‘Citizen Kane,’ Orson Welles’ Greatest Achievement, 70 Years On

The 70th anniversary of Orson Welles’ classic film “Citizen Kane” occurred recently. The film, the first feature-length motion pictured directed by Welles, is considered one of if not the greatest film in history.

“Citizen Kane” depicts the rise and fall of a publishing tycoon named Charles Foster Kane, who had a striking resemblance to William Randolph Hearst, from the late 1890s to about 1940. It starts with the famous dying scene in which Welles, as Kane, utters the word “Rosebud.” After fake newsreel footage telling the official story of the life and death of Kane, the film depicts attempts by news reporters to find out the truth of Kane’s life, including the meaning of his final word.

“Citizen Kane,” which used for what was the time a lot of innovative filming techniques, including unusual camera angles, was a flop when it was first released in 1941. It also earned Welles the lifelong enmity of Hearst, who attempted to suppress the release of the film and destroy Welles, then a man in his 20s.

Welles, who was already notorious because of his “War of the Worlds” radio play, was never able to make a better film than “Citizen Kane,” though some of his subsequent movies, such as “Touch of Evil,” came remarkably close. Welles had better success as an actor and narrator thanks to his imposing screen presence and his deep, sonorous voice. Besides the corrupt police captain in “Touch of Evil,” Welles played a black market mogul in “The Third Man,” Cardinal Woosley in “A Man for All Seasons” and Ceasari Borgia in “Prince of Foxes.”

Welles was the narrator of such works as “Shogun,” a TV miniseries about an Elizabethan English sailor in 1600 Japan, and “History of the World Part 1,” one of Mel Brooks’ less successful films. He was also the uncredited voice of Robin Masters, the benefactor of one Thomas Magnum, the TV private eye played by Tom Selleck.

But “Citizen Kane” remains Welles’ greatest achievement. It was his tragedy that it occurred at the beginning of his life and not closer to the end.

Source: Orson Welles, Yahoo Movies

Citizen Kane, Yahoo Movies

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