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Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane, by Orson Welles

DVD review of Citizen Kane, one of the great movies of the 20th Century, starring, produced and written by Orson Welles

Citizen Kane has been lauded as one of the the greatest films of the 20th Century, and justifiably so.  Directed by and starring Orson Welles as the famous millionaire, Charles Foster Kane.  Kane is a barely-disguised rendering of William Randolph Hearst, and the film begins with his death, as he drops a snow globe and dies, uttering his final word, “Rosebud.” The movie proceeds with a journalist trying to unravel the mystery of the millionaire’s life, seeking to find out who, or what, Rosebud was—by interviewing the various friends, enemies and acquaintances of Kane’s.  The movie

The movie proceeds in flashback, telling the story of Kane, as seen from the perspective of friends, enemies, ex-wives and former employees, with the pieces of the puzzle slowly falling into place.  By the end of the movie, the audience knows who Kane was, the tragedy of his life, and about ‘Rosebud’—although none of the movie’s characters do.  It’s a fine movie, well deserving of it’s reputation, and definitely worth watching.

Editorial Review of Citizen Kane courtesy of Amazon.com

Citizen Kane, written, produced by and starring Orson Welles

Arguably the greatest of American films, Orson Welles’s 1941 masterpiece, made when he was only 26, still unfurls like a dream and carries the viewer along the mysterious currents of time and memory to reach a mature (if ambiguous) conclusion: people are the sum of their contradictions, and can’t be known easily. Welles plays newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, taken from his mother as a boy and made the ward of a rich industrialist. The result is that every well-meaning or tyrannical or self-destructive move he makes for the rest of his life appears in some way to be a reaction to that deeply wounding event.

Written by Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz, and photographed by Gregg Toland, the film is the sum of Welles’s awesome ambitions as an artist in Hollywood. He pushes the limits of then-available technology to create a true magic show, a visual and aural feast that almost seems to be rising up from a viewer’s subconsciousness. As Kane, Welles even ushers in the influence of Bertolt Brecht on film acting. This is truly a one-of-a-kind work, and in many ways is still the most modern of modern films from the 20th century. —Tom Keogh

Citizen Kane - a young Kane playing in the snow in the background, while the adults decide his featureCitizen Kane DVD features

No minuscule “featurette” for the greatest movie ever made. The backbone for this grand two-disc set is the 1995 Oscar®-nominated documentary The Battle over Citizen Kane, a very rich two-hour film on how this masterpiece was almost destroyed by Welles’s adversary, William Randolph Hearst. A great remastered print is complemented by two running commentaries, the better one by critic Roger Ebert. Don’t think you want a two-hour lecture by Mr. Ebert? Just listen to his 10-minute talk over the gallery of photographs from the movie (which you can flip through manually with your remote or see as a slide show), and you’ll want more. Ad campaigns, storyboards, and even call sheets are included in this must-have DVD. —Doug Thomas

Famous quotes from Citizen Kane, starring Orson Welles

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): Rosebud.

Female reporter: If you could’ve found out what Rosebud meant, I bet that would’ve explained everything.
Thompson: No, I don’t think so; no. Mr. Kane was a man who got everything he wanted and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn’t get, or something he lost. Anyway, it wouldn’t have explained anything… I don’t think any word can explain a man’s life. No, I guess Rosebud is just a… piece in a jigsaw puzzle… a missing piece.

Kane’s Father: A good whuppin’s all the kid really needs.
Mary Kane(Agnes Moorehead): That’s why I’m sending him where you can’t get at him.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): You know, Mr. Bernstein, if I hadn’t been very rich, I might have been a really great man.
Walter Parks Thatcher: Don’t you think you are?
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): I think I did pretty well under the circumstances.
Walter Parks Thatcher: What would you like to have been?
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): Everything you hate.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): Hello Jedediah.
Leland (Joseph Cotten): Hello, Charlie. I didn’t know we were speaking…
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): Sure, we’re speaking, Jedediah: you’re fired.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): I always gagged on the silver spoon.

[Quoting from Kane’s letter]
Walter Parks Thatcher: I think it would be fun to run a newspaper.

Bernstein (Everett Sloane): Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Switzerland… he was thrown out of a lot of colleges.

Emily: Really Charles, people will think-…
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): – -what I tell them to think.

Bernstein (Everett Sloane): President’s niece, huh? Before Mr. Kane’s through with her, she’ll be a president’s wife.

Bernstein (Everett Sloane): There’s a lot of statues in Europe you haven’t bought yet.
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): You can’t blame me. They’ve been making statues for some two thousand years, and I’ve only been collecting for five.

Bernstein (Everett Sloane): We never lost as much as we made.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): The news goes on for 24 hours a day.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): We have no secrets from our readers. Mr. Thatcher is one of our most devoted readers, Mr. Bernstein. He knows what’s wrong with every issue since I’ve taken charge.

Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten): You still eating?
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): I’m still hungry.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): You’re right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars *next* year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I’ll have to close this place in… 60 years.

Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten): Bernstein, am I a stuffed shirt? Am I a horse-faced hypocrite? Am I a New England school marm?
Bernstein (Everett Sloane): Yes. If you thought I’d answer you any differently than what Mr. Kane tells you…

Reporter: Mr. Kane, how did you find business conditions in Europe?
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): How did I find business conditions in Europe? With great difficulty.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): I run a couple of newspapers. What do you do?

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): This gentleman was saying…
Boss Jim Gettys: I am not a gentleman. I don’t even know what a gentleman is.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): Don’t believe everything you hear on the radio.

Bernstein: Old age. It’s the only disease, Mr. Thompson, that you don’t look forward to being cured of.

Thompson: He made an awful lot of money.
Bernstein: Well, it’s no trick to make a lot of money… if what you want to do is make a lot of money.

Bernstein: A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn’t think he’d remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn’t see me at all, but I’ll bet a month hasn’t gone by since that I haven’t thought of that girl.

Emily: He happens to be the president, Charles, not you.
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): That’s a mistake that will be corrected one of these days.

Walter Parks Thatcher: You’re too old to be calling me Mr. Thatcher, Charles.
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): You’re too old to be called anything else.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): As Charles Foster Kane who owns eighty-two thousand, six hundred and thirty-four shares of public transit – you see, I do have a general idea of my holdings – I sympathize with you. Charles Foster Kane is a scoundrel. His paper should be run out of town. A committee should be formed to boycott him. You may, if you can form such a committee, put me down for a contribution of one thousand dollars.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): Read the cable.
Bernstein: “Girls delightful in Cuba. Stop. Could send you prose poems about scenery, but don’t feel right spending your money. Stop. There is no war in Cuba, signed Wheeler.” Any answer?
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): Yes. “Dear Wheeler: you provide the prose poems. I’ll provide the war.”

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): Are we going to declare war on Spain, or are we not?
Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten): The Inquirer already has.
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): You long-faced, overdressed anarchist.
Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten): I am not overdressed.
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): You are too. Mr. Bernstein, look at his necktie.

Susan: Forty-nine thousand acres of nothing but scenery and statues. I’m lonesome.
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): I don’t think there’s one word that can describe a mans life.

Reporter 1: What’s that?
Reporter 2: Another Venus.
Reporter 1: Twenty-five thousand bucks. That’s a lot of money to pay for a dame without a head.

Rawlson: It isn’t enough to tell us what a man did. You’ve got to tell us who he was.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): Don’t worry about me, Gettys! Don’t worry about me! I’m Charles Foster Kane! I’m no cheap, crooked politician, trying to save himself from the consequences of his crimes!
[Screams louder]
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): Gettys! I’m going to send you to Sing Sing! Sing Sing, Gettys! Sing Sing!

Bernstein: [to Leland] Mr. Kane is finishing the review you started – he’s writing a bad notice. I guess that’ll show you.

[Susan is leaving Kane]
Kane: [pleading] Don’t go, Susan. You mustn’t go. You can’t do this to me.
Susan: I see. So it’s YOU who this is being done to. It’s not me at all. Not how I feel. Not what it means to me. [laughs] I can’t do this to you? [odd smile] Oh, yes I can.

[On Kane finishing Leland’s bad review of Susan’s opera singing]
Thompson: Everybody knows that story, Mr. Leland. But why did he do it? How could a man write a notice like that?
Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten): You just don’t know Charlie. He thought that by finishing that notice he could show me he was an honest man. He was always trying to prove something. The whole thing about Susie being an opera singer, that was trying to prove something. You know what the headline was the day before the election, “Candidate Kane found in love nest with quote, singer, unquote.” He was gonna take the quotes off the singer.

Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten): That’s all he ever wanted out of life… was love. That’s the tragedy of Charles Foster Kane. You see, he just didn’t have any to give.

Kane, age eight: [talking about snowman] Maybe I’ll make some teeth and whiskers…

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): A toast, Jedediah: to Love on my own terms.

Susan: Love! You don’t love anybody! Me or anybody else! You want to be loved – that’s all you want! I’m Charles Foster Kane. Whatever you want – just name it and it’s yours! Only love me! Don’t expect me to love you

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): You can’t buy a bag of peanuts in this town without someone writing a song about you.

Charles Foster Kane III: Mother, is Pop governor yet?
Emily: Not yet, Junior.

Stagecoach Driver / Hauler: There ain’t no bedrooms in this joint, that’s a newspaper building!
Bernstein: You’re getting paid, Mister, for opinions or for hauling?

[last lines]
Raymond: Throw that junk in.

Reporter: [at beginning of news reel on Charles Foster Kane’s death] In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree.

Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten): I suppose he had a private sort of greatness, but he kept it to himself.

Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): [His answer to being blackmailed] There’s only one person in the world who’s going to decide what I’m going to do and that’s me…

Susan: I don’t know many people.
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles): I know too many people. I guess we’re both lonely.


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