Thursday, October 6, 2011
by Tony Dayoub
Orson Welles’ roman à clef, Citizen Kane, was once derided by defenders of its alleged subject, publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst. Largely because of their efforts to prevent its release, Kane failed to gain any box-office traction when it first premiered. But over the years, as any film school student can tell you, it only grows more and more important in the cinematic lexicon. Maybe it is because it was Welles’ first film, yet it demonstrates an astonishing grasp of film technique, melding some of Welles’ stage skills with Gregg Toland’s cinematography to shape an epic story on a relatively meager budget. Perhaps it is because it was cast with the same Mercury Theatre company he had used in radio productions, actors like Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, and Everett Sloane, all of whom had never acted onscreen before. Or it could be that the film tells the quintessential American story about the rise and fall of a maverick entrepreneur whose success and failure is tied to his ability (or lack thereof) to connect with his friends and family on a human level, a popular archetypal saga told time and again in films like All the King’s Men or The Godfather movies...
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