Citizen Kane (1941)

citizen kane movie poster 1941 citizen kane
10 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

The quintessential character study and film


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Citizen Kane

Studio:  Mercury Productions

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  May 1, 1941 (Premiere)/September 5, 1941 (US)

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

citizen kane snowglobe rosebud beginning


“Rosebud.”  It is the the last word of reclusive millionaire Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles).  With Kane’s death, Jerry Thompson (William Alland) is sent out to uncover the meaning of “Rosebud”, and it means diving into Kane’s illustrious and infamous past which includes newspaper publishing, a failed stab at government, shattered marriages, and a mansion on the hilltop.  Kane is a mystery…and Rosebud might be his past or even more.

Produced, directed, written (with Herman J. Mankiewicz), and starring Orson Welles, Citizen Kane is Orson Welles’ first film.  The movie was released to critical acclaim but was a box office failure and the subject of attacks by William Randolph Hearst of which Kane was partially based.  The film received the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay and nominations for Outstanding Motion Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Art Direction (Black and White), Best Cinematography (Black and White), Best Film Editing, Best Music (Dramatic Score), and Best Sound Recording.  The Criterion Collection released a remastered version of the film (Criterion #1104).

citizen kane sled rosebud anges moorehead

Childhood is the best!!! Especially when your parents give you to rich people

There can be nothing else said about the masterpiece of Citizen Kane.  Every film critic has lauded it and every award (after missing the Academy Awards).  Like everyone else, Citizen Kane that ranks up there with the best films of all time.

The story was revolutionary.  It is part Rashomon and non-linear storytelling.  With “Rosebud” as the goal, a man’s life unfolds as told by different people with their own bias opinions.  While one interview may tell something that Kane did that hurt someone, a second interview might reveal why he took the action.  The great puzzle for the movie however is trying to dissect Charles Foster Kane himself who is one of the most complex characters of cinema…and this is something that wasn’t being done at the time.

citizen kane campaign speech orson welles

I have a big head…literally

It is a big credit to Welles that he could keep such great control of the movie while acting in it.  His actions and motivations are questioned but he holds the film.  Welles has a great backup cast including Joseph Cotton, Agnes Moorehead, and Ray Collins among other people who could easily have been stock characters but make their .  Ruth Warrick and Dorothy Comingore play the women in Kane’s life.

The movie is also a visual masterpiece.  Between the great sets and unusual shooting styles, the movie really was steps above other films of the time.  Despite being able to be shot in color, Citizen Kane works much better as a black-and-white film…with the shadows hiding the actors and scenes just like Kane is hidden.

Citizen Kane is a must for understanding film.  The innovations, the storytelling, and the cast make it a classic and make it a highly influential film.  The movie not only helps you understand film, but it’s story is also just as interesting as the story within the movie.  The challenge of making the movie and what happened to Welles as a result has been chronicled in books and in documentaries…Citizen Kane is a masterpiece that stands the test of time.

Related Links:

The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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