Frequently called the greatest movie ever made, 1941's CITIZEN KANE is amazing to watch nearly 80 years after it was created.
It's startling how great 24-year-old Orson Welles is as the triple threat Director/Writer and star.
The world had never seen a film structured like this. The film opens at the end, then spins back a bit, then to the beginning, then back and forth in time until it brilliantly finds its way back to the conclusion.
We first meet an elderly Charles Foster Kane, living in an immense house, apparently alone and gasping his final word "Rosebud" as both his life and a snow globe slip out of his hands.
The estate is mobbed with reporters, one of which becomes our navigator through Kane's complicated, entitled, amazing life.
Emerging as one of America's most powerful men, Kane becomes a publishing tycoon. Power, control, corruption and vanity are all key players in a fascinating story.
Joseph Cotton (The Third Man, Soylent Green) is Jedediah, as close a friend as Kane will allow. Dorothy Comingore is terrific as Kane's second wife, wannabe opera singer Susan. She wants to sing, he builds her an opera house.
The story behind the film is as amazing as the movie itself. Welles (24 at the time!) was given complete carte blanche and a solid budget to create his vision. He took his famed radio Mercury Players troupe and brought his vision to life. But real life publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst, fearing that the story of Kane was really an unauthorized biography of his own life, used all his power to destroy the film, Welles and anyone in it. He branded players communists, feeding the McCarthy hearings. He intimidated the industry and tried to make the film go away.
Years later, film buffs will recognize the very first use of camera tricks, tracking shots, forced perspective sets...its a clinic on modern film making.
Welles and Director of Photography Gregg Toland (The Grapes of Wrath, The Best Years of Our Lives) created techniques on the fly that are still used today!
There's one scene where Kane is in his massive home and walks from the foreground to the background, where you realize the window you thought was normal size is massive, dwarfing and imprisoning Kane in his own home.
Future director Robert Wise (The Sound of Music, West Side Story, The Andromeda Strain) was Welles editor and composer Bernard Herrmann (Psycho, Taxi Driver) wrote the score.
At its center is Welles, creating his most amazing film his first time out. Named America's greatest film by the American Film Institute and countless others, CITIZEN KANE is legendary and still packs a dramatic punch.
It gets an A+ and lands firmly in my Top 100 films of all time.
Look for the 2 hour documentary "The Battle over Citizen Kane" detailing Hearst's personal war to destroy the film and Welles. It's amazing to watch the film's themes of power, vanity and corruption envelope the film itself.