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.