Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB. USA, 1941. RKO Radio Pictures, Mercury Productions. Screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles. Cinematography by Gregg Toland. Produced by Orson Welles. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Production Design by Van Nest Polglase. Costume Design by Edward Stevenson. Film Editing by Robert Wise. Academy Awards 1941.
A fictionalized account of the rise to power of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst, with Orson Welles brilliantly playing Charles Foster Kane from young upstart to old tycoon. Welles directs the film with undeniably creative power that utilizes European auteur flourishes, populating the story with colourful characters brilliantly brought to life by many actors from his early theatre days. Impeccably photographed by Gregg Toland, there’s absolutely not one shot of this film that you want to miss. However technically brilliant, it also has a humdinger of a script to back it up, one rife with personal conflict and high-level drama. Hearst himself did much to try and have the film destroyed, but unfortunately his ambition was an unlived one. Marvelous examinations of the making of this classic were seen in the Oscar-nominated documentary The Battle Over Citizen Kane and in the brilliant Ridley Scott-produced, Golden Globe-winning telefilm RKO 281 starring Liev Schreiber as Welles.