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  • by David C. Terr

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    citizen kane movie posterTitle: Citizen Kane

    Director: Orson Welles

    Starring: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Ruth Warrick, Everett Sloane, George Coulouris, Ray Collins, Agnes Moorehead

    Release Date: May 1, 1941

    Running Time: 119 min

    Genres: Drama, Mystery, News


    Citizen Kane is the amazing story of the life of news tycoon Charles Foster Kane (Welles), including his rise to power, his megalomania, his many affairs, and his death. Many movie critics consider it to be the greatest film of all time, but I wouldn't go nearly that far! I think it's an entertaining and thought-provoking film with great direction and cinematography, but all-in-all I'd just say it's good, not great.

    Plot Summary

    • Introduction: The film begins with Kane looking into a water-filled fake snow container and uttering the mysterious last word "Rosebud" just before he dies. Various reporters are gathered around his deathbed and wondering what he meant by this, so they start discussing his life.
    • Childhood: As a child, Kane was abandoned by his mother (Moorehead) and sent to live with her banker.
    • Entrance Into Newspaper Business: When he grows up, he enters into the newspaper industry by writing profit-seeking yellow journalism.
    • Rise to Power: Kane soon becomes rich and powerful. He marries the President's niece and runs for governor.
    • Scandal: Kane's political aspirations are cut short after he has an affair. His first wife divorces him and he remarries, but his second marriage fails as well, due to his extreme arrogance and domineering attitude.
    • Rosebud: After he dies, the reporters are unable to determine the meaning of his last word, but at the end of the movie, we see that it's the name of the sled he had as a boy.

    Connection to William Randolph Hearst
    Most people agree that this movie is about the real newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. Wells denied this, but Hearst was so upset by the depiction of Kane, which he assumed to be himself, that he did everything possible to suppress the film. Ironically, in the long run, this probably made the movie more popular.

    Movie Clips

    Here's the original movie trailer.


    Here's the classic opening scene.


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