Director: Orson Welles Cinematographer: Gregg Toland
Considered by some as overly self-conscious, artificial and even baroque, Orson Welles’s sensational first studio film examines the life and legacy of the fictional Charles Foster Kane (Welles himself) who rises from obscurity to become a publishing tycoon. Coming off the back of Welles’s infamous 1938 ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast, RKO gave him full creative freedom and let him loose on the studio’s latest technology. While his role as the ‘auteur’ has been questioned (Pauline Kael argued Herman J. Mankiewicz was the sole scriptwriter) it was his revolutionary approach to the film medium that encouraged large scale experimentation on existing techniques, particularly the complex narrative structure, cinematographer Greg Toland’s rule breaking use of lighting and deep focus and the innovative use of the music of composer Bernard Herrmann (his first film score), that helped make Citizen Kane a technical and stylistic triumph. Despite a campaign by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst that delayed the release (Hearst thought the portrayal of Kane to be too close to his own megalomaniac personality), the film received rave reviews and has gone on to be acclaimed as a landmark achievement in cinema.
Buy or Rent (watch online)
70th Anniversary, Buy or Rent (watch online)
75th Anniversary (DVD)
Essential Classics – Dramas (The Maltese Falcon / Citizen Kane / Ben-Hur) DVD
70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector’s Edition (DVD)
Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker’s Journey (kindle)
RKO 281 – The Battle Over Citizen Kane (DVD)
70th Anniversary Edition [Blu-ray Book]
- No. 3 on The Pendragon Society’s 1000 Greatest Films of All-Time (2019)
- No. 2 on Sight & Sound’s Critics 250 Greatest Films of All Time (2012)
- No. 1 on TSPDT: They Shoot Pictures, Don’t They? 1,000 Greatest Films (2018 Revision)
- No. 1 on The Village Voice’s 100 Best Films of the 20th Century (2000)
- No. 9 on Brussels World’s Fair (aka Expo 58) best films of all time (1958)
No. 1 on The most important and misappreciated American films since the beginning of the cinema (1978)
- Joseph Cotten as Jedediah Leland, Kane’s best friend and a reporter for The Inquirer. Cotten also appears (hidden in darkness) in the News on the March screening room.
- Dorothy Comingore as Susan Alexander Kane, Kane’s mistress and second wife.
- Agnes Moorehead as Mary Kane, Kane’s mother.
- Ruth Warrick as Emily Monroe Norton Kane, Kane’s first wife.
- Ray Collins as Jim W. Gettys, Kane’s political rival and the incumbent governor of New York.
- Erskine Sanford as Herbert Carter, editor of The Inquirer. Sanford also appears (hidden in darkness) in the News on the March screening room.
- Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein, Kane’s friend and employee at The Inquirer.
- William Alland as Jerry Thompson, a reporter for News on the March. Alland also voices the narrator of the News on the Marchnewsreel.
- Paul Stewart as Raymond, Kane’s butler.
- George Coulouris as Walter Parks Thatcher, a banker who becomes Kane’s legal guardian.
- Fortunio Bonanova as Signor Matiste, vocal coach of Susan Alexander Kane.
- Gus Schilling as John, headwaiter at the El Rancho nightclub. Schilling also appears (hidden in darkness) in the News on the Marchscreening room.
- Philip Van Zandt as Mr. Rawlston, News on the March producer.
- Georgia Backus as Bertha Anderson, attendant at the library of Walter Parks Thatcher.
- Harry Shannon as Jim Kane, Kane’s father.
- Sonny Bupp as Charles Foster Kane III, Kane’s son.
- Buddy Swan as Charles Foster Kane, age eight.
- Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane, a wealthy newspaper publisher.
Directed by Orson Welles
Produced by Orson Welles
Screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz, Orson Welles
Music by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography Gregg Toland
Edited by Robert Wise
Running time 119 minutes
Country United States