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Citizen Kane


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OK,no offense to those who love it,but I can't stand this movie! It always seems self-conscious and pretentious to me,first of all. Second of all,even though Orson Welles later denied it, many people believed that the "Susan Kane" character was based on Marion Davies(he later claimed that it based on the girlfriend of another person,whom this man tried to make into an opera singer-I forget her name). It did Marion Davies a great disservice. She was a wonderful comedienne,and she wasn't terrible in the costume dramas that Hearst pushed her into(from what I've read,I've only seen the comedies). And according to those who knew her,Davies was nothing like the whining shrew in "Citizen Kane",and she and Hearst had a much more loving relationship than that portrayed between the characters in the movie. He was very solicitous of her. It's taken a while,and has really only just begun,for Marion Davies' personal and professional reputations to be rehabilitated,thanks to this pretentious movie.

 

 

 

 

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Most of the shouting about Kane has more to do with the cinematic and technical firsts that it brought to movies. Like visible ceilings (which allowed for the placement of lights and microphones) and deep focus photgraphy.

 

I like the flashback device used to move the story along, with the reporter interviewing the people who knew Kane to find the meaning of Rosebud. Ebert makes a good point in his DVD commentary: the way the narrative is structured, you never quite know where you are in the movie when you come into it late.

 

Kane was an acquired taste for me. I first saw it in a college classroom on an old projector with poor sound. For years after, I too said I didn't understand all the fuss. Then I saw it again on UHF 12 years later and I appreciated it for the first time.

 

It's been so well praised over the last few decades, perhaps it will now suffer some backlash. But I'm confident this one will be watched and cared for long after we are all gone.

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You're right about the techinique,although I'm not quite film-literate enough to be aware of many of those things in order to appreciate them. It's the story,and the self-conscious feeling I get of "Look at us,we're doing it differently!" that I can't get past. I'm not a philistine,really,but I appreciate "artistry" or novelty more when it's done subtly and seamlessly. (I give the early silents a pass on this though,the whole early era is kind of like that,but the self-consciousness befits an adolescent era.Some of the early silents like that remind me of Carol Kennicott in "Main Street"-I wish I could explain what I mean more fully).

 

Message was edited by: Me,for a spelling typo,darnit.

daddysprimadonna

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I know what you mean. Of course you're no philistine. You wouldn't be here if you were.

 

Remember, too, that Welles was 24 years old when he made Kane. Maybe what your sensing as pretense is nothing more than Welles's youth and, well, ignorance of the rules, that allowed him to cross lines he wasn't aware existed, not knowing enough to know that he should have been more cautious.

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I love the things that I learn here! Knowing that Welles was only 24 does make a difference. That's just the age when people are still feeling their oats and bursting to show the world how things should be done,so to speak. I'm more inclined to give him a pass on the self-consciousness of "Citizen Kane" knowing that,it makes it kind of endearing :)

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I'm very pleased to read that, Daddysprimadonna.

 

I highly recommend you seek out the DVD. My guess is your nearest public library has a copy.

 

Listen to the commentaries by Ebert and by Bogdonavich. (Ebert doesn't shut up, but he makes one excellent point after another) while Bogdonovich more quietly recalls things Welles had said to him about various scenes in the movie.

 

There's also an excellent doc on the DVD set about the lengths Hearst went to to crush this film. I'm sure you will appreciate it more.

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Thanks,I will do that. I have a feeling that I may never appreciate the story too much,because I love Marion Davies(whether the correlation to her was intentional or not,it did hurt her),but it would behoove me to understand why this movie is consistently at the top of so many "all-time best" film lists. Not to mention that it could never hurt to understand more about the film technique that I see in movies,in order to appreciate them more,even some that I won't ever like for any other reason.

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I'd like to echo LuckyDan's suggestion to listen to Roger Ebert's fascinating audio commentary to Citizen Kane. In another thread yesterday, I had just written that I think it's among the best audio commentaries on DVD. Speaking of other threads: there was a thread about the best music in non-musicals and I wrote a snippet about Bernard Herrmann. Here's the text of the Citizen Kane section, which should clear up the Susan Alexander Kane question for you:

 

"Citizen Kane- an immense and impressive score that included the compostion of 'excerpts' from the opera 'Salammbo', which was an homage to operas such as Massenet's 'Thais'. Though common wisdom dictates that Marion Davies was the basis of Susan Alexander, William Randolph Hearst actually had an earlier girlfriend, Sibyl Sanderson, the opera singer for whom 'Thais' was written."

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That was very enlightening, Jack. But, I wonder how many people were aware of that fact when Citizen Kane was released. Even now, especially the first time I saw it, the general connection made is to Marion. And, even though Orson may have known about the opera person's affair with Hearst and snuck that into the film, I still say the overall consciousness of the film was William and Mairon. Nobody else lived at Xanadu! It housed just the two of them. Orson knew what he was doing, and that is why he created a loop hole.

 

As to the technology, i.e. camera angles, sound, experimentation, et al, it was all fantastic, but very much Orson. He only made two such films to my knowledge, both masterpieces in my mind. After that, no such films were ever made. Many of the experimental aspects were borrowed and put in other films, but never again did I see a film that looked or sounded quite like Citizen Kane or The Magnificent Ambersons! Oh, I take that back! There was Lady From Shanhai!

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I think Orson Welles was friends with Marion Davies. He would say that his only regret about the film was that many people would assume Susan was Marion and that that wasn't his intent. For that matter, it isn't like the film is about Hearst either. Citizen Kane is like a dark American fairy tale or myth that takes ambition and power as its themes and spins it into these variations on the thrill of success and the bonds that are made and broken between people, and cruelty and humiliation. I don't think that's pretentious but compared to most classic Hollywood movies its a pretty cold and dark place, and that might be why some people are disappointed by it.

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Most of the shouting about Kane has more to do with the cinematic and technical firsts that it brought to movies. Like visible ceilings (which allowed for the placement of lights and microphones) and deep focus photgraphy.

 

None of these things were devised for CITIZEN KANE, or are unique to the film; Welles simply utilized them to a greater extent than did most films of the period and was, in collaboration with cinematograher Gregg Toland and art director Van Nest Polglase, able to employ them as a unified whole that set the film apart, visually, from its contemporaries.

 

 

I like the flashback device used to move the story along, with the reporter interviewing the people who knew Kane to find the meaning of Rosebud. Ebert makes a good point in his DVD commentary: the way the narrative is structured, you never quite know where you are in the movie when you come into it late.

 

Ebert keeps referring to Joseph Cotten's character as "Jebediah" Leland, instead of "Jedediah"; a little thing, perhaps, but it seems all too consistent with a man who inexplicably likes to brag that he wrote the screenplay to BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS.

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I like "Kane" it's a movie i can watch over and over again. It's great with film technique, but also it has a great story and the story is told in a great way.I also agree about the DVD-it's wonderful. but i am not a great Orson Welles fan-in his later movies he starts acting so god-like.

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I don't know how Citizen Kane can always be rated as "the #1 film of all time". I have never been able to stay awake over 15 minutes without falling asleep on this film. I would say "On The Waterfront" is the best movie ever made and the acting performance by Marlon Brando was the best I've ever seen. I can watch "On The Waterfront" many times without ever getting tired of it.

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  • 2 years later...

Ha!

 

After seeing this film more than a dozen times since 1965, I finally spotted the snow-globe (with the little house inside it) sitting on Susan Alexander?s dresser that first night Mr. Kane met her. Yes, it?s the same globe he later dropped when he died.

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  • 2 years later...

Just a reminder... watch for the snow globe on Susan Alexander's dresser the first night she meet's Mr. Kane.

 

This is the globe he dropped when he died, at the beginning of the movie.

 

The scene inside this globe reminded him of his boyhood home, the snow, and his sled.

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SPOILER ALERT (DON'T READ IF HAVEN'T SEEN "CITIZEN KANE")

 

I'm sure this has been opined to death over the years in the deep, deep bowels of these messageboards. But since it's on tonight, anybody willing to say what they think the ending means when it's revealed that Rosebud is his childhood sled? Personally, I think it clarifies the theme (in my opinion) of the movie, which is: What good is it to gain the world & lose your soul? Kane had everything money could possibly buy but in the end he just wanted the love & security that he had BEFORE he was rich.

 

What say you?

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There was the globe on the dresser, on the left side of the screen, just in front of the small photo of the girl.

 

He told Susan that night that he was on the way to a warehouse where his belongings from his childhood were in storage. He said he wanted to get them out of storage and "find his childhood" or return to it or something like that.

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The snow globe brings him the sudden calm when he's overwhelmed smashing apart Susan's room. Just wanting to reinforce the point. It is a moment where Kane is shown what is it all about.

 

We notice the snow globe in her jig-saw puzzle apartment of detail. Kane scenes with the first Mrs. Kane (Emily) are sort of sparse, suggesting not much going on between them, once they finally got to know each other..

 

Susan was "a cross section of the American Public". Susan was a dalliance, but she was kind and flattering to the newspaperman. Kane married her because he had to, not because he wanted to. Kane kept giving her talents she didn't possess.

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I just love all the thoughtful posts on this thread. I wish I had your eloquence. LOVE BPerkins post especially.

 

CITIZEN CANE is the #1 movie in my house, I've loved it since the first viewing.

And I love it because of the performances.

 

I can identify with every charactor in CZ, many of which make the most of short screen time. I like the person who Susan Alexander is. Dorothy Comingore isn't a "whining shrew" but an uneducated, disappointed woman who feels trapped. The portrayal of Mr Bernstein was so loveable. The simple "Lady with the white parasol" story is moving because of his wonderful heartfelt delivery.

Agnes Moorehead as Kane's Mom? Sure, the technique & camerawork is beautiful in that scene, but Aggie lets us know every second, every thought going through her mind both with & without words.

 

I like seeing them age. I like the complexity of their charactors. Stories that are about life's disappointments are depressing, but I feel for the charactors and are inspired by them.

 

As for the snowglobe, it shows that the set dressing in this film was almost it's own charactor. The details of Susan's "jigsaw puzzle of a room" (great quote!) is best appreciated when viewed on the big screen.

 

And I find it funny that ON THE WATERFRONT leaves me cold, movielover11. It's one of MrTiki's faves but I don't like the performances, the charactors nor the story. I dislike violence too.

 

But how cool that film is so opinion based. It points out our similarities & differences. Although _I_ love it, I totally understand when people say "I didn't get what was so great about Citizen Kane."

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> {quote:title=MovieMadness wrote:}{quote}I think the Rosebud issue was set up as cover, It is sort of like an abstract painting, it is there to allow people to see what they want.

That said, my one (and only) issue with Kane is that it is stated repeatedly that Charles Foster Kane was alone when he died, so how did anyone hear him say "Rosebud"?

 

(Poetic liscense, I 'spose)

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I guess you'll also have to listen carefully as to whether he says

Rosebud before or after the nurse comes in. I've read that while

Hearst was mad at Welles, he was ever more angry at Mankiewicz,

because Mankiewicz had been a guest at San Simeon and was

at least an acquaintance. He knew much of the gossip and where the

"bodies" were buried. Wonder if Ben will take note of that?

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>That said, my one (and only) issue with Kane is that it is stated repeatedly that Charles Foster Kane was alone when he died, so how did anyone hear him say "Rosebud"?

 

After his death, his butler told a reporter that Kane said it twice, once in front of the whole staff. The butler referred to it as "that other time".

 

Anyway, I heard him say it, didn't you?

 

Maybe he should have said "Radio Flyer".

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