was ahead of schedule (without factoring in the
month of "test shooting"), thus discrediting claims that after a year
in Hollywood without making a film he was a failure in the film
Welles fell ten feet while shooting the scene in which Kane shouts at
the departing Boss Jim W. Gettys; his injuries required him to direct
from a wheelchair for two weeks.
Welles usually worked 16 to 18 hours a day on the film. He often began
work at 4 a.m. since the special effects make-up used to age him for
certain scenes took up to four hours to apply. Welles used this time
to discuss the day's shooting with Toland and other crew members. The
special contact lenses used to make Welles look elderly proved very
painful, and a doctor was employed to place them into Welles's eyes.
Welles had difficulty seeing clearly while wearing them, which caused
him to badly cut his wrist when shooting the scene in which Kane
breaks up the furniture in Susan's bedroom. While shooting the scene
in which Kane shouts at Gettys on the stairs of Susan Alexander's
apartment building, Welles fell ten feet; an X-ray revealed two bone
chips in his ankle.:194 The injury required him to direct the film
from a wheelchair for two weeks.:194–195 He eventually wore a
steel brace to resume performing on camera; it is visible in the
low-angle scene between Kane and Leland after Kane loses the
election.[j]:61 For the final scene, a stage at the Selznick
studio was equipped with a working furnace, and multiple takes were
required to show the sled being put into the fire and the word
"Rosebud" consumed. Paul Stewart recalled that on the ninth take the
Culver City Fire Department arrived in full gear because the furnace
had grown so hot the flue caught fire. "Orson was delighted with the
commotion", he said.:8–9
When "Rosebud" was burned, Welles choreographed the scene while he had
composer Bernard Herrmann's cue playing on the set.
Unlike Schaefer, many members of RKO's board of governors did not like
Welles or the control that his contract gave him.:186 However such
board members as
Nelson Rockefeller and NBC chief David
Sarnoff:1170 were sympathetic to Welles. Throughout production
Welles had problems with these executives not respecting his
contract's stipulation of non-interference and several spies arrived
on set to report what they saw to the executives. When the executives
would sometimes arrive on set unannounced the entire cast and crew
would suddenly start playing softball until they left. Before official
shooting began the executives intercepted all copies of the script and
delayed their delivery to Welles. They had one copy sent to their
office in New York, resulting in it being leaked to press.:195
Principal shooting wrapped October 24. Welles then took several weeks
off of the film for a lecture tour, during which he also scouted
additional locations with Toland and Ferguson. Filming resumed
November 15:87 with some re-shoots. Toland had to leave due to a
commitment to shoot Howard Hughes' The Outlaw, but Toland's camera
crew continued working on the film and Toland was replaced by RKO
cinematographer Harry J. Wild. The final day of shooting on November
30 was Kane's death scene.:85 Welles boasted that he only went 21
days over his official shooting schedule, without factoring in the
month of "camera tests.":195 According to RKO records, the film
cost $839,727. Its estimated budget had been $723,800.
Citizen Kane was edited by
Robert Wise and assistant editor Mark
Robson.:85 Both would become successful film directors. Wise was
hired after Welles finished shooting the "camera tests" and began
officially making the film. Wise said that Welles "had an older editor
assigned to him for those tests and evidently he was not too happy and
asked to have somebody else. I was roughly Orson's age and had several
good credits." Wise and Robson began editing the film while it was
still shooting and said that they "could tell certainly that we were
getting something very special. It was outstanding film day in and day
out.":1210 Welles gave Wise detailed instructions and was usually
not present during the film's editing.:109 The film was very well
planned out and intentionally shot for such post-production techniques
as slow dissolves. The lack of coverage made editing easy since
Welles and Toland edited the film "in camera" by leaving few options
of how it could be put together.:110 Wise said the breakfast table
sequence took weeks to edit and get the correct "timing" and "rhythm"
for the whip pans and overlapping dialogue. The News on the March
sequence was edited by RKO's newsreel division to give it
authenticity.:110 They used stock footage from
Pathé News and the
General Film Library.
During post-production Welles and special effects artist Linwood G.
Dunn experimented with an optical printer to improve certain scenes
that Welles found unsatisfactory from the footage. Whereas Welles
was often immediately pleased with Wise's work, he would require Dunn
and post-production audio engineer
James G. Stewart to re-do their
work several times until he was satisfied.:109
Bernard Herrmann to compose the film's score. Where most
Hollywood film scores were written quickly, in as few as two or three
weeks after filming was completed, Herrmann was given 12 weeks to
write the music. He had sufficient time to do his own orchestrations
and conducting, and worked on the film reel by reel as it was shot and
cut. He wrote complete musical pieces for some of the montages, and
Welles edited many of the scenes to match their length.
Citizen Kane trailer
Written and directed by Welles at Toland's suggestion, the theatrical
Citizen Kane differs from other trailers in that it did
not feature a single second of footage of the actual film itself, but
acts as a wholly original, tongue-in-cheek, pseudo-documentary piece
on the film's production.:230 Filmed at the same time as Citizen
Kane itself, it offers the only existing behind-the-scenes footage of
the film. The trailer, shot by Wild instead of Toland, follows an
unseen Welles as he provides narration for a tour around the film set,
introductions to the film's core cast members, and a brief overview of
Kane's character.:360 The trailer also contains a number of trick
shots, including one of
Everett Sloane appearing at first to be
running into the camera, which turns out to be the reflection of the
camera in a mirror.
At the time, it was almost unprecedented for a film trailer to not
actually feature anything of the film itself; and while Citizen Kane
is frequently cited as a groundbreaking, influential film, Simon
Callow argues its trailer was no less original in its approach. Callow
writes that it has "great playful charm ... it is a miniature
documentary, almost an introduction to the cinema ... Teasing,
charming, completely original, it is a sort of conjuring trick:
Without his face appearing once on the screen, Welles entirely
dominates its five [sic] minutes' duration.":558–9
Film scholars and historians view
Citizen Kane as Welles's attempt to
create a new style of filmmaking by studying various forms of it and
combining them into one. However, Welles stated that his love for
cinema began only when he started working on the film. When asked
where he got the confidence as a first-time director to direct a film
so radically different from contemporary cinema, he responded,
"Ignorance, ignorance, sheer ignorance—you know there's no
confidence to equal it. It's only when you know something about a
profession, I think, that you're timid or careful.":80
David Bordwell wrote that "The best way to understand
Citizen Kane is
to stop worshiping it as a triumph of technique." Bordwell argues that
the film did not invent any of its famous techniques such as deep
focus cinematography, shots of the ceilings, chiaroscuro lighting and
temporal jump-cuts, and that many of these stylistics had been used in
German Expressionist films of the 1920s, such as The Cabinet of Dr.
Caligari. But Bordwell asserts that the film did put them all together
for the first time and perfected the medium in one single
film.:1171 In a 1948 interview,
D. W. Griffith
D. W. Griffith said, "I loved
Citizen Kane and particularly loved the ideas he took from me."
Arguments against the film's cinematic innovations were made as early
as 1946 when French historian
Georges Sadoul wrote, "The film is an
encyclopedia of old techniques." He pointed out such examples as
compositions that used both the foreground and the background in the
films of Auguste and Louis Lumière, special effects used in the films
of Georges Méliès, shots of the ceiling in Erich von Stroheim's
Greed and newsreel montages in the films of Dziga Vertov.
French film critic
André Bazin defended the film, writing: "In this
respect, the accusation of plagiarism could very well be extended to
the film's use of panchromatic film or its exploitation of the
properties of gelatinous silver halide." Bazin disagreed with Sadoul's
comparison to Lumière's cinematography since
Citizen Kane used more
sophisticated lenses,:232 but acknowledged that it had
similarities to such previous works as The 49th Parallel and The Power
and the Glory. Bazin stated that "even if Welles did not invent the
cinematic devices employed in Citizen Kane, one should nevertheless
credit him with the invention of their meaning.":233 Bazin
championed the techniques in the film for its depiction of heightened
reality, but Bordwell believed that the film's use of special effects
contradicted some of Bazin's theories.:75
Citizen Kane eschews the traditional linear, chronological narrative,
and tells Kane's story entirely in flashback using different points of
view, many of them from Kane's aged and forgetful associates, the
cinematic equivalent of the unreliable narrator in literature.:83
Welles also dispenses with the idea of a single storyteller and uses
multiple narrators to recount Kane's life. The use of multiple
narrators was unheard of in Hollywood films.:81 Each narrator
recounts a different part of Kane's life, with each story partly
overlapping. The film depicts Kane as an enigma, a complicated man
who, in the end, leaves viewers with more questions than answers as to
his character, such as the newsreel footage where he is attacked for
being both a communist and a fascist.:82–84
The technique of using flashbacks had been used in earlier
films—most notably in The Power and the Glory (1933)—but no
film was as immersed in this technique as Citizen Kane. The use of the
reporter Thompson acts as a surrogate for the audience, questioning
Kane's associates and piecing together his life.
At that time films typically had an "omniscient perspective", which
Marilyn Fabe says give the audience the "illusion that we are looking
with impunity into a world which is unaware of our gaze, Hollywood
movies give us a feeling of power." The film begins in this fashion up
until the News on the March sequence, after which we the audience see
the film through the perspectives of others.:81 The News on the
March sequence gives an overview of Kane's entire life (and the film's
entire story) at the beginning of the film, leaving the audience
without the typical suspense of wondering how it will end. Instead the
film's repetitions of events compels the audience to analyze and
wonder why Kane's life happened the way that it did, under the pretext
of finding out what "Rosebud" means. The film then returns to the
omniscient perspective in the final scene, when only the audience
discovers what "Rosebud" is.:82–83
Welles and cinematographer
Gregg Toland prepare to film the
post-election confrontation between Kane and Leland, shot from an
extremely low angle that required cutting into the set floor.
Welles placed Toland's credit with his own to acknowledge the
The most innovative technical aspect of
Citizen Kane is the extended
use of deep focus. In nearly every scene in the film, the
foreground, background and everything in between are all in sharp
focus. Cinematographer Toland did this through his experimentation
with lenses and lighting. Toland described the achievement, made
possible by the sensitivity of modern speed film, in an article for
Theatre Arts magazine:
New developments in the science of motion picture photography are not
abundant at this advanced stage of the game but periodically one is
perfected to make this a greater art. Of these I am in an excellent
position to discuss what is termed "Pan-focus", as I have been active
for two years in its development and used it for the first time in
Citizen Kane. Through its use, it is possible to photograph action
from a range of eighteen inches from the camera lens to over two
hundred feet away, with extreme foreground and background figures and
action both recorded in sharp relief. Hitherto, the camera had to be
focused either for a close or a distant shot, all efforts to encompass
both at the same time resulting in one or the other being out of
focus. This handicap necessitated the breaking up of a scene into long
and short angles, with much consequent loss of realism. With
pan-focus, the camera, like the human eye, sees an entire panorama at
once, with everything clear and lifelike.
Both this article and a May 1941 Life magazine article with
illustrated examples helped popularize deep focus cinematography
and Toland's achievements on the film.:73
Another unorthodox method used in the film was the way low-angle shots
were used to display a point of view facing upwards, thus allowing
ceilings to be shown in the background of several scenes. Breaking
with studio convention, every set was built with a ceiling—many
constructed of fabric that ingeniously concealed microphones.
Welles felt that the camera should show what the eyes see, and that it
was a bad theatrical convention to pretend there was no ceiling—"a
big lie in order to get all those terrible lights up there," he said.
He became fascinated with the look of low angles, which made even dull
interiors look interesting. One extremely low angle is used to
photograph the encounter between Kane and Leland after Kane loses the
election. A hole was dug for the camera, which required drilling into
the concrete floor.:61–62
Welles credited Toland on the same title card as himself and said
"It's impossible to say how much I owe to Gregg. He was
superb.":59[k][l] He called Toland "the best director of
photography that ever existed."
Citizen Kane's sound was recorded by Bailey Fesler and re-recorded in
post-production by audio engineer James G. Stewart,:85 both of
whom had worked in radio.:102 Stewart said that Hollywood films
never deviated from a basic pattern of how sound could be recorded or
used, but with Welles "deviation from the pattern was possible because
he demanded it." Although the film is known for its complex
soundtrack, much of the audio is heard as it was recorded by Fesler
and without manipulation.:102
Welles used techniques from radio like overlapping dialogue. The scene
in which characters sing "Oh, Mr. Kane" was especially complicated and
required mixing several soundtracks together.:104 He also used
different "sound perspectives" to create the illusion of
distances,:101 such as in scenes at Xanadu where characters speak
to each other at far distances. Welles experimented with sound in
post-production, creating audio montages,:94 and chose to create
all of the sound effects for the film instead of using RKO's library
of sound effects.:100
Welles used an aural technique from radio called the "lightning-mix".
Welles used this technique to link complex montage sequences via a
series of related sounds or phrases. For example, Kane grows from a
child into a young man in just two shots. As Thatcher hands
eight-year-old Kane a sled and wishes him a Merry Christmas, the
sequence suddenly jumps to a shot of Thatcher fifteen years later,
completing the sentence he began in both the previous shot and the
chronological past. Other radio techniques include using a number of
voices, each saying a sentence or sometimes merely a fragment of a
sentence, and splicing the dialogue together in quick succession, such
as the projection room scene.:413–412 The film's sound cost
$16,996, but was originally budgeted at $7,288.:105
Film critic and director
François Truffaut wrote that "Before Kane,
nobody in Hollywood knew how to set music properly in movies. Kane was
the first, in fact the only, great film that uses radio
techniques. ... A lot of filmmakers know enough to follow Auguste
Renoir's advice to fill the eyes with images at all costs, but only
Orson Welles understood that the sound track had to be filled in the
Cedric Belfrage of The Clipper wrote "of all of the
delectable flavours that linger on the palate after seeing Kane, the
use of sound is the strongest.":1171
The make-up for
Citizen Kane was created and applied by Maurice
Seiderman (1907–1989), a junior member of the RKO make-up
department.:19 Seiderman's family came to the United States from
Russia in 1920, escaping persecution.:18 As a child Seiderman had
won a drawing competition and received an apprenticeship at the Moscow
Art Theatre,:157 where his father was a wigmaker and make-up
artist.:42 In New York his uncle was a theatrical scenic painter,
and he helped Seiderman get into the union.:18 He worked on Max
Reinhardt's 1924 production of The Miracle and with the Yiddish Art
Theatre,:157 and he studied the human figure at the Art Students
League of New York.:42 After he moved to Los Angeles he was hired
first by Max Factor and then by RKO.:19 Seiderman had not been
accepted into the union, which recognized him as only an apprentice,
but RKO nevertheless used him to make up principal actors.:19
"Apprentices were not supposed to make up any principals, only extras,
and an apprentice could not be on a set without a journeyman present,"
wrote make-up artist Dick Smith, who became friends with Seiderman in
1979. "During his years at RKO I suspect these rules were probably
overlooked often.":19 By 1940 Seiderman's uncredited film work
included Winterset, Gunga Din, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Swiss
Family Robinson and Abe Lincoln in Illinois.:48 "Seiderman had
gained a reputation as one of the most inventive and creatively
precise up-and-coming makeup men in Hollywood," wrote biographer Frank
On an early tour of RKO, Welles met Seiderman in the small make-up lab
he created for himself in an unused dressing room.:19 "Welles
fastened on to him at once," wrote biographer Charles Higham. "With
his great knowledge of makeup—indeed, his obsession with it, for he
hated his flat nose—Welles was fascinated ... Seiderman had an
intimate knowledge of anatomy and the process of aging and was
acquainted with every line, wrinkle and accretion of fat in aging men
and women. Impatient with most makeup methods of his era, he used
casts of his subjects in order to develop makeup methods that ensured
complete naturalness of expression—a naturalness unrivaled in
"When Kane came out in script form, Orson told all of us about the
picture and said that the most important aspect was the makeup,"
Seiderman recalled. "I felt that I was being given an assignment that
was unique—so I worked accordingly. And there was a lot of work to
do. Straight makeups were done in the makeup department by staff, but
all the trick stuff and the principal characters were my personal
work; nobody else ever touched them. They could not have handled
Seiderman developed a thorough plan for aging the principal
characters, first making a plaster cast of the face of each of the
actors who aged, except
Joseph Cotten who was unavailable at that
time. He made a plaster mold of Welles's body down to the hips.:46
"My sculptural techniques for the characters' aging were handled by
adding pieces of white modeling clay, which matched the plaster, onto
the surface of each bust," Seiderman told visual arts historian Norman
Gambill. When Seiderman achieved the desired effect he cast the clay
pieces in a soft plastic material:46 that he formulated
himself.:20 These appliances were then placed onto the plaster
bust and a four-piece mold was made for each phase of aging. The
castings were then fully painted and paired with the appropriate wig
Before the actors went before the cameras each day, the pliable pieces
were applied directly to their faces to recreate Seiderman's
sculptural image. Welles was allergic to Max Factor's gum, so
Seiderman invented an alternative that also photographed more
realistically.:46 The facial surface was underpainted in a
flexible red plastic compound;:43 Cotten recalled being instructed
to puff out his cheeks during this process. Later, seeing the results
in the mirror, Cotten told Seiderman, "I am acting the part of a nice
old gentleman, not a relief map of the Rocky Mountains." Seiderman
replied, "You'd be surprised at what the camera doesn't see unless we
place it within its view. How about some more coffee?":43
The red ground resulted in a warmth of tone that was picked up by the
sensitive panchromatic film. Over that was applied liquid greasepaint,
and then finally a colorless translucent talcum.:42–43 Seiderman
created the effect of skin pores on Kane's face by stippling the
surface with a negative cast he made from an orange peel.:42, 47
Welles was just as heavily made up as young Kane as he was for old
Kane, and he often arrived on the set at 2:30 a.m.:69
Application of the sculptural make-up for the oldest incarnation of
the character took three-and-a-half hours. The make-up included
appliances to age Welles's shoulders, breast and stomach.:19–20
"In the film and production photographs, you can see that Kane had a
belly that overhung," Seiderman said. "That was not a costume, it was
the rubber sculpture that created the image. You could see how Kane's
silk shirt clung wetly to the character's body. It could not have been
done any other way.":46
Seiderman worked with Charles Wright on the wigs. These went over a
flexible skull cover that Seiderman created and sewed into place with
elastic thread. When he found the wigs too full he untied one hair at
a time to alter their shape. Kane's mustache was inserted into the
makeup surface a few hairs at a time, to realistically vary the color
and texture.:43, 47
Seiderman made scleral lenses for Welles, Dorothy Comingore, George
Coulouris and Everett Sloane, to dull the brightness of their young
eyes. The lenses took a long time to fit properly, and Seiderman began
work on them before devising any of the other makeup. "I painted them
to age in phases, ending with the blood vessels and the Aurora Senilis
of old age.":47[m]
"Cotten was the only principal for whom I had not made any sculptural
casts, wigs or lenses," Seiderman said. When Cotten's old-age scenes
needed to be shot out of sequence due to Welles's injured ankle,
Seiderman improvised with appliances made for Kane's make-up. A sun
visor was chosen to conceal Cotten's low hairline:47–48 and the
lenses he wore—hastily supplied by a Beverly Hills
Kane ages convincingly in the breakfast montage, make-up artist
Maurice Seiderman's tour de force.
Seiderman's tour de force, the breakfast montage, was shot all in one
day. "Twelve years, two years shot at each scene," he said. "Please
realize, by the way, that a two-year jump in age is a bit harder to
accomplish visually than one of 20 years.":47
As they did with art direction, the major studios gave screen credit
for make-up to only the department head. When RKO make-up department
Mel Berns refused to share credit with Seiderman, who was only an
apprentice, Welles told Berns that there would be no make-up credit.
Welles signed a large advertisement in the Los Angeles
THANKS TO EVERYBODY WHO GETS SCREEN CREDIT FOR "CITIZEN KANE"
AND THANKS TO THOSE WHO DON'T
TO ALL THE ACTORS, THE CREW, THE OFFICE, THE MUSICIANS, EVERYBODY
AND PARTICULARLY TO MAURICE SEIDERMAN, THE BEST MAKE-UP MAN IN THE
"To put this event in context, remember that I was a very low man,"
Seiderman recalled. "I wasn't even called a make-up man. I had started
their laboratory and developed their plastic appliances for make-up.
But my salary was $25 a week. And I had no union card.":48
Seiderman told Gambill that after
Citizen Kane was released, Welles
was invited to a White House dinner where
Frances Perkins was among
the guests. Welles told her about the Russian immigrant who did the
make-up for his film but could not join the union. Seiderman said the
head of the union received a call from the Labor Department the next
day, and in November 1941 he was a full union member.:22:48[n]
Although credited as an assistant, the film's art direction was done
by Perry Ferguson.:85 Welles and Ferguson got along during their
collaboration.:37 In the weeks before production began Welles,
Toland and Ferguson met regularly to discuss the film and plan every
shot, set design and prop. Ferguson would take notes during these
discussions and create rough designs of the sets and story boards for
individual shots. After Welles approved the rough sketches, Ferguson
made miniature models for Welles and Toland to experiment on with a
periscope in order to rehearse and perfect each shot. Ferguson then
had detailed drawings made for the set design, including the film's
lighting design. The set design was an integral part of the film's
overall look and Toland's cinematography.:42
In the original script the Great Hall at Xanadu was modeled after the
Great Hall in Hearst Castle and its design included a mixture of
Renaissance and Gothic styles.:50–51 "The Hearstian element is
brought out in the almost perverse juxtaposition of incongruous
architectural styles and motifs," wrote Carringer.:54 Before RKO
cut the film's budget, Ferguson's designs were more elaborate and
resembled the production designs of early
Cecil B. DeMille
Cecil B. DeMille films and
Intolerance.:55 The budget cuts reduced Ferguson's budget by 33
percent and his work cost $58,775 total,:65 which was below
average at that time.:93 To save costs Ferguson and Welles
re-wrote scenes in Xanadu's living room and transported them to the
Great Hall. A large staircase from another film was found and used at
no additional cost.:56–57 When asked about the limited budget,
Ferguson said "Very often—as in that much-discussed 'Xanadu' set in
Citizen Kane—we can make a foreground piece, a background piece, and
imaginative lighting suggest a great deal more on the screen than
actually exists on the stage.":65–66 According to the film's
official budget there were 81 sets built, but Ferguson said there were
between 106 and 116.:64
Still photographs of
Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York, were used
in the opening montage, representing Kane's Xanadu estate.
Ferguson also designed statues from Kane's collection with styles
ranging from Greek to German Gothic.:61 The sets were also built
to accommodate Toland's camera movements. Walls were built to fold and
furniture could quickly be moved. The film's famous ceilings were made
out of muslin fabric and camera boxes were built into the floors for
low angle shots.:64–65 Welles later said that he was proud that
the film production value looked much more expensive than the film's
budget. Although neither worked with Welles again, Toland and Ferguson
collaborated in several films in the 1940s.:65
The film's special effects were supervised by RKO department head
Vernon L. Walker.:85 Welles pioneered several visual effects to
cheaply shoot things like crowd scenes and large interior spaces. For
example, the scene in which the camera in the opera house rises
dramatically to the rafters, to show the workmen showing a lack of
appreciation for Susan Alexander Kane's performance, was shot by a
camera craning upwards over the performance scene, then a curtain wipe
to a miniature of the upper regions of the house, and then another
curtain wipe matching it again with the scene of the workmen. Other
scenes effectively employed miniatures to make the film look much more
expensive than it truly was, such as various shots of Xanadu.
Some shots included rear screen projection in the background, such as
Thompson's interview of Leland and some of the ocean backgrounds at
Xanadu.:88 Bordwell claims that the scene where Thatcher agrees to
be Kane's guardian used rear screen projection to depict young Kane in
the background, despite this scene being cited as a prime example of
Toland's deep focus cinematography.:74 A special effects camera
crew from Walker's department was required for the extreme close-up
shots such as Kane's lips when he says "Rosebud" and the shot of the
typewriter typing Susan's bad review.:88
Optical effects artist Dunn claimed that "up to 80 percent of some
reels was optically printed." These shots were traditionally
attributed to Toland for years.:110 The optical printer improved
some of the deep focus shots.:92 One problem with the optical
printer was that it sometimes created excessive graininess, such as
the optical zoom out of the snow globe. Welles decided to superimpose
snow falling to mask the graininess in these shots.:94 Toland said
that he disliked the results of the optical printer,:92 but
acknowledged that "RKO special effects expert Vernon Walker, ASC, and
his staff handled their part of the production—a by no means
inconsiderable assignment—with ability and fine
Any time deep focus was impossible—as in the scene in which Kane
finishes a negative review of Susan's opera while at the same time
firing the person who began writing the review—an optical printer
was used to make the whole screen appear in focus, visually layering
one piece of film onto another.:92 However, some apparently
deep-focus shots were the result of in-camera effects, as in the
famous scene in which Kane breaks into Susan's room after her suicide
attempt. In the background, Kane and another man break into the room,
while simultaneously the medicine bottle and a glass with a spoon in
it are in closeup in the foreground. The shot was an in-camera matte
shot. The foreground was shot first, with the background dark. Then
the background was lit, the foreground darkened, the film rewound, and
the scene re-shot with the background action.:82
Incidental music includes the publisher's theme, "Oh, Mr. Kane", a
Pepe Guízar with special lyrics by Herman Ruby.
The film's music was composed by Bernard Herrmann.:72 Herrmann had
composed for Welles for his
Mercury Theatre radio broadcasts.:63
Because it was Herrmann's first motion picture score, RKO wanted to
pay him only a small fee, but Welles insisted he be paid at the same
rate as Max Steiner.:72
The score established Herrmann as an important new composer of film
soundtracks and eschewed the typical Hollywood practice of scoring
a film with virtually non-stop music. Instead Herrmann used what he
later described as '"radio scoring", musical cues typically 5–15
seconds in length that bridge the action or suggest a different
emotional response.:77–78 The breakfast montage sequence begins
with a graceful waltz theme and gets darker with each variation on
that theme as the passage of time leads to the hardening of Kane's
personality and the breakdown of his first marriage.
Herrmann realized that musicians slated to play his music were hired
for individual unique sessions; there was no need to write for
existing ensembles. This meant that he was free to score for unusual
combinations of instruments, even instruments that are not commonly
heard. In the opening sequence, for example, the tour of Kane's estate
Xanadu, Herrmann introduces a recurring leitmotiv played by low
woodwinds, including a quartet of alto flutes.
For Susan Alexander Kane's operatic sequence, Welles suggested that
Herrmann compose a witty parody of a
Mary Garden vehicle, an aria from
Salammbô.:57 "Our problem was to create something that would give
the audience the feeling of the quicksand into which this simple
little girl, having a charming but small voice, is suddenly thrown,"
Herrmann said.:79 Writing in the style of a 19th-century French
Oriental opera, Herrmann put the aria in a key that would force
the singer to strain to reach the high notes, culminating in a high D,
well outside the range of Susan Alexander.:79–80 Soprano Jean
Forward dubbed the vocal part for Comingore. Houseman claimed to
have written the libretto, based on Jean Racine's
Phedre,:460–461 although some confusion remains since Lucille
Fletcher remembered preparing the lyrics.:80 Fletcher, then
Herrmann's wife, wrote the libretto for his opera Wuthering
Music enthusiasts consider the scene in which Susan Alexander Kane
attempts to sing the famous cavatina "Una voce poco fa" from Il
barbiere di Siviglia by
Gioachino Rossini with vocal coach Signor
Matiste as especially memorable for depicting the horrors of learning
music through mistakes.
In 1972, Herrmann said, "I was fortunate to start my career with a
film like Citizen Kane, it's been a downhill run ever since!" Welles
loved Herrmann's score and told director
Henry Jaglom that it was 50
percent responsible for the film's artistic success.:84
Some incidental music came from other sources. Welles heard the tune
used for the publisher's theme, "Oh, Mr. Kane", in Mexico.:57
Called "A Poco No", the song was written by
Pepe Guízar and special
lyrics were written by Herman Ruby.
"In a Mizz", a 1939 jazz song by
Charlie Barnet and Haven Johnson,
bookends Thompson's second interview of Susan Alexander
Kane.:108 "I kind of based the whole scene around that song,"
Welles said. "The music is by Nat Cole—it's his trio.":56
Later—beginning with the lyrics, "It can't be love"—"In a Mizz" is
performed at the Everglades picnic, framing the fight in the tent
between Susan and Kane.:108 Musicians including bandleader Cee Pee
Johnson (drums), Alton Redd (vocals), Raymond Tate (trumpet), Buddy
Collette (alto sax) and Buddy Banks (tenor sax) are featured.
All of the music used in the newsreel came from the RKO music library,
edited at Welles's request by the newsreel department to achieve what
Herrmann called "their own crazy way of cutting". The News on the
March theme that accompanies the newsreel titles is "Belgian March" by
Anthony Collins, from the film Nurse Edith Cavell. Other examples are
an excerpt from Alfred Newman's score for Gunga Din (the exploration
of Xanadu), Roy Webb's theme for the film Reno (the growth of Kane's
empire), and bits of Webb's score for
Five Came Back
Five Came Back (introducing
Walter Parks Thatcher).:79
Orson Welles and
Ruth Warrick in the breakfast montage
One of the editing techniques used in
Citizen Kane was the use of
montage to collapse time and space, using an episodic sequence on the
same set while the characters changed costume and make-up between cuts
so that the scene following each cut would look as if it took place in
the same location, but at a time long after the previous cut. In the
breakfast montage, Welles chronicles the breakdown of Kane's first
marriage in five vignettes that condense 16 years of story time into
two minutes of screen time. Welles said that the idea for the
breakfast scene "was stolen from
The Long Christmas Dinner
The Long Christmas Dinner of Thornton
Wilder ... a one-act play, which is a long Christmas dinner that
takes you through something like 60 years of a family's life.":51
The film often uses long dissolves to signify the passage of time and
its psychological effect of the characters, such as the scene in which
the abandoned sled is covered with snow after the young Kane is sent
away with Thatcher.:90–91
Welles was influenced by the editing theories of
Sergei Eisenstein by
using jarring cuts that caused "sudden graphic or associative
contrasts", such as the cut from Kane's deathbed to the beginning of
the News on the March sequence and a sudden shot of a shrieking bird
at the beginning of Raymond's flashback.:88–89 Although the film
typically favors mise-en-scène over montage, the scene in which Kane
goes to Susan Alexander's apartment after first meeting her is the
only one that is primarily cut as close-ups with shots and counter
shots between Kane and Susan.:68 Fabe says that "by using a
standard Hollywood technique sparingly, [Welles] revitalizes its
In her 1992 monograph for the British Film Institute, critic Laura
Mulvey explored the anti-fascist themes of Citizen Kane. The News on
the March newsreel presents Kane keeping company with Hitler and other
dictators while he smugly assures the public there will be no
war.:44 Mulvey wrote that the film reflects "the battle between
intervention and isolationism" then being waged in the United States;
the film was released six months before the attack on Pearl Harbor,
Franklin D. Roosevelt
Franklin D. Roosevelt was laboring to win public
opinion for entering World War II. "Not only was the war in Europe the
burning public issue of the time," Mulvey wrote, "it was of passionate
personal importance to Orson Welles ... In the rhetoric of
Citizen Kane, the destiny of isolationism is realised in metaphor: in
Kane's own fate, dying wealthy and lonely, surrounded by the detritus
of European culture and history.":15
Ignacio Ramonet has cited the film as an early example of
mass media manipulation of public opinion and the power that media
conglomerates have on influencing the democratic process. Ramonet
believes that this early example of a media mogul influencing politics
is outdated and that "today
Citizen Kane would be a dwarf. He owned a
few papers in one country. The forces that dominate today have
integrated image with text and sound and the world is their market.
There are media groups with the power of a thousand Citizen
Kanes." Media mogul
Rupert Murdoch is sometimes labeled as a
latter-day Citizen Kane.
To ensure that Citizen Kane's influence from Hearst's life was a
secret, Welles limited access to dailies and managed the film's
publicity. A December 1940 feature story in Stage magazine compared
the film's narrative to
Faust and made no mention of Hearst.:111
The film was scheduled to premiere at RKO's flagship theater Radio
City Music Hall on February 14, but in early January 1941 Welles was
not finished with post-production work and told RKO that it still
needed its musical score.:205 Writers for national magazines had
early deadlines and so a rough cut was previewed for a select few on
January 3, 1941:111 for such magazines as Life, Look and Redbook.
Hedda Hopper (and Parsons' arch rival) showed up to
the screening uninvited. Most of the critics at the preview said that
they liked the film and gave it good advanced reviews. Hopper wrote
negatively about it, calling the film a "vicious and irresponsible
attack on a great man" and criticizing its corny writing and old
fashioned photography.:205 Friday magazine ran an article drawing
point-by-point comparisons between Kane and Hearst and documented how
Welles had led on Parsons, Hollywood correspondent for Hearst
papers.:111 Up until this Welles had been friendly with Parsons.
The magazine quoted Welles as saying that he couldn't understand why
she was so nice to him and that she should "wait until the woman finds
out that the picture's about her boss." Welles immediately denied
making the statement and the editor of Friday admitted that it may be
false. Welles apologized to Parsons and assured her that he had never
made that remark.:205
Film columnist and Hearst employee
Louella Parsons was humiliated by
Citizen Kane and made numerous threats to prevent the film's release.
Shortly after Friday's article, Hearst sent Parsons an angry letter
complaining that he had learned about
Citizen Kane from Hopper and not
her. The incident made a fool of Parsons and compelled her to start
attacking Welles and the film. Parsons demanded a private screening of
the film and personally threatened Schaefer on Hearst's behalf, first
with a lawsuit and then with a vague threat of consequences for
everyone in Hollywood. On January 10 Parsons and two lawyers working
for Hearst were given a private screening of the film.:206 James
G. Stewart was present at the screening and said that she walked out
of the film.:11 Soon after, Parsons called Schaefer and threatened
RKO with a lawsuit if they released Kane.:111 She also contacted
the management of
Radio City Music Hall
Radio City Music Hall and demanded that they not
screen it.:206 The next day, the front page headline in Daily
Variety read, "HEARST BANS RKO FROM PAPERS." Hearst began this ban
by suppressing promotion of RKO's Kitty Foyle,:94 but in two weeks
the ban was lifted for everything except Kane.:111
When Schaefer did not submit to Parsons she called other studio heads
and made more threats on behalf of Hearst to expose the private lives
of people throughout the entire film industry.:206 Welles was
threatened with an exposé about his romance with the married actress
Dolores del Rio, who wanted the affair kept secret until her divorce
was finalized.:207 In a statement to journalists Welles denied
that the film was about Hearst. Hearst began preparing an injunction
against the film for libel and invasion of privacy, but Welles's
lawyer told him that he doubted Hearst would proceed due to the
negative publicity and required testimony that an injunction would
The Hollywood Reporter
The Hollywood Reporter ran a front-page story on January 13 that
Hearst papers were about to run a series of editorials attacking
Hollywood's practice of hiring refugees and immigrants for jobs that
could be done by Americans. The goal was to put pressure on the other
studios to force RKO to shelve Kane.:111 Many of those immigrants
had fled Europe after the rise of fascism and feared losing the safe
haven of the United States.:209 Soon afterwards, Schaefer was
approached by Nicholas Schenck, head of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer's parent
company, with an offer on the behalf of
Louis B. Mayer
Louis B. Mayer and other
Hollywood executives to
RKO Pictures of $805,000 to destroy all prints
of the film and burn the negative.:111–112 Once RKO's legal
team reassured Schaefer, the studio announced on January 21 that Kane
would be released as scheduled, and with one of the largest
promotional campaigns in the studio's history. Schaefer brought Welles
to New York City for a private screening of the film with the New York
corporate heads of the studios and their lawyers.:112 There was no
objection to its release provided that certain changes, including the
removal or softening of specific references that might offend Hearst,
were made.:112–113 Welles agreed and cut the running time from
122 minutes to 119 minutes. The cuts satisfied the corporate
Citizen Kane enraged Hearst so much that he banned any
advertising, reviewing, or mentioning of it in his papers, and had his
journalists libel Welles. Welles used Hearst's opposition as a
pretext for previewing the film in several opinion-making screenings
in Los Angeles, lobbying for its artistic worth against the hostile
campaign that Hearst was waging. A special press screening took
place in early March. Henry Luce was in attendance and reportedly
wanted to buy the film from RKO for $1 million to distribute it
himself. The reviews for this screening were positive. A Hollywood
Review headline read, "Mr. Genius Comes Through; 'Kane' Astonishing
Picture". The Motion Picture Herald reported about the screening and
Welles's intention to sue RKO. Time magazine wrote that "The objection
of Mr. Hearst, who founded a publishing empire on sensationalism, is
ironic. For to most of the several hundred people who have seen the
film at private screenings,
Citizen Kane is the most sensational
product of the U.S. movie industry." A second press screening occurred
When Schaefer rejected Hearst's offer to suppress the film, Hearst
banned every newspaper and station in his media conglomerate from
reviewing—or even mentioning—the film. He also had many movie
theaters ban it, and many did not show it through fear of being
socially exposed by his massive newspaper empire. The
The Battle Over Citizen Kane
The Battle Over Citizen Kane lays the
blame for the film's relative failure squarely at the feet of Hearst.
The film did decent business at the box office; it went on to be the
sixth highest grossing film in its year of release, a modest success
its backers found acceptable. Nevertheless, the film's commercial
performance fell short of its creators' expectations. Hearst's
David Nasaw points out that Hearst's actions were not the
only reason Kane failed, however: the innovations Welles made with
narrative, as well as the dark message at the heart of the film (that
the pursuit of success is ultimately futile) meant that a popular
audience could not appreciate its merits.:572–573
Hearst's attacks against Welles went beyond attempting to suppress the
film. Welles said that while he was on his post-filming lecture tour a
police detective approached him at a restaurant and advised him not to
go back to his hotel. A 14-year-old girl had reportedly been hidden in
the closet of his room, and two photographers were waiting for him to
walk in. Knowing he would be jailed after the resulting publicity,
Welles did not return to the hotel but waited until the train left
town the following morning. "But that wasn't Hearst," Welles said,
"that was a hatchet man from the local Hearst paper who thought he
would advance himself by doing it.":85–86
In March 1941 Welles directed a Broadway version of Richard Wright's
Native Son (and, for luck, used a "Rosebud" sled as a prop). Native
Son received positive reviews, but Hearst-owned papers used the
opportunity to attack Welles as a communist.:213 The Hearst papers
vociferously attacked Welles after his April 1941 radio play, "His
Honor, the Mayor", produced for The Free Company radio series on
Welles described his chance encounter with Hearst in an elevator at
the Fairmont Hotel on the night
Citizen Kane opened in San Francisco.
Hearst and Welles's father were acquaintances, so Welles introduced
himself and asked Hearst if he would like to come to the opening.
Hearst did not respond. "As he was getting off at his floor, I said,
Charles Foster Kane
Charles Foster Kane would have accepted.' No reply", recalled Welles.
"And Kane would have you know. That was his style—just as he
finished Jed Leland's bad review of Susan as an opera
In 1945 Hearst journalist Robert Shaw wrote that the film got "a full
tide of insensate fury" from Hearst papers, "then it ebbed suddenly.
With one brain cell working, the chief realized that such hysterical
barking by the trained seals would attract too much attention to the
picture. But to this day the name of
Orson Welles is on the official
son-of-a-bitch list of every Hearst newspaper.":102
Despite Hearst's attempts to destroy the film, since 1941 references
to his life and career have usually included a reference to Citizen
Kane, such as the headline 'Son of
Citizen Kane Dies' for the obituary
of Hearst's son. In 2012 the Hearst estate agreed to screen the
film at Hearst Castle in San Simeon, breaking Hearst's ban on the
Radio City Music Hall's management refused to screen
Citizen Kane for
its premiere. A possible factor was Parsons's threat that The American
Weekly would run a defamatory story on the grandfather of major RKO
stockholder Nelson Rockefeller.:115 Other exhibitors feared being
sued for libel by Hearst and refused to show the film.:216 In
March Welles threatened the RKO board of governors with a lawsuit if
they did not release the film. Schaefer stood by Welles and opposed
the board of governors.:210 When RKO still delayed the film's
release Welles offered to buy the film for $1 million and the studio
finally agreed to release the film on May 1.:215
Schaefer managed to book a few theaters willing to show the film.
Hearst papers refused to accept advertising.:115 RKO's publicity
advertisements for the film erroneously promoted it as a love
Kane opened at the RKO Palace Theatre on Broadway in New York on May
1, 1941, in Chicago on May 6, and in Los Angeles on May 8.:115
Welles said that at the Chicago premiere that he attended the theater
was almost empty.:216 It did well in cities and larger towns but
fared poorly in more remote areas. RKO still had problems getting
exhibitors to show the film. For example, one chain controlling more
than 500 theaters got Welles's film as part of a package but refused
to play it, reportedly out of fear of Hearst.:117 Hearst's
disruption of the film's release damaged its box office performance
and, as a result, it lost $160,000 during its initial
run.:164 The film earned $23,878 during its first week in
New York. By the ninth week it only made $7,279. Overall it lost money
in New York, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and
Washington, D.C., but made a profit in Seattle.:216
Citizen Kane received good reviews from several critics. New York
Daily News critic Kate Cameron called it "one of the most interesting
and technically superior films that has ever come out of a Hollywood
New York World-Telegram
New York World-Telegram critic William Boehnel said that
the film was "staggering and belongs at once among the greatest screen
achievements". Time magazine wrote that "it has found important
new techniques in picture-making and story-telling.":211 Life
magazine's review said that "few movies have ever come from Hollywood
with such powerful narrative, such original technique, such exciting
photography.":211 John C. Mosher of
The New Yorker
The New Yorker called the
film's style "like fresh air" and raved "Something new has come to the
movie world at last.":68 Anthony Bower of
The Nation called it
"brilliant" and praised the cinematography and performances by Welles,
Comingore and Cotten. John O'Hara's
Newsweek review called it the
best picture he'd ever seen and said Welles was "the best actor in the
history of acting.":211 Welles called O'Hara's review "the
greatest review that anybody ever had.":100
The day following the premiere of Citizen Kane, The New York Times
Bosley Crowther wrote that "... it comes close to being
the most sensational film ever made in Hollywood."
Count on Mr. Welles: he doesn't do things by halves. ... Upon the
screen he discovered an area large enough for his expansive whims to
have free play. And the consequence is that he has made a picture of
tremendous and overpowering scope, not in physical extent so much as
in its rapid and graphic rotation of thoughts. Mr. Welles has put upon
the screen a motion picture that really moves.
In the UK
C. A. Lejeune of
The Observer called it "The most exciting
film that has come out of Hollywood in twenty-five years" and
Dilys Powell of
The Sunday Times
The Sunday Times said the film's style was made "with
the ease and boldness and resource of one who controls and is not
controlled by his medium.":63
Edward Tangye Lean of Horizon
praised the film's technical style, calling it "perhaps a decade ahead
of its contemporaries."[o]
A few reviews were mixed.
Otis Ferguson of
The New Republic
The New Republic said it
was "the boldest free-hand stroke in major screen production since
Griffith and Bitzer were running wild to unshackle the camera", but
also criticized its style, calling it a "retrogression in film
technique" and stating that "it holds no great place" in film
history. Ferguson reacted to some of the film's celebrated visual
techniques by calling them "just willful dabbling" and "the old shell
game." In a rare film review, filmmaker
Erich von Stroheim
Erich von Stroheim criticized
the film's story and non-linear structure, but praised the technical
style and performances, and wrote "Whatever the truth may be about it,
Citizen Kane is a great picture and will go down in screen history.
More power to Welles!"
Some prominent critics wrote negative reviews. In his 1941 review for
Jorge Luis Borges
Jorge Luis Borges famously called the film "a labyrinth with no
center" and predicted that its legacy would be a film "whose
historical value is undeniable but which no one cares to see
again." The Argus Weekend Magazine critic
Erle Cox called the
film "amazing" but thought that Welles's break with Hollywood
traditions was "overdone." Tatler's
James Agate called it "the
well-intentioned, muddled, amateurish thing one expects from
high-brows" and "a quite good film which tries to run the
psychological essay in harness with your detective thriller, and
doesn't quite succeed." Eileen Creelman of The New York Sun
called it "a cold picture, unemotional, a puzzle rather than a
drama".:178 Other people who disliked the film were W. H.
Auden:98 and James Agee.:99
National Board of Review
National Board of Review recognized both Welles and George
Coulouris for their performances in
Citizen Kane (1941), which was
also voted the year's best film.
Citizen Kane received the
New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best
National Board of Review
National Board of Review voted it Best Film of
1941, and recognized Welles and Coulouris for their
Citizen Kane received nine nominations at the 1941 Academy
Outstanding Motion Picture – Mercury
Best Director – Orson Welles
Best Actor – Orson Welles
Best Writing (Original Screenplay) – Herman J. Mankiewicz,
Best Art Direction (Black-and-White) – Perry Ferguson, Van Nest
Polglase, Al Fields, Darrell Silvera
Best Cinematography (Black-and-White) – Gregg Toland
Best Film Editing – Robert Wise
Best Music (Music Score of a Dramatic Picture) – Bernard
Best Sound Recording – John Aalberg
It was widely believed the film would win most of its Oscar
nominations, but it received only the award for Best Writing (Original
Screenplay), shared by Welles and Mankiewicz. Variety reported that
block voting by screen extras deprived
Citizen Kane of Academy Awards
for Best Picture and Best Actor (Welles), and similar prejudices were
likely to have been responsible for the film receiving no technical
Citizen Kane was the only film made under Welles's original contract
with RKO Pictures, which gave him complete creative control.:223
Welles's new business manager and attorney permitted the contract to
lapse. In July 1941, Welles reluctantly signed a new and
less favorable deal with RKO:223 under which he produced and
directed The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), produced Journey into Fear
(1943), and began It's All True, a film he agreed to do without
payment. In the new contract Welles was an employee of the studio
and lost the right to final cut, which later allowed RKO to modify and
re-cut The Magnificent Ambersons over his objections.:223 In June
1942 Schaefer resigned the presidency of
RKO Pictures and Welles's
contract was terminated by his successor.
Release in Europe
During World War II,
Citizen Kane was not seen in most European
countries. It was shown in France for the first time on July 10, 1946
at the Marbeuf theatre in Paris.:34–35[p] Initially most French
film critics were influenced by the negative reviews of Jean-Paul
Sartre in 1945 and
Georges Sadoul in 1946.:118 At that time many
French intellectuals and filmmakers shared Sartre's negative opinion
that Hollywood filmmakers were uncultured.:124 Sartre criticized
the film's flashbacks for its nostalgic and romantic preoccupation
with the past instead of the realities of the present and said that
"the whole film is based on a misconception of what cinema is all
about. The film is in the past tense, whereas we all know that cinema
has got to be in the present tense."
André Bazin (author of Qu'est-ce que le cinéma?) based
many of his theories around the film and has been called the most
influential person to enhance its reputation.
André Bazin, a little-known film critic working for Sartre's Les
Temps modernes, was asked to give an impromptu speech about the film
after a screening at the Colisée Theatre in the autumn of
1946:36 and changed the opinion of much of the audience. This
speech led to Bazin's 1947 article "The Technique of Citizen
Kane",:125 which directly influenced public opinion about the
film.:124 Carringer wrote that Bazin was "the one who did the
most to enhance the film's reputation.":118[q] Both Bazin's
critique of the film and his theories about cinema itself centered
around his strong belief in mise en scène. These theories were
diametrically opposed to both the popular Soviet montage
theory:xiii and the politically
Marxist and anti-Hollywood beliefs
of most French film critics at that time.:36 Bazin believed that
a film should depict reality without the filmmaker imposing their
"will" on the spectator, which the Soviet theory supported.:xiii
Bazin wrote that Citizen Kane's mise en scène created a "new
conception of filmmaking":233 and that the freedom given to the
audience from the deep focus shots was innovative by changing the
entire concept of the cinematic image.:128 Bazin wrote
extensively about the mise en scène in the scene where Susan
Alexander attempts suicide, which was one long take while other films
would have used four or five shots in the scene.:234 Bazin wrote
that the film's mise en scène "forces the spectator to participate in
the meaning of the film" and creates "a psychological realism which
brings the spectator back to the real conditions of
In his 1950 essay "The Evolution of the Language of Cinema", Bazin
Citizen Kane center stage as a work which ushered in a new
period in cinema.:37 One of the first critics to defend motion
pictures as being on the same artistic level as literature or
painting, Bazin often used the film as an example of cinema as an art
form:129 and wrote that "Welles has given the cinema a
theoretical restoration. He has enriched his filmic repertory with new
or forgotten effects that, in today's artistic context, take on a
significance we didn't know they could have.":236 Bazin also
compared the film to Roberto Rossellini's
Paisà for having "the same
aesthetic concept of realism":117–118 and to the films of
William Wyler shot by Toland (such as The Little Foxes and The Best
Years of Our Lives), all of which used deep focus cinematography that
Bazin called "a dialectical step forward in film language.":71
Bazin's praise of the film went beyond film theory and reflected his
own philosophy towards life itself.:125 His metaphysical
interpretations about the film reflected humankind's place in the
universe.:128 Bazin believed that the film examined one person's
identity and search for meaning. It portrayed the world as ambiguous
and full of contradictions, whereas films up until then simply
portrayed people's actions and motivations.:130 Bazin's
Dudley Andrew wrote that:
The world of Citizen Kane, that mysterious, dark, and infinitely deep
world of space and memory where voices trail off into distant echoes
and where meaning dissolves into interpretation, seemed to Bazin to
mark the starting point from which all of us try to construct
provisionally the sense of our lives.:129
Bazin went on to co-found Cahiers du cinéma, whose contributors
(including future film directors
François Truffaut and Jean-Luc
Godard) also praised the film.:37 The popularity of Truffaut's
auteur theory helped the film's and Welles's reputation.:263
Citizen Kane had run its course theatrically and, apart from a
few showings at big city arthouse cinemas, it largely vanished and
both the film's and Welles's reputation fell among American critics.
In 1949 critic Richard Griffith in his overview of cinema, The Film
Till Now, dismissed
Citizen Kane as "... tinpot if not crackpot
In the United States, it was neglected and forgotten until its revival
on television in the mid-1950s. Three key events in 1956 led to its
re-evaluation in the United States: first, RKO was one of the first
studios to sell its library to television, and early that year Citizen
Kane started to appear on television; second, the film was re-released
theatrically to coincide with Welles's return to the New York stage,
where he played King Lear; and third, American film critic Andrew
Sarris wrote "Citizen Kane: The American Baroque" for Film Culture,
and described it as "the great American film" and "the work that
influenced the cinema more profoundly than any American film since
Birth of a Nation." Carringer considers Sarris's essay as the
most important influence on the film's reputation in the US.:119
During Expo 58, a poll of over 100 film historians named Kane one of
the top ten greatest films ever made (the group gave first-place
honors to The Battleship Potemkin). When a group of young film
directors announced their vote for the top six, they were booed for
not including the film.:152
In the decades since, its critical status as the greatest film ever
made has grown, with numerous essays and books on it including Peter
Cowie's The Cinema of Orson Welles, Ronald Gottesman's Focus on
Citizen Kane, a collection of significant reviews and background
pieces, and most notably Kael's essay, "Raising Kane", which promoted
the value of the film to a much wider audience than it had reached
before.:120 Despite its criticism of Welles, it further
popularized the notion of
Citizen Kane as the great American film. The
rise of art house and film society circuits also aided in the film's
rediscovery.:119 David Thomson said that the film 'grows with
every year as America comes to resemble it.":1172
The British magazine Sight & Sound has produced a Top Ten list
surveying film critics every decade since 1952, and is regarded as one
of the most respected barometers of critical taste. Citizen Kane
was a runner up to the top 10 in its 1952 poll but was voted as the
greatest film ever made in its 1962 poll, retaining the top spot
in every subsequent poll until 2012, when Vertigo
The film has also ranked number one in the following film "best of"
lists: Julio Castedo's The 100 Best Films of the Century, Cahiers
du cinéma's 100 films pour une cinémathèque idéale,
Kinovedcheskie Zapiski, Time Out magazine's Top 100 Films
(Centenary), The Village Voice's 100 Greatest Films, and The
Royal Belgian Film Archive's Most Important and Misappreciated
Roger Ebert called
Citizen Kane the greatest film ever made: "But
people don't always ask about the greatest film. They ask, 'What's
your favorite movie?' Again, I always answer with Citizen Kane."
Citizen Kane was an inductee of the 1989 inaugural group of 25 films
that established the
National Film Registry
National Film Registry list. 
On February 18, 1999, the
United States Postal Service
United States Postal Service honored Citizen
Kane by including it in its
Celebrate the Century
Celebrate the Century series. The
film was honored again February 25, 2003, in a series of U.S. postage
stamps marking the 75th anniversary of the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences. Art director
Perry Ferguson represents the
behind-the-scenes craftsmen of filmmaking in the series; he is
depicted completing a sketch for Citizen Kane.
Citizen Kane was ranked number one in the American Film Institute's
polls of film industry artists and leaders in 1998 and 2007.
"Rosebud" was chosen as the 17th most memorable movie quotation in a
2005 AFI poll. The film's score was one of 250 nominees for the
top 25 film scores in American cinema in another 2005 AFI poll.
In 2012, the
Motion Picture Editors Guild published a list of the 75
best-edited films of all time based on a survey of its membership.
Citizen Kane was listed second.
The film currently has a 100% rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 75
reviews by approved critics, with an average rating of 9.4/10. The
site's consensus states: "Orson Welles's epic tale of a publishing
tycoon's rise and fall is entertaining, poignant, and inventive in its
storytelling, earning its reputation as a landmark achievement in
Citizen Kane has been called the most influential film of all
Richard Corliss has asserted that Jules Dassin's 1941 film
The Tell-Tale Heart was the first example of its influence and
the first pop culture reference to the film occurred later in 1941
when the spoof comedy Hellzapoppin' featured a "Rosebud" sled.[r]
The film's cinematography was almost immediately influential and in
American Cinematographer wrote "without a doubt the most
immediately noticeable trend in cinematography methods during the year
was the trend toward crisper definition and increased depth of
The cinematography influenced John Huston's The Maltese Falcon.
Arthur Edeson used a wider-angle lens than Toland and
the film includes many long takes, low angles and shots of the
ceiling, but it did not use deep focus shots on large sets to the
Citizen Kane did. Edeson and Toland are often credited
together for revolutionizing cinematography in 1941.:48–50
Toland's cinematography influenced his own work on The Best Years of
Our Lives. Other films influenced include Gaslight, Mildred Pierce and
Jane Eyre.:85–86 Cinematographer
Kazuo Miyagawa said that his
use of deep focus was influenced by "the camera work of Gregg Toland
in Citizen Kane" and not by traditional Japanese art.
Its cinematography, lighting, and flashback structure influenced such
film noirs of the 1940s and 1950s as The Killers, Keeper of the Flame,
Caught, The Great Man:425 and This Gun for Hire.:85–86 David
Kristin Thompson have written that "For over a decade
thereafter American films displayed exaggerated foregrounds and somber
lighting, enhanced by long takes and exaggerated camera movements."
However, by the 1960s filmmakers such as those from the French New
Cinéma vérité movements favored "flatter, more shallow
images with softer focus" and Citizen Kane's style became less
fashionable. American filmmakers in the 1970s combined these two
approaches by using long takes, rapid cutting, deep focus and
telephoto shots all at once.:798 Its use of long takes influenced
films such as The Asphalt Jungle, and its use of deep focus
cinematography influenced Gun Crazy,:389–390 The Whip Hand, The
Devil's General and Justice Is Done.:414 The flashback structure
in which different characters have conflicting versions of past events
influenced La commare secca:533 and Man of Marble.:747
The film's structure influenced the biographical films Lawrence of
Arabia and Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters—which begin with the
subject's death and show their life in flashbacks—as well as
Welles's thriller Mr. Arkadin.:154 Rosenbaum sees similarities in
the film's plot to Mr. Arkadin, as well as the theme of nostalgia for
loss of innocence throughout Welles's career, beginning with Citizen
Kane and including The Magnificent Ambersons,
Mr. Arkadin and Chimes
at Midnight. Rosenbaum also points out how the film influenced Warren
Beatty's Reds. The film depicts the life of Jack Reed through the eyes
of Louise Bryant, much as Kane's life is seen through the eyes of
Thompson and the people who he interviews. Rosenbaum also compared the
romantic montage between Reed and Bryant with the breakfast table
montage in Citizen Kane.:113–116, 300–302
Rashomon is often compared to the film due to both
having complicated plot structures told by multiple characters in the
film. Welles said his initial idea for the film was "Basically, the
Rashomon used later on,":53 however Kurosawa had not yet seen
the film before making
Rashomon in 1950.:78
Nigel Andrews has
compared the film's complex plot structure to Rashomon, Last Year at
Marienbad, Memento and Magnolia. Andrews also compares Charles Foster
Michael Corleone in The Godfather,
Jake LaMotta in Raging Bull
and Daniel Plainview in
There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood for their portrayals of
"haunted megalomaniac[s], presiding over the shards of [their] own
The films of
Paul Thomas Anderson
Paul Thomas Anderson have been compared to it. Variety
There Will Be Blood
There Will Be Blood to the film and called it "one that
rivals Giant and
Citizen Kane in our popular lore as origin stories
about how we came to be the people we are." The Master has been
called "movieland's only spiritual sequel to
Citizen Kane that doesn't
shrivel under the hefty comparison" and the film's loose
L. Ron Hubbard
L. Ron Hubbard has been compared to Citizen Kane's
depiction of Hearst.
The Social Network
The Social Network has been compared to the
film for its depiction of a media mogul and by the character Erica
Albright being similar to "Rosebud". The controversy of the Sony
hacking before the release of
The Interview brought comparisons of
Hearst's attempt to suppress the film. The film's plot structure
and some specific shots influenced Todd Haynes's Velvet Goldmine.
Abbas Kiarostami's The Traveler has been called "the
Citizen Kane of
the Iranian children's cinema." The film's use of overlapping
dialogue has influenced the films of
Robert Altman and Carol
Reed.:412 Reed's films Odd Man Out,
The Third Man
The Third Man (in which Welles
and Cotten appeared) and
Outcast of the Islands
Outcast of the Islands were also influenced
by the film's cinematography.:425
Many directors have listed it as one of the greatest films ever made,
including Woody Allen, Michael Apted, Les Blank, Kenneth Branagh, Paul
Greengrass, Michel Hazanavicius, Michael Mann, Sam Mendes, Jiri
Menzel, Paul Schrader, Martin Scorsese, Denys Arcand, Gillian
Armstrong, John Boorman, Roger Corman, Alex Cox, Milos Forman, Norman
Jewison, Richard Lester, Richard Linklater, Paul Mazursky, Ronald
Neame, Sydney Pollack and Stanley Kubrick. Yasujirō Ozu
said it was his favorite non-Japanese film and was impressed by its
François Truffaut said that the film "has
inspired more vocations to cinema throughout the world than any other"
and recognized its influence in The Barefoot Contessa, Les Mauvaises
Rencontres, Lola Montès, and 8 1/2.:279–280 Truffaut's Day for
Night pays tribute to the film in a dream sequence depicting a
childhood memory of the character played by Truffaut stealing
publicity photos from the film. Numerous film directors have
cited the film as influential on their own films, including Theo
Angelopoulos, Luc Besson, the Coen brothers, Francis Ford
Coppola, Brian De Palma, John Frankenheimer, Stephen Frears, Sergio
Leone, Michael Mann, Ridley Scott, Martin Scorsese,
Bryan Singer and
Ingmar Bergman disliked the film and called it
"a total bore. Above all, the performances are worthless. The amount
of respect that movie has is absolutely unbelievable!"
William Friedkin said that the film influenced him and called it "a
veritable quarry for filmmakers, just as Joyce's Ulysses is a quarry
for writers.":210 The film has also influenced other art forms.
Carlos Fuentes's novel
The Death of Artemio Cruz
The Death of Artemio Cruz was partially
inspired by the film and the rock band
The White Stripes
The White Stripes paid
unauthorized tribute to the film in the song "The Union Forever".
In 1982, film director
Steven Spielberg bought a "Rosebud" sled for
$60,500; it was one of three balsa sleds used in the closing scenes
and the only one that was not burned. After the Spielberg
purchase, it was reported that retiree Arthur Bauer claimed to own
another "Rosebud" sled. In early 1942 when Bauer was 12 he won an
RKO publicity contest and selected the hardwood sled as his
prize. In 1996, Bauer's estate offered the painted pine sled at
auction through Christie's. Bauer's son told
CBS News that his
mother had once wanted to paint the sled and use it as a plant stand,
but Bauer told her to "just save it and put it in the closet."
The sled was sold to an anonymous bidder for $233,500.
Welles's Oscar for Best Original Screenplay was believed to be lost
until it was rediscovered in 1994. It was withdrawn from a 2007
Sotheby's when bidding failed to reach its estimate of
$800,000 to $1.2 million. Owned by the charitable Dax
Foundation, it was auctioned for $861,542 in 2011 to an anonymous
buyer. Mankiewicz's Oscar was sold at least twice, in 1999 and
again in 2012, the latest price being $588,455.
In 1989, Mankiewicz's personal copy of the
Citizen Kane script was
auctioned at Christie's. The leather-bound volume included the final
shooting script and a carbon copy of American that bore handwritten
annotations—purportedly made by Hearst's lawyers, who were said to
have obtained it in the manner described by Kael in "Raising
Kane". Estimated to bring $70,000 to $90,000, it sold
for a record $231,000.
In 2007, Welles's personal copy of the last revised draft of Citizen
Kane before the shooting script was sold at
$97,000. A second draft of the script titled American, marked
"Mr. Welles' working copy", was auctioned by
Sotheby's in 2014 for
$164,692.[s] A collection of 24 pages from a working script found
in Welles's personal possessions by his daughter
Beatrice Welles was
auctioned in 2014 for $15,000.
In 2014, a collection of approximately 235
Citizen Kane stills and
production photos that had belonged to Welles was sold at auction for
Rights and home video
The composited camera negative of
Citizen Kane was destroyed in a New
Jersey film laboratory fire in the 1970s. Subsequent prints were
derived from a master positive (a fine-grain preservation element)
made in the 1940s and originally intended for use in overseas
distribution. Modern techniques were used to produce a pristine
print for a 50th Anniversary theatrical reissue in 1991 which
Paramount released for then-owner Turner Broadcasting System,
which earned $1.6 million in North America.
In 1955, RKO sold the American television rights to its film library,
including Citizen Kane, to C&C Television Corp. In 1960,
television rights to the pre-1956 RKO library were acquired by United
Artists. RKO kept the non-broadcast television rights to its
In 1976, when home video was in its infancy, entrepreneur Snuff
Garrett bought cassette rights to the RKO library for what United
Press International termed "a pittance." In 1978 The Nostalgia
Merchant released the film through Media Home Entertainment. By 1980
the 800-title library of The Nostalgia Merchant was earning $2.3
million a year. "Nobody wanted cassettes four years ago," Garrett told
UPI. "It wasn't the first time people called me crazy. It was a hobby
with me which became big business." RKO Home Video released the
Betamax in 1985.
The Criterion Collection
The Criterion Collection released the film as its first
LaserDisc. It was made from a fine grain master positive provided by
the UCLA Film and Television Archive. When told about the
then-new concept of having an audio commentary on the disc, Welles was
skeptical but said "theoretically, that's good for teaching movies, so
long as they don't talk nonsense.":283 In 1992 Criterion released
a new 50th Anniversary Edition LaserDisc. This version had an improved
transfer and additional special features, including the documentary
The Legacy of
Citizen Kane and Welles's early short The Hearts of
Turner Broadcasting System
Turner Broadcasting System acquired broadcast television rights to the
RKO library in 1986 and the full worldwide rights to the library
in 1987. The RKO Home Video unit was reorganized into Turner Home
Entertainment that year. In 1991 Turner released a 50th
Anniversary Edition on
VHS and as a collector's edition that includes
the film, the documentary Reflections On Citizen Kane, Harlan Lebo's
50th anniversary album, a poster and a copy of the original
script. In 1996,
Time Warner acquired Turner and Warner Home
Video absorbed Turner Home Entertainment. Today, Time Warner's
Warner Bros. unit has distribution rights for the film.
Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video released a 60th Anniversary Collectors
Edition DVD. The two-disc
DVD included feature-length commentaries by
Roger Ebert and Peter Bogdanovich, as well as a second
DVD with the
feature length documentary
The Battle Over Citizen Kane
The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1999). It was
simultaneously released on VHS. The
DVD was criticized for being
"too bright, too clean; the dirt and grime had been cleared away, but
so had a good deal of the texture, the depth, and the sense of film
In 2003, Welles's daughter
Beatrice Welles sued Turner Entertainment,
claiming the Welles estate is the legal copyright holder of the film.
She claimed that Welles's deal to terminate his contracts with RKO
meant that Turner's copyright of the film was null and void. She also
claimed that the estate of
Orson Welles was owed 20% of the film's
profits if her copyright claim was not upheld. In 2007 she was allowed
to proceed with the lawsuit, overturning the 2004 decision in favor of
Turner Entertainment on the issue of video rights.
In 2011, it was released on
DVD in a 70th Anniversary
San Francisco Chronicle
San Francisco Chronicle called it "the Blu-ray
release of the year." Supplements included everything available
Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video release, including The Battle Over
Citizen Kane DVD. A 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition
added a third
RKO 281 (1999), an award winning TV movie about
the making of the film. Its packaging extras included a hardcover book
and a folio containing mini reproductions of the original souvenir
program, lobby cards, and production memos and correspondence.
The transfer for the US releases were scanned as
4K resolution from
three different 35mm prints and rectified the quality issues of the
2001 DVD. The rest of the world continued to receive home video
releasees based on the older transfer. This was partially rectified in
2016 with the release of the 75th Anniversary Edition in both the UK
and US, which was a straight repackaging of the main disc from the
70th Anniversary Edition.
In the 1980s,
Citizen Kane became a catalyst in the controversy over
the colorization of black-and-white films. One proponent of film
colorization was Ted Turner, whose Turner Entertainment Company
owned the RKO library. A Turner Entertainment spokesperson
initially stated that
Citizen Kane would not be colorized, but in
July 1988 Turner said, "Citizen Kane? I'm thinking of colorizing
it." In early 1989 it was reported that two companies were
producing color tests for Turner Entertainment. Criticism increased
Henry Jaglom stated that shortly before his death
Welles had implored him "don't let
Ted Turner deface my movie with his
In February 1989, Turner Entertainment president Roger Mayer announced
that work to colorize the film had been stopped due to provisions in
Welles's 1939 contract with RKO that "could be read to prohibit
colorization without permission of the Welles estate." Mayer
added that Welles's contract was "quite unusual" and "other contracts
we have checked out are not like this at all." Turner had only
colorized the final reel of the film before abandoning the project. In
1991 one minute of the colorized test footage was included in the BBC
Arena documentary The Complete Citizen Kane.[t]
The colorization controversy was a factor in the passage of the
National Film Preservation Act in 1988 which created the National Film
Registry the following year.
ABC News anchor
Peter Jennings reported
that "one major reason for doing this is to require people like the
broadcaster Ted Turner, who's been adding color to some movies and
re-editing others for television, to put notices on those versions
saying that the movies have been altered".
List of films considered the best
List of films with a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, a film review
RKO 281, a made-for-television film based on the making of Citizen
Bazin, André. The Technique of Citizen Kane. Paris, France: Les Temps
modernes 2, number 17, 1947. pages 943–949.
Biskind, Peter (ed.), Jaglom, Henry and Welles, Orson. My Lunches with
Orson: Conversations between
Henry Jaglom and Orson Welles. New York:
Metropolitan Books, 2013. ISBN 978-0-8050-9725-2.
Bogdanovich, Peter and Welles, Orson. This is Orson Welles.
HarperPerennial 1992. ISBN 0-06-092439-X
Bogdanovich, Peter and Welles, Orson (uncredited). "The Kane Mutiny",
in Esquire, October 1972.[u][v]
Brady, Frank. Citizen Welles: A Biography of Orson Welles. New York:
Charles Scribner's Sons, 1989. ISBN 0-385-26759-2.
Callow, Simon. Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu. London: Jonathan
Cape, 1995. ISBN 0-224-03852-4
Carringer, Robert L. The Making of Citizen Kane. Berkeley and Los
University of California
University of California Press, 1985. ISBN 0-520-05367-2
hardcover; 1996 revised and updated edition ISBN 0-520-20567-7
Carringer, Robert L. "The Scripts of Citizen Kane", in Critical
Inquiry No. 5, 1978.[w][x]
Cook, David A. A History of Narrative Film. W.W. Norton Company, 2004.
Gottesman, Ronald (ed.). Focus on Citizen Kane. Englewood Cliffs,
N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1976. ISBN 0-13-949214-3
Gottesman, Ronald (ed.). Perspectives on Citizen Kane. New York: G. K.
Hall & Co., 1996. ISBN 978-0-8161-1616-4
Heylin, Clinton. Despite the System:
Orson Welles Versus the Hollywood
Studios, Chicago Review Press, 2005. ISBN 1-55652-547-8
Howard, James. The Complete Films of Orson Welles. New York: Carol
Publishing Group, 1991. ISBN 0-8065-1241-5.
Kael, Pauline, Welles, Orson and Mankiewicz, Herman J. The Citizen
Kane Book. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1971.[y]
Leaming, Barbara. Orson Welles, A Biography. New York:
1985. ISBN 978-0-618-15446-3.
Meryman, Richard. Mank: The Wit, World and Life of Herman Mankiewicz.
New York: William Morrow and Company, 1978.
Mulvey, Laura. Citizen Kane. London: British Film Institute, 1992.
Naremore, James (ed.). Orson Welles's Citizen Kane: A Casebook in
Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
Nasaw, David. The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst. New
York: Houghton Mifflin, 2000. ISBN 978-0-618-15446-3
Rippy, Marguerite H.
Orson Welles and the Unfinished RKO Projects: A
Postmodern Perspective. Southern Illinois University Press, Illinois,
2009. ISBN 978-0-8093-2912-0
Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "I Missed It at the Movies: Objections to
'Raising Kane'", in Film Comment, Spring 1972.[z]
^ "I did a very elaborate production for [Heart of Darkness], such as
I've never done again—never could," Welles said. "I shot my bolt on
preproduction on that picture. We designed every camera setup and
everything else—did enormous research in aboriginal, Stone Age
cultures in order to reproduce what the story called for. I'm sorry
not to have got the chance to do it.":31
^ Welles later used the subjective camera in The Magnificent
Ambersons, in a sequence that was later all but eliminated because it
did not work in that picture. "
Heart of Darkness
Heart of Darkness is one of the few
stories that it's very well adapted to, because it relies so heavily
on narration," Welles said. "The camera was going to be
Marlow ... He's in the pilot house and he can see himself
reflected in the glass through which you see the jungle. So it isn't
that business of a hand-held camera mooching around pretending to walk
like a man.":31
^ First published in Critical Inquiry, "The Scripts of Citizen Kane"
was described by Rosenbaum as "the definitive piece of scholarship on
the authorship of Kane—and sadly one of the least well known". He
wrote that many biographers may wrongly assume that Carringer included
all of its facts in his later book, The Making of Citizen
^ Welles states, "There's all that stuff about McCormick and the
opera. I drew a lot from that from my Chicago days. And Samuel
^ Charlie Lederer insisted that Hearst and Davies never saw Citizen
Kane and condemned it based on the outrage of trusted friends, wrote
his stepdaughter (and Welles's daughter) Chris Welles Feder. "In
Charlie's view, Hearst was more distressed by the movie's
insinuation ... that Marion was a failed and pathetic alcoholic
that he was by any unflattering references to himself."
^ According to RKO records, Sloane was paid $2,400 for shaving his
^ Speaking to Bogdanovich, Welles corrects himself when speaking about
who suggested the "test" shooting: "That was Toland's idea—no, it
was Ferguson's idea, the art director.":19:25–19:31
^ "I used the whole Mercury cast, heavily disguised by darkness,"
Welles said. "And there they all are—if you look carefully, you can
see them. Everybody in the movie is in it. ... Yes, I'm
^ No figures can be found for the cost of filming Susan's attempted
suicide, but filming the nightclub scene was budgeted at $1,038 and
^ "It took nerve to shoot from down there, with that steel brace right
in front of the camera, but I thought rightly that at that point
they'd be looking at Leland and not at me.":61–62
^ Speaking of the credit given Toland, Welles said, "Nobody in those
days—only the stars, the director, and the producer—got separate
cards. Gregg deserved it, didn't he?":61
^ Such respect for Toland was not without precedent.
John Ford had
also shared his title card with the cinematographer in the opening
The Long Voyage Home
The Long Voyage Home (1940).
^ Seiderman's work with contact lenses in films led to a medical
formula for soft contact lenses that he developed in the 1970s.
^ After becoming head of the RKO make-up department, Seiderman left in
1946 to help recreate faces for disfigured U.S. soldiers.
Kevin Brownlow believes that Lean's brother David was influential on
(if not co-writer of) this review. Years later Welles thanked David
Lean for the article.:notes
^ 871,261 admissions
^ Bordwell has hypothesized that Bazin was influenced by publicity
about the film's innovations that were published in France during its
first release. These included interviews by Welles and the publication
of Toland's article "The Motion Picture Cameraman" in the January 1947
issue of La Revue du Cinéma. Bordwell believes that Bazin was aware
of the legend of film's innovations before having seen it.:72–73
^ Another early pop culture reference occurred in Welles's The
Magnificent Ambersons, which includes a brief glimpse of a newspaper
article written by "Jed Leland".
^ The same item had been sold by
Christie's in December 1991, together
with a working script from The Magnificent Ambersons, for
^ The colorized
Citizen Kane footage appears at approximately 1:17:00.
^ Reprinted in Gottesman, Ronald (ed.). Focus on Citizen Kane.
Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1976. ISBN 0-13-949214-3
^ Excerpted in "My Orson", Bogdanovich's new introduction to the
second edition of This is Orson Welles:xxiv–xxvii
^ Reprinted in Gottesman, Ronald (ed.). Perspectives on Citizen Kane.
New York: G.K. Hall & Co., 1996. ISBN 978-0-8161-1616-4
^ Reprinted in Naremore, James (ed.). Orson Welles's Citizen Kane: A
Casebook in Criticism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004.
^ Contains Kael's controversial and much-derided essay "Raising Kane",
originally printed in
The New Yorker
The New Yorker (February 20 and 27, 1971), as
well as the full script by Mankiewicz and Welles.
^ Reprinted in Rosenbaum, Jonathan (ed.). Discovering Orson Welles.
University of California
University of California Press, 2007,
^ "CITIZEN KANE (A)". British Board of Film Classification. August 1,
1941. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
^ Carringer, Robert L. (October 24, 1996). "The Making of Citizen
Kane, Revised Edition".
University of California Press
University of California Press – via Google
Citizen Kane (1941)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved January 16,
Citizen Kane (DVD).
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. 2 March
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x "
Citizen Kane Movie
American Film Institute
American Film Institute Catalog of Motion Pictures
Produced in the United States: Feature Films, 1941 – 1950.
Retrieved April 14, 2014.
^ Naremore, James (1989). The Magic World of
Orson Welles (2nd ed.).
Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press.
Citizen Kane (
Roger Ebert audio commentary) (DVD).
Warner Bros. Home
Entertainment. 2 March 2009.
^ Johnston, Alva; Smith, Fred (February 3, 1940). "How to Raise a
Child (part 3)". The Saturday Evening Post: 27, 28, 40, 45. Retrieved
5 December 2014.
^ a b c d e f g Brady, Frank (1989). Citizen Welles: A Biography of
Orson Welles. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae
af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb
bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq Carringer, Robert L.
(1985). The Making of Citizen Kane. Berkeley and Los Angeles:
University of California
University of California Press. ISBN 978-0-520-20567-3.
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae
af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as Leaming, Barbara (1985).
Orson Welles, A Biography. New York:
^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae
af ag ah ai aj ak al Welles, Orson; Bogdanovich, Peter; Rosenbaum,
Jonathan (1992). This is Orson Welles. New York: HarperCollins
Publishers. ISBN 0-06-016616-9.
^ a b c d e f Meryman, Richard (1978). Mank: The Wit, World and Life
of Herman Mankiewicz. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc.
^ a b Callow, Simon (1996). Orson Welles: The Road to Xanadu. New
York: Viking. ISBN 978-0-670-86722-6.
^ a b c d e Whaley, Barton (2005). Orson Welles: The Man Who Was
Magic. Lybrary.com. ASIN B005HEHQ7E.
Citizen Kane Film Book Due in Fall". The Bakersfield Californian.
June 6, 1971. On Oct. 28, Atlantic–Little, Brown will publish The
Citizen Kane Book, an outsize volume that will include not only
'Raising Kane' but also, as Miss Kael had always intended, the
complete, original text of the Mankiewicz–Welles shooting script,
published here for the first time.
^ a b Kael, Pauline; Welles, Orson; Mankiewicz, Herman J. (1971).
Raising Kane by Pauline Kael". The
Citizen Kane Book. Boston: Little,
Brown and Company. pp. 1–84. OCLC 209252. Retrieved 18
^ McCarthy, Todd (August 22, 1997). "Welles pic script scrambles
H'wood history". Variety. Retrieved January 7, 2015.
^ Patterson, John (September 6, 2001). "Exit the hatchet woman: Why
Pauline Kael was bad for world cinema". The Guardian. Retrieved
January 6, 2015.
^ Rich, Frank (October 27, 2011). "Roaring at the Screen with Pauline
Kael". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 August 2015.
^ a b Carringer, Robert L. (2004) [first published 1978]. "The Scripts
of Citizen Kane". In Naremore, James. Orson Welles's Citizen Kane: A
Casebook. Oxford University Press. pp. 79–121.
^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan (editor) (2007). Discovering Orson Welles.
University of California
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^ a b c Houseman, John (1972). Run-Through: A Memoir. New York: Simon
& Schuster. ISBN 0-671-21034-3.
^ a b Estrin, Mark W. (editor) (2002). Orson Welles: Interviews.
Jackson, Mississippi: University Press of Mississippi.
ISBN 978-1-57806-209-6. CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list
^ a b Epstein, Michael; Lennon, Thomas (1996). "The Battle Over
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^ Feder, Chris Welles (2009). In My Father's Shadow: A Daughter
Remembers Orson Welles. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books.
p. 44. ISBN 978-1-56512-599-5.
^ Davies, Marion (1975). Pfau, Pamela; Marx, Kenneth S., eds. The
Times We Had: Life with William Randolph Hearst. Foreword by Orson
Welles (two pages preceding unpaginated chapter index). Indianapolis
and New York: Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc.
^ McGilligan, Patrick (2015). Young Orson. New York: Harper.
p. 697. ISBN 978-0-06-211248-4.
^ French, Philip (July 7, 1991). "Review: The world's favourite
Citizen". The Observer.
^ Ebert, Roger (January 1, 2004). "A Viewer's Companion to 'Citizen
Kane'". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved June 2, 2010.
^ Gilling, Ted (May 7, 1989). "Real to Reel: Newsreels and
re-enactments help trio of documentaries make history come alive".
Orson Welles on the Air: The Radio Years. Catalogue for exhibition
October 28 – December 3, 1988. New York: The Museum of Broadcasting.
^ a b Wood, Bret (1990). Orson Welles: A Bio-Bibliography. Westport,
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^ a b c d e f g h Mulvey, Laura (1992). Citizen Kane. London, UK: BFI
Publishing. ISBN 978-1-84457-497-1.
^ a b c "American Composers Orchestra – David Raksin remembers
his colleagues". Americancomposers.org. Retrieved January 22,
^ a b c d e f Higham, Charles (1985). Orson Welles: The Rise and Fall
of an American Genius. New York: St. Martin's Press.
^ a b "Ten Little Winged Mercuries; Introducing the Band of Lads and
Lassies in 'Citizen Kane'". The New York Times. May 4, 1941.
^ Lowrance, Dee (July 19, 1942). "Lady Luck: Movieland's Best Talent
Scout". The San Bernardino County Sun. The San Bernardino County Sun.
p. 24. Retrieved January 16, 2016 – via Newspapers.com.
^ a b c d e f g h i j Biskind, Peter; Jaglom, Henry; Welles, Orson
(2013). My Lunches with Orson: Conversations between
Henry Jaglom and
Orson Welles. New York: Metropolitan Books.
^ Howard, James (1991). The Complete Films of Orson Welles. New York:
Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8065-1241-5.
^ Carringer, Robert L. (1993). The Magnificent Ambersons: A
Reconstruction. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California
Press. ISBN 0-520-07857-8.
^ a b c Thomas, Bob, ed. (1973). "
Citizen Kane Remembered [May–June
1969]". Directors in Action: Selections from Action, The Official
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Find more aboutCitizen Kaneat's sister projects
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Data from Wikidata
Citizen Kane on IMDb
Citizen Kane at the TCM Movie Database
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American Film Institute
American Film Institute Catalog
Citizen Kane at Rotten Tomatoes
Citizen Kane bibliography via the UC Berkeley Media Resources Center
The American Film Institute's "100 Greatest Movies" list
Citizen Kane and Bernard Herrmann's film score
Citizen Kane (Archived)
Bright Lights Film Journal Essay
Roger Ebert: Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane Page
Time Magazine Top 100
Citizen Kane at TV Tropes
Scene-by-scene analysis at Movie Movie
Awards and nominations
Citizen Kane (1941)
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
The Stranger (1946)
The Lady from Shanghai
The Lady from Shanghai (1947)
Mr. Arkadin (1955)
Touch of Evil
Touch of Evil (1958)
The Trial (1962)
Chimes at Midnight
Chimes at Midnight (1965)
The Immortal Story
The Immortal Story (1968)
F for Fake
F for Fake (1974)
Filming Othello (1979)
Twelfth Night (1933)
The Hearts of Age (1934)
The Green Goddess (lost film) (1939)
Citizen Kane trailer
Citizen Kane trailer (1940)
Around the World (lost film) (1946)
The Miracle of St. Anne (lost film) (1950)
Magic Trick (1953)
The Dominici Affair (1955)
Portrait of Gina (1958)
An Evening with
Orson Welles (1970)
Orson's Bag (1968–69)
incorporating Vienna (1968)
The Merchant of Venice (1969)
One Man Band, aka London (1968–71)
Moby Dick (1971)
Orson Welles' Magic Show (1976–85)
The Spirit of Charles Lindbergh (1984)
Too Much Johnson
Too Much Johnson (1938)
It's All True (1942)
Don Quixote (1957–69)
The Heroine (lost film) (1967)
The Deep (1967–70)
The Other Side of the Wind
The Other Side of the Wind (1970–76)
Filming 'The Trial' (1981)
The Dreamers (1980–82)
Orson Welles' Sketch Book
Orson Welles' Sketch Book (1955)
Around the World with
Orson Welles (1955)
Orson Welles and People (lost) (1956)
The Fountain of Youth (1958)
In the Land of Don Quixote (1964)
Orson Welles Show (1979)
Marching Song (1932)
Voodoo Macbeth (1936)
Horse Eats Hat
Horse Eats Hat (1936)
Too Much Johnson
Too Much Johnson (1938)
Native Son (1941)
The Mercury Wonder Show
The Mercury Wonder Show (1943)
Around the World (musical)
Around the World (musical) (1946)
The Lady in the Ice (ballet) (1953)
Moby Dick—Rehearsed (1955)
Les Misérables (1937)
The Shadow (1937–38)
Mercury Theatre on the Air (including "The War of the Worlds")
The Campbell Playhouse (1938–40)
Orson Welles Show (1941–42)
Ceiling Unlimited (1942–43)
Hello Americans (1942–43)
Orson Welles Almanac (1944)
This Is My Best (1945)
Orson Welles Commentaries (1945–46)
The Mercury Summer Theatre on the Air
The Mercury Summer Theatre on the Air (1946)
The Adventures of Harry Lime (1951–52)
The Black Museum
The Black Museum (1951–52)
The Happy Prince (1946)
The Airborne Symphony (1966)
The Begatting of the President (1970)
Orson Welles (1992)
Les Bravades (1996)
Orson Welles Paul Masson adverts
It's All True: Based on an Unfinished Film by
Orson Welles (1993
Orson Welles (crater)
Magician: The Astonishing Life and Work of
Orson Welles (2014
BFI Sight & Sound Poll
The Gold Rush
Intolerance: Love's Struggle Throughout the Ages
Le Jour Se Lève
The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Rules of the Game
The Rules of the Game
Ivan the Terrible
La Terra Trema
The Rules of the Game
The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Magnificent Ambersons
The Rules of the Game
Singin' in the Rain
The Magnificent Ambersons
The Rules of the Game
The Passion of Joan of Arc
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Godfather Part II
The Passion of Joan of Arc
The Rules of the Game
The Godfather Part II
2001: A Space Odyssey
Singin' in the Rain
The Godfather /
The Godfather Part II
Lawrence of Arabia
Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
The Rules of the Game
The Rules of the Game
2001: A Space Odyssey
Man with a Movie Camera
The Passion of Joan of Arc
2001: A Space Odyssey
The Sight & Sound Top 50 Greatest Films of All Time
Man with a Movie Camera
Night and Fog
The Thin Blue Line
Chronique d'un été
Nanook of the North
The Gleaners and I
Dont Look Back
Cahiers du cinéma's Top Ten Films
The Night of the Hunter
The Rules of the Game
Singin' in the Rain
Children of Paradise