When a reporter is assigned to decipher newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane’s (Orson Welles) dying words, his investigation gradually reveals the fascinating portrait of a complex man who rose from obscurity to staggering heights. Though Kane’s friend and colleague Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten), and his mistress, Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore), shed fragments of light on Kane’s life, the reporter fears he may never penetrate the mystery of the elusive man’s final word, “Rosebud.”
There’s a reason why Citizen Kane is one of the most beloved movies of all-time. Even if you aren’t the biggest fan of movies that are from the 1940s or black-and-white movies in general, I still think that Citizen Kane is required viewing if you are even remotely interested in film. It’s one of those movies that says so much and is best experienced if you don’t know every little thing about it, so in case some of my readers haven’t seen the film yet, I won’t be discussing spoilers in this review.
Even as a kid I had heard about Citizen Kane, and that was back when I was just a casual movie fan, usually just watching either action or superhero movies and thinking that every new film I saw in theatres was the best movie of all-time (excluding Skyline, which I hated that even when I was eleven).
Many die-hard film fans will say that Citizen Kane is the greatest movie ever made, and while I don’t personally agree with that statement, what I will say is that it is one of the greatest movies ever made. It was a technical marvel and industry-changing revelation upon release and nearly eighty years later, it is still being talked about and is still held in such high regard. You know you did something right as a filmmaker when your film is still being talked about decades after its release.
Orson Welles truly did a magnificent job directing this film and also did a terrific job writing the script alongside Herman J. Mankiewicz. The film is two hours long yet it never feels that long because of how sharp every scene is written and directed. There is no scene in Citizen Kane that feels wasted or unimportant. Each scene feels like it’s crucial to the overall storyline of the film, and once you see where things are heading, it just sets off a big lightbulb in your head. Rarely is dialogue written as smoothly and powerful as the dialogue in Citizen Kane was written.
Speaking of Welles, he does a wonderful job in the role of Charles Foster Kane, who is quite possibly one of the most recognizable film characters of all-time. And really, Welles’ performance could be classified as one of the best film performances in history.
Citizen Kane also touches upon some of the most timely themes in such a bold and riveting way. It’s fascinating how a film that’s almost eighty years old somehow feels more relevant than most new release films. Welles and Mankiewicz were truly ahead of their time when they made Citizen Kane. It’s one of the most influential pieces of entertainment ever made, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it was still being talked about another eighty years from now.
Citizen Kane is quite simply one of the greatest movies ever made. Sharp and bold direction from Orson Welles accompanied by its powerful script further enliven this classic.
Overall Grade: A+
MPAA Rating: PG
Directed by: Orson Welles
Distributed by: RKO Radio Pictures
Release Date: September 5, 1941
Running Time: 119 minutes