The American Film Institute's piece on Citizen Kane as the greatest movie of all time, with commentary from numerous actors and directors, including the recently deceased Sydney Pollack. Below: Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane.
Today, Citizen Kane seems almost synonymous with the phrase, "best film ever." When it was released in 1941, there weren't enough people who saw it for the movie to receive such universal acclaim.
In one way, it didn't pay to go toe to toe with a wealthy newspaperman.
Kane, which opens the Kentucky Theatre's Summer Classics series Wednesday (May 28), was widely recognized in its day as a scathingly unflattering portrait of publisher William Randolph Hearst. In an effort to suppress the film, Hearst banned mention of it, including advertising, from his papers and enlisted the support of allies, including many in the film industry, to squelch the movie and tarnish the reputation of its 24-year-old writer, director and star, Orson Welles.
And by all accounts, it worked, for a time.
Though many critics and non-Hearst publications recognized the movie as a ground-breaking piece of filmmaking, its distribution was limited and after it won only one Academy Award -- screenwriting for Welles and Herman J. Makiewicz -- the movie disappeared for nearly a quarter century. Welles' masterpiece was relegated to obscurity.
Then, it started circulating again. Re-emerged, it began to be recognized for the masterpiece it is, showing us styles and methods of story telling and filmmaking not often seen before, such as extreme closeups and depth of field, with everything from the foreground to the background in focus. With other touches such as an artistic use of shadows, it is truly a treat to see it on the big screen.
And while Hearst's efforts at suppression made the film an initial flop, it has now become a rich part of the movie's legend, including the fact that it makes it seem even more undeniable that Welles' Charles Foster Kane is a Hearst caricature. Now, biographies of Hearst often include at least a passing mention of Kane.
It doesn't seem like going toe to toe with a filmmaking genius worked out so well for him.
The movie shows at 1:30 and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Kentucky. Admission is $3.