104 New To Me Movies: Citizen Kane (1941)


Title: Citizen Kane
Release Year: 1941
Director: Orson Welles
Writer: Herman J. Mankiewiecz & Orson Welles
Reccomended By: AFI 100 Years, 100 Movies 10th Anniversary Edition


Citizen Kane is widely regarded to be the greatest film ever made. It tops just about every list, touting it’s revolutionary use of the camera, it’s clever and piercing satirical screenplay and it’s, for it’s time unconventional structure.

And I, a person who loves movies, who especially spend a lot of time…uh…what’s a nice term for yelling at people? Loudly and emphatically attempting to persuade those around them, that works, to check out old movies, had never seen it! (FYI, my mental “old movies” barometer is pre 1970. 1970 to around 2000 is just “movies,” and anything after that is “newer movies.”) So I was curious. Would I also think this was the greatest movie ever made? Would I see the revolutionary wheels it set in motion? Be shaken to my core by it’s satire of William Randolph Hearst in particular and The Hollowness Of The American Dream in general?


Look, it’s a great film. There’s just no questioning that, it’s actually very funny, in a sharp wry, theater-y way. It’s written and structured a lot like a play, probably because it was written and directed by Orson Welles, who was, primarily, a playwright. The too crazy to be true, but mostly actually is, life of Charles Foster Kane, told by the various people who loved him until he sucked them dry, the way he did everyone, and everything, and even, some would argue, the soul of the nation he claimed to love.

And as I understand it, it did this first, and that is very impressive, and it’s seamless and doesn’t seem too clunky, Welles knows exactly what he’s doing with this movie. His performance as Kane is transcendent as well, truly leading us through how he corrupted himself and those around him, with chemistry, charm and unfathomable charm.

But while I was watching, all I could think was, “In 9 years, All About Eve is going to do this so perfectly.” (To be fair to Citizen Kane, All About Eve is ACTUALLY my choice for the greatest film ever made…soooo…) But I’m glad this was my first choice for this project. I was thrilled by the movie, pleasantly surprised by it’s comedy, and I can absolutely see why people are so hot on it as “the greatest ever!” I just disagree. I think it created a wonderful template for films of it’s kind, masterfully acted and the camera work is exciting.

I hope as I get back in shape my criticism can get more sharper and less reactive, so I apologize if this was just me saying, “Movie good, but not perfect!” but let’s walk before we run here folks.

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