Directed by Orson Welles
Written by Orson Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz
Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Agnes Moorehead, Ruth Warrick, Ray Collins
During his lifetime, Charles Foster Kane had transformed himself into a polarizing figure in media and politics. At his death the newspaper tycoon uttered one word, “Rosebud”. Now reporters are scrambling to understand the meaning of the word he uttered with his last breath. Their search reveals a lifetime of successes and failures in every aspect of Kane’s life.
Orson Welles directed and starred in this classic piece of cinema. He also co-wrote the screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz (The Pride of the Yankees). All of this work is even more impressive since it was going into his directorial debut. The result of the work is one of the most critically acclaimed films of all time. Most major film organizations rank this film among the top three movies ever made. The technique and artistry behind it are incredible.
The story came from the combined efforts of Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz. Their partnership and shared vision came together to create a unique story told from the point of view of those around Kane. The dialogue features a range of styles and works to diversify the characters within the film. There is a balanced amount of humor and cynicism, as well as tragedy and nostalgia. Their efforts helped the film to earn it’s only Oscar, taking home the Best Original Screenplay statue.
The camera work on Citizen Kane is some of the most groundbreaking seen in the studio era films of Hollywood. Welles used creative lighting, angles, and set designs to create dynamic images that still look incredible after more than 70 years. Welles also created an interesting depth in his films thanks to the use of deep focus. This technique made everything in the frame count. This film seems to have purpose for every aspect of the scenes, yet it’s so intricate that it encourages repeated viewings.
The acting in this film is incredible. Orson Welles pulled off a masterful performance in the title role. Most of the success of the film requires Kane to become larger than life, and this was accomplished with incredible results. The rest of the cast also do wonderful work in the film. The cast included Joseph Cotten (The Third Man), Dorothy Comingore (The Big Night), Agnes Moorehead (The Magnificent Ambersons), Ruth Warrick (Song of the South), and Ray Collins (The Best Years of Our Lives).
Orson Welles knew what he was doing, even as he began working on his first major film. He exerted an unprecedented amount of control over his film at the height of the studio era of Hollywood. This went as far as barring the executives from RKO from visiting the set. His genius and imagination created one of the most incredible movies ever made.
In addition to the win for Best Original Screenplay, this film earned another 8 Academy Award nominations. The nominations included Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Editing, and Best Score. This film catapulted Welles into the film elite and gave us a classic American movie. If you’ve never seen this film this is one that’s worth every minute. I would recommend this movie to anyone. It’s got a great story and visuals that reset the standards of Hollywood film-making. I give this one 5 out of 5 stars.