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on June 8, 2017
This review is for the two disc set of Orson Welles 1941 masterpiece Citizen Kane, which has endlessly (and rightfully) been called the greatest film ever made. Of course, I'm not going to go over the whole plot, which to film lovers is already gospel. This review is to concentrate on the technical and scholastic aspects of Kane, namely this two dvd set. And there are three very good reasons to get this particular copy of Kane.

1. The film itself, which has rarely looked better. It's a very crisp print, in which details obscured in earlier versions are now wonderfully clear. The soundtrack by Bernard Herrmann has never sounded better. Maybe the most overlooked great film soundtrack ever. All the technical wizardry at play in this film, from the lighting to the camera angles to the special effects (which, when pointed out, are absolutely astounding) seem to be just so much more breathtaking in this version. It's certainly as good as the movie can possibly look.

2. The audio commentary by the late, great Roger Ebert. (I'm guessing it was recorded in the late 90's/early 00's, before he lost the ability to speak.) Mr. Ebert stated on more than a few occasions that this was his favorite movie of all time. The commentary shows that at absolutely every turn. He's the perfect person to take you on a guided tour of the dark alleys, brightly-lit paths, strange regions and brilliant hidden corners that make this film so magnificent. I could never get tired of hearing him talk about how the deep focus camera work in Kane is so carefully and subtly handled. Or how the special effects are just as revolutionary as, say, Star Wars, without being noticed much, if at all. Or fascinating tidbits, such as how the actor who portrays the reporter, Thompson, is also the stentorian voice of the announcer in the opening News on the March segment. Most important of all, Mr. Ebert shows you how to appreciate this film, for all it's worth, like no one else can. Whether you end up loving the film and making it your cinematic lifeblood, or decide that it's too inflated, dark, slow paced, and maybe even overrated, is up to you. But you will understand why this film is considered perhaps the greatest film of all time.

3. The bonus documentary on the 2nd dvd, The Battle Over Citizen Kane, which was originally aired on PBS back in 1996 as part of the series American Experience. This nearly two hour doc is about how Welles clashed with newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, the purported inspiration for Charles Foster Kane. How the film took Hearst's life, loves, and powerful ego and transformed them into the ultimate parable of business: you were happiest when you had nothing except what you loved most. How Hearst tried to suppress, and even destroy the film. How the career of Welles took off like Comet, and then burned out into wine commercials. How the film vanished from the public view for many years, only to reappear with the position in history it still holds today. This is one of the best documentaries ever made on movies, business, power, politics, Hollywood and celebrity. I'd say it's worth the price of admission, but when you get the greatest film ever to boot, well you can't go wrong.

Also there are some other features of note, such as a second commentary by director Peter Bogdonovich. This one is interesting, but not as good as Mr. Ebert's. Since PB knew Welles and hung out with him a lot in later years, it's more of a bit chummy and anecdotal in nature. Plus there are also other extras such as the original trailer for the film, (don't pass it up, it's priceless) a photo gallery and a tiny bit of film of the world premiere. In all, it's the Kane 101 you will need in your film theory class (If you're into that sort of thing.) But with a movie as classic, timeless, groundbreaking, endlessly watchable and almost symphonic as this, you may never have to go to film school. -----------------PEACE
BTW- Just for the record, my favorite bit of dialogue in Kane is:
"You know Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place in..............sixty years!"
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on February 15, 2015
CITIZEN KANE is one of those films that often makes critics' top ten lists of the greatest films ever made, and has built quite a reputation as such over the 70+ years since it was released. It's also one of those films that people might be familiar with, but may not have seen. And until now, I hadn't actually seen it myself. So, does it live up to its reputation? Yes, it mostly does. The story, if somebody out there doesn't know, is about Charles Foster Kane, who is taken from his parents at a young age to live with a powerful businessman and, once he comes of age, takes over control of a newspaper. Over the course of his life, which is recounted almost entirely in flashback, you see a transition from an idealistic, principled young man to a reclusive shell of his former self. I thought it was a very well-written, well-shot film that gives a very balanced portrayal of a polarizing figure. All of the performances were excellent, especially Orson Welles, who was the brainchild behind this film. I also took notice of the incredible camerawork and cinematography which made effective use of light, shadow and space as well as some really sharp camera angles which provide visual insight into power dynamics that are an integral part of the story. However the most important aspect seems to have been a man who desperately wants love and approval, but doesn't know how to get it except by trying to buy it. It is this single part of Kane that makes him a compelling character, despite being such an enigma otherwise. There was also the film's central nagging question of what his final word, "rosebud," meant. I thought that the answer, which is revealed in the film's final moments, was a bit underwhelming but extremely effective as a narrative-driving device. Overall, this is a classic film that deserves to be seen by all, if for no other reason than that it is an important part of film history.
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If the stories are to be believed, Orson Welles created CITIZEN KANE as an act of vengeance for a sleight he received from W.R. Hearst during a dinner party at the tycoon's enormous California estate. Welles supposedly included "Rosebud" in his semi-bio of Hearst to embarrass the man. This mysterious word was the publisher's nickname for an intimate body part belonging to his mistress, Marion Davies. (BTW... watch closely in the film's early snow scene for a revealing "Rosebud" hint, when young Kane hits a visitor with his beloved sled and we see the famous flower insignia on it.)

Is this picture, as so many claim, THE GREATEST ever made? Since all art is subjective, can there ever be a single BEST motion picture, painting, statue or song? Whether or not "Kane" is numero uno, two things are certain:
1.) CITIZEN KANE is *classic* film making in every sense imaginable.
2.) Its high regard and place in cinematic history are assured, perhaps for all time.

"Citizen Kane" is available on DVD.

Also recommended:

The excellent HBO biopic about the creation of "Citizen Kane," RKO 281 (1999) features Liev Schreiber's remarkable portrayal of the enigmatic boy-director. Co-stars John Malkovich as Welles' collaborator Herman Mankiewicz, also Melanie Griffith as actress Marion Davies and James Cromwell as newspaper czar William Randolph Hearst.

Orson labored for many years to finish his superb adaptation of Shakespeare's OTHELLO (1952). After winning the prestigious Palme D'Or at Cannes, this film played in a limited number of American theaters, flopped badly, then disappeared. The long-presumed "lost" negative of "Othello" was finally located in New Jersey, in 1992.

Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll rating.

(8.6) Citizen Kane (1941) - Orson Welles/Joseph Cotten/Ruth Warrick/Agnes Moorehead/Dorothy Comingore/Ray Collins/Philip Van Zandt (uncredited: Nat 'King' Cole/Alan Ladd/Herman Mankiewicz/Benny Rubin/Gregg Toland)
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on February 11, 2017
This is a great film, if ever there was one. First, there's the ground-breaking atmospheric cinematography. Second, there's the seemingly insoluble mystery of who or what is Rosebud. Third, and most important, there's the development of a tragic character. Kane begins as a normal child, until he is sent away from his beloved mother and loses his favorite toy at the same time. Next we see him as a brash, fun-loving young man. Next he becomes a tycoon who tries repeatedly to buy love (which he lost with his mother) and very expensive "toys" (paralleling the loss of his favorite toy as a child). He becomes an egocentric tyrant who alienates every friend. Finally, he dies a lonely recluse surrounded by the trappings of wealth that could do nothing to help him. Kane is a huge success with money, but a failure as a human being. The theme is straight from Ecclesiastes: "All is vanity." And, yes, the viewer does discover the solution to the mystery, unexpectedly, at the film's very end. This is a profoundly depressing film that draws forth a visceral reaction.
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If the stories are to be believed, Orson Welles created CITIZEN KANE as an act of vengeance for a sleight he received from W.R. Hearst during a dinner party at the tycoon's enormous California estate. Welles supposedly included "Rosebud" in his semi-bio of Hearst to embarrass the man. This mysterious word was the publisher's nickname for an intimate body part belonging to his mistress, Marion Davies. (BTW... watch closely in the film's early snow scene for a revealing "Rosebud" hint, when young Kane hits a visitor with his beloved sled and we see the famous flower insignia on it.)

Is this picture, as so many claim, THE GREATEST ever made? Since all art is subjective, can there ever be a single BEST motion picture, painting, statue or song? Whether or not "Kane" is numero uno, two things are certain:
1.) CITIZEN KANE is *classic* film making in every sense imaginable.
2.) Its high regard and place in cinematic history are assured, perhaps for all time.

"Citizen Kane" is available on DVD.

Also recommended:

The excellent HBO biopic about the creation of "Citizen Kane," RKO 281 (1999) features Liev Schreiber's remarkable portrayal of the enigmatic boy-director. Co-stars John Malkovich as Welles' collaborator Herman Mankiewicz, also Melanie Griffith as actress Marion Davies and James Cromwell as newspaper czar William Randolph Hearst.

Orson labored for many years to finish his superb adaptation of Shakespeare's OTHELLO (1952). After winning the prestigious Palme D'Or at Cannes, this film played in a limited number of American theaters, flopped badly, then disappeared. The long-presumed "lost" negative of "Othello" was finally located in New Jersey, in 1992.

Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 imdb viewer poll rating.

(8.6) Citizen Kane (1941) - Orson Welles/Joseph Cotten/Ruth Warrick/Agnes Moorehead/Dorothy Comingore/Ray Collins/Philip Van Zandt (uncredited: Nat 'King' Cole/Alan Ladd/Herman Mankiewicz/Benny Rubin/Gregg Toland)
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on November 9, 2017
The one true king of cinema is without a doubt this classic. A masterpiece on every level. The film world learned so much from this rare treasure. I’ve always wanted it on blu so I ordered it and the price was right and shipping was much faster then I was quoted. A overall great experience.
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on December 28, 2017
Pure genius. The hype is real. Believe it. Sadly unseated from the No. 1 spot it held for decades on the Sight and Sound poll, it is certainly one of the very greatest films of all time, and in this single work, George Orson Welles proclaimed and proved himself perhaps the single greatest filmmaker of all time, starring in, directing, co-writing, and producing the same film, and doing all so well, with such fresh talents, including not least of all his own. Has to be seen to be believed. If you're going to watch any movie, watch this one.
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on January 1, 2010
I got the two disc DVD set of Citizen Kane. The film was quite controversial of the time and RKO Pictures originally was not going to play it because of the pressure put to bear by William Randolph Hearst, famous newspaper magnate and philanthropist. Even to this day, the Hearst Corporation has its fingers in every pie: radio, television, cable, satellite broadcasting, etc. Hearst did not like that Orson was making what amounted to an unauthorized criticism on Hearst himself.

Similarities? Oh yes! Although the names were changed, the film follows Hearst's life to a Tee, with a lot of creative license being taken.

Orson Welles, only 24 years old, who, flushed from his success on the Mercury Theater and his famous (or infamous) broadcast, War of the Worlds, he created what many consider the best film of all time and many consider the beginning of the end of Orson's career as a radio, stage and film master of entertainment.

[For those who do not know, on Halloween night back in the 1930s, with America concerned about Hitler's advances in Europe, Welles adapted H.G. Wells War of the Worlds with realistic-sounding newscasts and had the Martians invading Grover's Mill, New Jersey. Many people actually believed these broadcasts to be REAL and panicked! Radio was like TV is today, with soaps, westerns, news, and so on as main entertainment and so having your shows interrupted by newscasts and bulletins was common. This created major controversy and put Orson on the map!]

But back to the review:

Charles Foster Kane, as a child, is being taken away as the family can no longer have him. His mother is played stoically by Agnes Moorhead, a strong character actress in her own right (well before "Bewitched!" the cheesy sitcom of the Sixties.).

Kane gets a newspaper, expands his empire, builds a castle (in Florida rather than San Simeon (current location of Hearst Castle), collects art as well as pretty girls, runs for office, confronts scandal and finally dies, dropping a snow globe and whispers "Rosebud."

Why Rosebud? Well, the newspaper guys who are creating the news reel (News On The March!) want to know more about Kane and what Rosebud is. The film then goes through a lot of flashbacks and personal interviews with fictional (and thinly disguised) friends of Kane to find out more about the man, his mission and what was Rosebud.

Was Kane a self-seeking vampire who sucked the spirit out of everyone he came in contact with? Or did his childhood memories still haunt him decades after the fact?

Melodramatic to the extreme, some scenes were slow-paced. The black & white photography was simply gorgeous. And getting a peak at life as it might have been like in the early 20th Century was enjoyable and fascinating.

Disc Two: Wow, this was great. Actual filmed interviews with Orson Welles done in the 1980s before his death. You can see his eyes light up as he recalled the creative energy he possessed as a very young man, creating plays in Harlem with an all Black cast in creating Shakespeare for the masses.

Touched on are the Mercury Theater broadcasts for CBS and the War of the Worlds broadcast. The narrator said it best: Orson accomplished it all at a young age and then was burned and never came back after Citizen Kane.

Extensive biographical data on Welles and Hearst, both driven men, both creative geniuses in their own ways, proud and gifted and heading on a collision course with each other.

"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet."
-Orson Welles

"Even if the good old days never existed, the fact that we can conceive such a world is, in fact, an affirmation of the human spirit."
Orson Welles

"I started at the top and worked down."
Orson Welles

More on Orson Welles:

Orson Welles: Volume 1: The Road to Xanadu
Orson Welles: Volume 2: Hello Americans

More on War of the Worlds Broadcast:

War of the Worlds: Featuring Orson Welles
The Orson Welles' War of the Worlds Scandal

More on Willam Randolph Hearst:

Citizen Hearst: A Biography of William Randolph Hearst
The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst
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If the stories are to be believed, Orson Welles created CITIZEN KANE as an act of vengeance for a sleight he received from W.R. Hearst during a dinner party at the tycoon's enormous California estate. Welles supposedly included "Rosebud" in his semi-bio of Hearst to embarrass the man. This mysterious word was the publisher's nickname for an intimate body part belonging to his mistress, Marion Davies. (BTW... watch closely in the film's early snow scene for a revealing "Rosebud" hint, when young Kane hits a visitor with his beloved sled and we see the famous flower insignia on it.)

Is this picture, as so many claim, THE GREATEST ever made? Since all art is subjective, can there ever be a single BEST motion picture, painting, statue or song? Whether or not "Kane" is numero uno, two things are certain:
1.) CITIZEN KANE is *classic* film making in every sense imaginable.
2.) Its high regard and place in cinematic history are assured, perhaps for all time.

"Citizen Kane" is available on DVD.

Also recommended:

The excellent HBO biopic about the creation of "Citizen Kane," RKO 281 (1999) features Liev Schreiber's remarkable portrayal of the enigmatic boy-director. Co-stars John Malkovich as Welles' collaborator Herman Mankiewicz, also Melanie Griffith as actress Marion Davies and James Cromwell as newspaper czar William Randolph Hearst. (VHS) (DVD)

Orson labored for many years to finish his superb adaptation of Shakespeare's OTHELLO (1952). After winning the prestigious Palme D'Or at Cannes, this film played in a limited number of American theaters, flopped badly, then disappeared. The long-presumed "lost" negative of "Othello" was finally located in New Jersey, in 1992. (VHS)(DVD)

Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.

(8.4) Citizen Kane (1941) - Orson Welles/Joseph Cotten/Ruth Warrick/Agnes Moorehead/Dorothy Comingore/Ray Collins/Philip Van Zandt (uncredited: Nat 'King' Cole/Alan Ladd/Herman Mankiewicz/Benny Rubin/Gregg Toland)
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If the stories are to be believed, Orson Welles created CITIZEN KANE as an act of vengeance for a sleight he received from W.R. Hearst during a dinner party at the tycoon's enormous California estate. Welles supposedly included "Rosebud" in his semi-bio of Hearst to embarrass the man. This mysterious word was the publisher's nickname for an intimate body part belonging to his mistress, Marion Davies. (BTW... watch closely in the film's early snow scene for a revealing "Rosebud" hint, when young Kane hits a visitor with his beloved sled and we see the famous flower insignia on it.)

Is this picture, as so many claim, THE GREATEST ever made? Since all art is subjective, can there ever be a single BEST motion picture, painting, statue or song? Whether or not "Kane" is numero uno, two things are certain:
1.) CITIZEN KANE is *classic* film making in every sense imaginable.
2.) Its high regard and place in cinematic history are assured, perhaps for all time.

"Citizen Kane" is available on DVD.

Also recommended:

The excellent HBO biopic about the creation of "Citizen Kane," RKO 281 (1999) features Liev Schreiber's remarkable portrayal of the enigmatic boy-director. Co-stars John Malkovich as Welles' collaborator Herman Mankiewicz, also Melanie Griffith as actress Marion Davies and James Cromwell as newspaper czar William Randolph Hearst. (VHS) (DVD)

Orson labored for many years to finish his superb adaptation of Shakespeare's OTHELLO (1952). After winning the prestigious Palme D'Or at Cannes, this film played in a limited number of American theaters, flopped badly, then disappeared. The long-presumed "lost" negative of "Othello" was finally located in New Jersey, in 1992. (VHS)(DVD)

Parenthetical number preceding title is a 1 to 10 IMDb viewer poll rating.

(8.4) Citizen Kane (1941) - Orson Welles/Joseph Cotten/Ruth Warrick/Agnes Moorehead/Dorothy Comingore/Ray Collins/Philip Van Zandt (uncredited: Nat 'King' Cole/Alan Ladd/Herman Mankiewicz/Benny Rubin/Gregg Toland)
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