Citizen Kane: Exposing the Truth about William Randolph Hearst

analytical Essay
3867 words
3867 words

Citizen Kane: Exposing the Truth about William Randolph Hearst

Many have called Citizen Kane the greatest cinematic achievement of all time. It is indeed a true masterpiece of acting, screen writing, and directing. Orson Welles, its young genius director, lead actor, and a co-writer, used the best talents and techniques of the day (Bordwell 103) to tell the story of a newspaper giant, Charles Kane, through the eyes of the people who loved and hated him. However, when it came out, it was scorned by Hollywood and viewed only in the private theaters of RKO, the producer.

Nominated for nine Academy Awards, it was practically booed off the stage, and only won one award, that for Best Screenplay, which Welles and Herman Mankiewicz shared (Mulvey 10). This was all due to the pressure applied by the greatest newspaper man of the time, one of the most powerful men in the nation, the man Citizen Kane portrayed as a corrupt power monger, namely William Randolph Hearst.

One cannot ignore the striking similarities between Hearst and Kane. In order to make clear at the outset exactly what he intended to do, Orson Welles included a few details about the young Kane that, given even a rudimentary knowledge of Hearst's life, would have set one thinking about the life of that newspaper giant. Shortly after the film opens, a reporter is seen trying to discover the meaning of Kane's last word, "Rosebud." He begins his search by going through the records of Kane's boyhood guardian, Thatcher. The scene comes to life in midwinter at the Kane boarding house.

Kane's mother has come into one of the richest gold mines in the world through a defaulting boarder, and at age twenty-five, Kane will inherit his sixty million dollars (Citizen Kane)...

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...r himself by abusing the most potent weapon and shield of his day, the free press. "If I hadn't been very rich, I might have been a really great man." (Orson Welles, Citizen Kane)


1)Bordwell, David. "Citizen Kane," Focus on Orson Welles. Prentice-Hall,1976.

2)Cowie, Peter. The Cinema of Orson Welles. De Capo Press, 1973.

3)Citizen Kane. dir. Orson Welles. With Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore. RKO, 1941.

4)Mulvey, Laura. Citizen Kane. BFI, 1992.

5)Reflections on Citizen Kane. dir. Unknown. Turner Home Entertainment,1991.

6)Robinson, Judith. The Hearsts: an American Dynasty. Avon Books, 1991.

7)Swanberg, W.A. Citizen Hearst. Scribner, 1961. Bantam Matrix Edition, 1967.

8)Zinman, David. Fifty Classic Motion Pictures: The Stuff that Dreams are Made Of. NY Crown Publishers, 1970. NY Limelight Editions, 1992.

In this essay, the author

  • Explains that hearst's maneuvers involved embellishing and exaggerating the news to get circulation, and stealing talented newspapermen from other newspapers, which annoyed joseph pulitzer to no end.
  • Analyzes how bernstein's narration ended with kane announcing his purchase of the largest diamond in the world.
  • Explains zinman's fifty classic motion pictures: the stuff that dreams are made of.
  • Analyzes how orson welles used the best talents of the day to tell the story of a newspaper giant, charles kane, through the eyes of people who loved and hated him.
  • Analyzes how leland, one of kane's only friends, explained how no one could understand him because of the contradictions in his beliefs and life.
  • Analyzes how orson welles based his movie around the life of william randolph hearst, a fact which upset him to no end.
  • Analyzes how orson welles' criticism of hearst was the way in which he used his immense power over the people of the country to gain personal power.
  • Analyzes how orson welles directed, starred in, and helped to write possibly the greatest film of all time to denounce william randolph hearst.
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