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Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane is a 1941 American mystery drama film by Orson Welles, its producer, co-screenwriter, director and star. The picture was Welles's first feature film. Nominated for Academy Awards in nine categories, it won an Academy Award for Best Writing (Original Screenplay) by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Welles. Considered by many critics, filmmakers, and fans to be the greatest film of all time, Citizen Kane was voted as such in five consecutive British Film Institute Sight & Sound polls of critics, and it topped the American Film Institute's 100 Years ... 100 Movies list in 1998, as well as its 2007 update. Citizen Kane is particularly praised for its cinematography, music, editing and narrative structure, which have been considered innovative and precedent-setting.

The quasi-biographical film examines the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, played by Welles, a character based in part upon the American newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, Chicago tycoons Samuel Insull and Harold McCormick, and aspects of Welles's own life. Upon its release, Hearst prohibited mention of the film in any of his newspapers. Kane's career in the publishing world is born of idealistic social service, but gradually evolves into a ruthless pursuit of power. Narrated principally through flashbacks, the story is told through the research of a newsreel reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate's dying word: "Rosebud".

After the Broadway successes of Welles's Mercury Theatre and the controversial 1938 radio broadcast "The War of the Worlds" on The Mercury Theatre on the Air, Welles was courted by Hollywood. He signed a contract with RKO Pictures in 1939. Unusually for an untried director, he was given the freedom to develop his own story, to use his own cast and crew, and to have final cut privilege. Following two abortive attempts to get a project off the ground, he wrote the screenplay for Citizen Kane, collaborating on the effort with Herman Mankiewicz. Principal photography took place in 1940 and the film received its American release in 1941.

While a critical success, Citizen Kane failed to recoup its costs at the box office. The film faded from view after its release but was subsequently returned to the public's attention when it was praised by such French critics as André Bazin and given an American revival in 1956. The film was released on Blu-ray on September 13, 2011, for a special 70th anniversary edition.

Plot

In a mansion in Xanadu, a vast palatial estate in Florida, the elderly Charles Foster Kane is on his deathbed. Holding a snow globe, he utters a word, "Rosebud", and dies; the globe slips from his hand and smashes on the floor. A newsreel obituary tells the life story of Kane, an enormously wealthy newspaper publisher. Kane's death becomes sensational news around the world, and the newsreel's producer tasks reporter Jerry Thompson with discovering the meaning of "Rosebud".

Thompson sets out to interview Kane's friends and associates. He approaches Kane's second wife, Susan Alexander Kane, now an alcoholic who runs her own nightclub, but she refuses to talk to him. Thompson goes to the private archive of the late banker Walter Parks Thatcher. Through Thatcher's written memoirs, Thompson learns that Kane's childhood began in poverty in Colorado.

In 1871, after a gold mine is discovered on her property, Kane's mother Mary Kane sends Charles away to live with Thatcher so that he would be properly educated. It is also implied that Kane's father could be violent towards his son and that is another reason she would like to send him away. While Thatcher and Charles' parents discuss arrangements inside, the young Kane plays happily with a sled in the snow outside his parents' boarding-house and protests being sent to live with Thatcher. Furious at the prospect of exile from his own family to live with a man he does not know, the boy strikes Thatcher with his sled and attempts to run away.

Years later, after gaining full control over his trust fund at the age of 25, Kane enters the newspaper business and embarks on a career of yellow journalism. He takes control of the New York Inquirer and starts publishing scandalous articles that attack Thatcher's business interests. After the stock market crash in 1929, Kane is forced to sell controlling interest of his newspaper empire to Thatcher.

Back in the present, Thompson interviews Kane's personal business manager, Mr. Bernstein. Bernstein recalls how Kane hired the best journalists available to build the Inquirer's circulation. Kane rose to power by successfully manipulating public opinion regarding the Spanish-American War and marrying Emily Norton, the niece of a President of the United States.

Thompson interviews Kane's estranged best friend, Jedediah Leland, in a retirement home. Leland recalls how Kane's marriage to Emily disintegrates more and more over the years, and he begins an affair with amateur singer Susan Alexander while he is running for Governor of New York. Both his wife and his political opponent discover the affair and the public scandal ends his political career. Kane marries Susan and forces her into a humiliating operatic career for which she has neither the talent nor the ambition.

Back in the present, Susan now consents to an interview with Thompson, and recalls her failed opera career. Kane finally allows her to abandon her singing career after she attempts suicide. After years spent dominated by Kane and living in isolation at Xanadu, Susan leaves Kane. Kane's butler Raymond recounts that, after Susan leaves him, Kane begins violently destroying the contents of her bedroom. He suddenly calms down when he sees a snow globe and says, "Rosebud".

Back at Xanadu, Kane's belongings are being cataloged or discarded. Thompson concludes that he is unable to solve the mystery and that the meaning of Kane's last word will forever remain an enigma. As the film ends, the camera reveals that "Rosebud" is the trade name of the sled on which the eight-year-old Kane was playing on the day that he was taken from his home in Colorado. Thought to be junk by Xanadu's staff, the sled is burned in a furnace.

Cast

The beginning of the film's ending credits state that "Most of the principal actors in Citizen Kane are new to motion pictures. The Mercury Theatre is proud to introduce them." The cast is listed in the following order:

  • 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 March newsreel.
  • 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 March screening 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.

Additionally, Charles Bennett appears as the entertainer at the head of the chorus line in the Inquirer party sequence, and cinematographer Gregg Toland makes a cameo appearance as an interviewer depicted in part of the News on the March newsreel. Actor Alan Ladd makes a cameo appearance as a reporter smoking a pipe at the end of the film.

Development

Hollywood had shown interest in Welles as early as 1936. He turned down three scripts sent to him by Warner Bros. In 1937, he declined offers from David O. Selznick, who asked him to head his film company's story department, and William Wyler, who wanted him for a supporting role in Wuthering Heights. "Although the possibility of making huge amounts of money in Hollywood greatly attracted him," wrote biographer Frank Brady, "he was still totally, hopelessly, insanely in love with the theater, and it is there that he had every intention of remaining to make his mark."

Following "The War of the Worlds" broadcast of his CBS radio series The Mercury Theatre on the Air, Welles was lured to Hollywood with a remarkable contract. RKO Pictures studio head George J. Schaefer wanted to work with Welles after the notorious broadcast, believing that Welles had a gift for attracting mass attention. RKO was also uncharacteristically profitable and was entering into a series of independent production contracts that would add more artistically prestigious films to its roster. Throughout the spring and early summer of 1939, Schaefer constantly tried to lure the reluctant Welles to Hollywood. Welles was in financial trouble after failure of his plays Five Kings and The Green Goddess. At first he simply wanted to spend three months in Hollywood and earn enough money to pay his debts and fund his next theatrical season. Welles first arrived on July 20, 1939 and on his first tour, he called the movie studio "the greatest electric train set a boy ever had".

Welles signed his contract with RKO on August 21. This legendary contract stipulated that Welles would act in, direct, produce and write two films. Mercury would get $100,000 for the first film by January 1, 1940, plus 20% of profits after RKO recouped $500,000, and $125,000 for a second film by January 1, 1941, plus 20% of profits after RKO recouped $500,000. The most controversial aspect of the contract was granting Welles complete artistic control of the two films so long as RKO approved both project's stories and so long as the budget did not exceed $500,000. RKO executives would not be allowed to see any footage until Welles chose to show it to them, and no cuts could be made to either film without Welles's approval. Welles was allowed to develop the story without interference, select his own cast and crew, and have the right of final cut. Granting final cut privilege was unprecedented for a studio since it placed artistic considerations over financial investment. The contract was deeply resented in the film industry, and the Hollywood press took every opportunity to mock RKO and Welles. Schaefer remained a great supporter and saw the unprecedented contract as good publicity. Film scholar Robert L. Carringer wrote: "The simple fact seems to be that Schaefer believed Welles was going to pull off something really big almost as much as Welles did himself."

Welles spent the first five months of his RKO contract trying to get his first project going, without success. "They are laying bets over on the RKO lot that the Orson Welles deal will end up without Orson ever doing a picture there," wrote The Hollywood Reporter. It was agreed that Welles would film Heart of Darkness, previously adapted for The Mercury Theatre on the Air, which would be presented entirely through a first-person camera. After elaborate pre-production and a day of test shooting with a hand-held camera--unheard of at the time--the project never reached production because Welles was unable to trim $50,000 from its budget. Schaefer told Welles that the $500,000 budget could not be exceeded; as war loomed, revenue was declining sharply in Europe by the fall of 1939.

He then started work on the idea that became Citizen Kane. Knowing the script would take time to prepare, Welles suggested to RKO that while that was being done--"so the year wouldn't be lost"--he make a humorous political thriller. Welles proposed The Smiler with a Knife, from a novel by Cecil Day-Lewis. When that project stalled in December 1939, Welles began brainstorming other story ideas with screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who had been writing Mercury radio scripts. "Arguing, inventing, discarding, these two powerful, headstrong, dazzlingly articulate personalities thrashed toward Kane", wrote biographer Richard Meryman.

Screenplay

One of the long-standing controversies about Citizen Kane has been the authorship of the screenplay. Welles conceived the project with screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz, who was writing radio plays for Welles's CBS Radio series, The Campbell Playhouse. Mankiewicz based the original outline on the life of William Randolph Hearst, whom he knew socially and came to hate after being exiled from Hearst's circle.

In February 1940 Welles supplied Mankiewicz with 300 pages of notes and put him under contract to write the first draft screenplay under the supervision of John Houseman, Welles's former partner in the Mercury Theatre. Welles later explained, "I left him on his own finally, because we'd started to waste too much time haggling. So, after mutual agreements on storyline and character, Mank went off with Houseman and did his version, while I stayed in Hollywood and wrote mine." Taking these drafts, Welles drastically condensed and rearranged them, then added scenes of his own. The industry accused Welles of underplaying Mankiewicz's contribution to the script, but Welles countered the attacks by saying, "At the end, naturally, I was the one making the picture, after all--who had to make the decisions. I used what I wanted of Mank's and, rightly or wrongly, kept what I liked of my own."

The terms of the contract stated that Mankiewicz was to receive no credit for his work, as he was hired as a script doctor. Before he signed the contract Mankiewicz was particularly advised by his agents that all credit for his work belonged to Welles and the Mercury Theatre, the "author and creator". As the film neared release, however, Mankiewicz began threatening Welles to get credit for the film--including threats to place full-page ads in trade papers and to get his friend Ben Hecht to write an exposé for The Saturday Evening Post. Mankiewicz also threatened to go to the Screen Writers Guild and claim full credit for writing the entire script by himself.

After lodging a protest with the Screen Writers Guild, Mankiewicz withdrew it, then vacillated. The question was resolved in January 1941 when the studio, RKO Pictures, awarded Mankiewicz credit. The guild credit form listed Welles first, Mankiewicz second. Welles's assistant Richard Wilson said that the person who circled Mankiewicz's name in pencil, then drew an arrow that put it in first place, was Welles. The official credit reads, "Screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles". Mankiewicz's rancor toward Welles grew over the remaining 12 years of his life.

Questions over the authorship of the Citizen Kane screenplay were revived in 1971 by influential film critic Pauline Kael, whose controversial 50,000-word essay "Raising Kane" was commissioned as an introduction to the shooting script in The Citizen Kane Book, published in October 1971. The book-length essay first appeared in February 1971, in two consecutive issues of The New Yorker magazine. In the ensuing controversy Welles was defended by colleagues, critics, biographers and scholars, but his reputation was damaged by its charges. The essay was later discredited and Kael's own scholarship was called into question.

Any question of authorship was resolved with Carringer's 1978 essay, "The Scripts of Citizen Kane". Carringer studied the collection of script records--"almost a day-to-day record of the history of the scripting"--that was then still intact at RKO. He reviewed all seven drafts and concluded that "the full evidence reveals that Welles's contribution to the Citizen Kane script was not only substantial but definitive."

Sources

Welles never confirmed a principal source for the character of Charles Foster Kane. Houseman wrote that Kane is a synthesis of different personalities, with Hearst's life used as the main source. Some events and details were invented, and Houseman wrote that he and Mankiewicz also "grafted anecdotes from other giants of journalism, including Pulitzer, Northcliffe and Mank's first boss, Herbert Bayard Swope." Welles said, "Mr. Hearst was quite a bit like Kane, although Kane isn't really founded on Hearst in particular. Many people sat for it, so to speak". He specifically acknowledged that aspects of Kane were drawn from the lives of two business tycoons familiar from his youth in Chicago--Samuel Insull and Harold Fowler McCormick.

The character of Jedediah Leland was based on drama critic Ashton Stevens, George Stevens's uncle and Welles's close boyhood friend. Some detail came from Mankiewicz's own experience as a drama critic in New York.

The assumption that the character of Susan Alexander Kane was based on Marion Davies was a major reason Hearst tried to destroy Citizen Kane. Welles denied that the character was based on Davies, whom he called "an extraordinary woman--nothing like the character Dorothy Comingore played in the movie." He cited Insull's building of the Chicago Opera House, and McCormick's lavish promotion of the opera career of his second wife, Ganna Walska, as direct influences on the screenplay.

The character of political boss Jim W. Gettys is based on Charles F. Murphy, a leader in New York City's infamous Tammany Hall political machine.

Welles credited "Rosebud" to Mankiewicz. Biographer Richard Meryman wrote that the symbol of Mankiewicz's own damaged childhood was a treasured bicycle, stolen while he visited the public library and not replaced by his family as punishment. He regarded it as the prototype of Charles Foster Kane's sled. In his 2015 Welles biography, Patrick McGilligan reported that Mankiewicz himself stated that the word "Rosebud" was taken from the name of a famous racehorse, Old Rosebud. Mankiewicz had a bet on the horse in the 1914 Kentucky Derby, which he won, and McGilligan wrote that "Old Rosebud symbolized his lost youth, and the break with his family". In testimony for the Lundberg suit, Mankiewicz said, "I had undergone psycho-analysis, and Rosebud, under circumstances slightly resembling the circumstances in [ Citizen Kane], played a prominent part." Other modern claims that the term was a nickname Hearst used for Davies' clitoris were rejected by Houseman and dismissed by Brady.

The News on the March sequence that begins the film satirizes the journalistic style of The March of Time, the news documentary and dramatization series presented in movie theaters by Time Inc. From 1935 to 1938 Welles was a member of the uncredited company of actors that presented the original radio version.

Houseman claimed that banker Walter P. Thatcher was loosely based on J. P. Morgan. Bernstein was named for Dr. Maurice Bernstein, appointed Welles's guardian; Sloane's portrayal was said to be based on Bernard Herrmann. Herbert Carter, editor of The Inquirer, was named for actor Jack Carter.

Casting

Citizen Kane was a rare film in that its principal roles were played by actors new to motion pictures. Ten were billed as Mercury Actors, members of the skilled repertory company assembled by Welles for the stage and radio performances of the Mercury Theatre, an independent theater company he founded with Houseman in 1937. "He loved to use the Mercury players," wrote biographer Charles Higham, "and consequently he launched several of them on movie careers."

The film represents the feature film debuts of William Alland, Ray Collins, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead, Erskine Sanford, Everett Sloane, Paul Stewart, and Welles himself. Despite never having appeared in feature films, some of the cast members were already well known to the public. Cotten had recently become a Broadway star in the hit play The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn and Sloane was well known for his role on the radio show The Goldbergs. Mercury actor George Coulouris was a star of the stage in New York and London.

Not all of the cast came from the Mercury Players. Welles cast Dorothy Comingore, an actress who played supporting parts in films since 1934 using the name "Linda Winters", as Susan Alexander Kane. A discovery of Charlie Chaplin, Comingore was recommended to Welles by Chaplin, who then met Comingore at a party in Los Angeles and immediately cast her.

Welles had met stage actress Ruth Warrick while visiting New York on a break from Hollywood and remembered her as a good fit for Emily Norton Kane, later saying that she looked the part. Warrick told Carringer that she was struck by the extraordinary resemblance between herself and Welles's mother when she saw a photograph of Beatrice Ives Welles. She characterized her own personal relationship with Welles as motherly.

"He trained us for films at the same time that he was training himself," recalled Agnes Moorehead. "Orson believed in good acting, and he realized that rehearsals were needed to get the most from his actors. That was something new in Hollywood: nobody seemed interested in bringing in a group to rehearse before scenes were shot. But Orson knew it was necessary, and we rehearsed every sequence before it was shot."

When The March of Time narrator Westbrook Van Voorhis asked for $25,000 to narrate the News on the March sequence, Alland demonstrated his ability to imitate Van Voorhis and Welles cast him.

Welles later said that casting character actor Gino Corrado in the small part of the waiter at the El Rancho broke his heart. Corrado had appeared in many Hollywood films, often as a waiter, and Welles wanted all of the actors to be new to films.

Other uncredited roles went to Thomas A. Curran as Teddy Roosevelt in the faux newsreel; Richard Baer as Hillman, a man at Madison Square Garden, and a man in the News on the March screening room; and Alan Ladd, Arthur O'Connell and Louise Currie as reporters at Xanadu.

When Kathryn Trosper Popper died on March 6, 2016, at the age of 100 she was reported to be the last surviving actor to appear in Citizen Kane. Jean Forward, a soprano who dubbed the singing voice of Susan Alexander, was the last surviving performer from the film before her death in 2016. Warrick was the last surviving member of the principal cast at the time of her death in 2005. Sonny Bupp, who played Kane's young son, was the last surviving credited cast member of Citizen Kane when he died in 2007.

Filming

Production advisor Miriam Geiger quickly compiled a handmade film textbook for Welles, a practical reference book of film techniques that he studied carefully. He then taught himself filmmaking by matching its visual vocabulary to The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which he ordered from the Museum of Modern Art, and films by Frank Capra, René Clair, Fritz Lang, King Vidor and Jean Renoir. The one film he genuinely studied was John Ford's Stagecoach, which he watched 40 times. "As it turned out, the first day I ever walked onto a set was my first day as a director," Welles said. "I'd learned whatever I knew in the projection room--from Ford. After dinner every night for about a month, I'd run Stagecoach, often with some different technician or department head from the studio, and ask questions. 'How was this done?' 'Why was this done?' It was like going to school."

Welles's cinematographer for the film was Gregg Toland, described by Welles as "just then, the number-one cameraman in the world." To Welles's astonishment, Toland visited him at his office and said, "I want you to use me on your picture." He had seen some of the Mercury stage productions (including Caesar) and said he wanted to work with someone who had never made a movie. RKO hired Toland on loan from Samuel Goldwyn Productions in the first week of June 1940.

"And he never tried to impress us that he was doing any miracles," Welles recalled. "I was calling for things only a beginner would have been ignorant enough to think anybody could ever do, and there he was, doing them." Toland later explained that he wanted to work with Welles because he anticipated the first time director's inexperience and reputation for audacious experimentation in the theater would allow the cinematographer to try new and innovative camera techniques that typical Hollywood films would never have allowed him to do. Unaware of filmmaking protocol, Welles adjusted the lights on set as he was accustomed to doing in the theater; Toland quietly re-balanced them, and was angry when one of the crew informed Welles that he was infringing on Toland's responsibilities. During the first few weeks of June, Welles had lengthy discussions about the film with Toland and art director Perry Ferguson in the morning, and in the afternoon and evening he worked with actors and revised the script.

On June 29, 1940--a Saturday morning when few inquisitive studio executives would be around--Welles began filming Citizen Kane. After the disappointment of having Heart of Darkness cancelled, Welles followed Ferguson's suggestion and deceived RKO into believing that he was simply shooting camera tests. "But we were shooting the picture," Welles said, "because we wanted to get started and be already into it before anybody knew about it."

At the time RKO executives were pressuring him to agree to direct a film called The Men from Mars, to capitalize on "The War of the Worlds" radio broadcast. Welles said that he would consider making the project but wanted to make a different film first. At this time he did not inform them that he had already begun filming Citizen Kane.

The early footage was called "Orson Welles Tests" on all paperwork. The first "test" shot was the News on the March projection room scene, economically filmed in a real studio projection room in darkness that masked many actors who appeared in other roles later in the film. "At $809 Orson did run substantially beyond the test budget of $528--to create one of the most famous scenes in movie history," wrote Barton Whaley.

The next scenes were the El Rancho nightclub scenes and the scene in which Susan attempts suicide. Welles later said that the nightclub set was available after another film had wrapped and that filming took 10 to 12 days to complete. For these scenes Welles had Comingore's throat sprayed with chemicals to give her voice a harsh, raspy tone. Other scenes shot in secret included those in which Thompson interviews Leland and Bernstein, which were also shot on sets built for other films.

During production, the film was referred to as RKO 281. Most of the filming took place in what is now Stage 19 on the Paramount Pictures lot in Hollywood. There was some location filming at Balboa Park in San Diego and the San Diego Zoo.

In the end of July, RKO approved the film and Welles was allowed to officially begin shooting, despite having already been filming "tests" for several weeks. Welles leaked stories to newspaper reporters that the tests had been so good that there was no need to re-shoot them. The first official scene to be shot was the breakfast montage sequence between Kane and his first wife Emily. To strategically save money and appease the RKO executives who opposed him, Welles rehearsed scenes extensively before actually shooting and filmed very few takes of each shot set-up. Welles never shot master shots for any scene after Toland told him that Ford never shot them. To appease the increasingly curious press, Welles threw a cocktail party for selected reporters, promising that they could watch a scene being filmed. When the journalists arrived Welles told them they had "just finished" shooting for the day but still had the party. Welles told the press that he was ahead of schedule (without factoring in the month of "test shooting"), thus discrediting claims that after a year in Hollywood without making a film he was a failure in the film industry.

Welles usually worked 16 to 18 hours a day on the film. He often began work at 4 a.m. since the special effects make-up used to age him for certain scenes took up to four hours to apply. Welles used this time to discuss the day's shooting with Toland and other crew members. The special contact lenses used to make Welles look elderly proved very painful, and a doctor was employed to place them into Welles's eyes. Welles had difficulty seeing clearly while wearing them, which caused him to badly cut his wrist when shooting the scene in which Kane breaks up the furniture in Susan's bedroom. While shooting the scene in which Kane shouts at Gettys on the stairs of Susan Alexander's apartment building, Welles fell ten feet; an X-ray revealed two bone chips in his ankle. The injury required him to direct the film from a wheelchair for two weeks. He eventually wore a steel brace to resume performing on camera; it is visible in the low-angle scene between Kane and Leland after Kane loses the election. For the final scene, a stage at the Selznick studio was equipped with a working furnace, and multiple takes were required to show the sled being put into the fire and the word "Rosebud" consumed. Paul Stewart recalled that on the ninth take the Culver City Fire Department arrived in full gear because the furnace had grown so hot the flue caught fire. "Orson was delighted with the commotion", he said.

When "Rosebud" was burned, Welles choreographed the scene while he had composer Bernard Herrmann's cue playing on the set.

Unlike Schaefer, many members of RKO's board of governors did not like Welles or the control that his contract gave him. However such board members as Nelson Rockefeller and NBC chief David Sarnoff were sympathetic to Welles. Throughout production Welles had problems with these executives not respecting his contract's stipulation of non-interference and several spies arrived on set to report what they saw to the executives. When the executives would sometimes arrive on set unannounced the entire cast and crew would suddenly start playing softball until they left. Before official shooting began the executives intercepted all copies of the script and delayed their delivery to Welles. They had one copy sent to their office in New York, resulting in it being leaked to press.

Principal shooting wrapped October 24. Welles then took several weeks off of the film for a lecture tour, during which he also scouted additional locations with Toland and Ferguson. Filming resumed November 15 with some re-shoots. Toland had to leave due to a commitment to shoot Howard Hughes' The Outlaw, but Toland's camera crew continued working on the film and Toland was replaced by RKO cinematographer Harry J. Wild. The final day of shooting on November 30 was Kane's death scene. Welles boasted that he only went 21 days over his official shooting schedule, without factoring in the month of "camera tests." According to RKO records, the film cost $839,727. Its estimated budget had been $723,800.

Post-production

Citizen Kane was edited by Robert Wise and assistant editor Mark Robson. Both would become successful film directors. Wise was hired after Welles finished shooting the "camera tests" and began officially making the film. Wise said that Welles "had an older editor assigned to him for those tests and evidently he was not too happy and asked to have somebody else. I was roughly Orson's age and had several good credits." Wise and Robson began editing the film while it was still shooting and said that they "could tell certainly that we were getting something very special. It was outstanding film day in and day out." Welles gave Wise detailed instructions and was usually not present during the film's editing. The film was very well planned out and intentionally shot for such post-production techniques as slow dissolves. The lack of coverage made editing easy since Welles and Toland edited the film "in camera" by leaving few options of how it could be put together. Wise said the breakfast table sequence took weeks to edit and get the correct "timing" and "rhythm" for the whip pans and overlapping dialogue. The News on the March sequence was edited by RKO's newsreel division to give it authenticity. They used stock footage from Pathé News and the General Film Library.

During post-production Welles and special effects artist Linwood G. Dunn experimented with an optical printer to improve certain scenes that Welles found unsatisfactory from the footage. Whereas Welles was often immediately pleased with Wise's work, he would require Dunn and post-production audio engineer James G. Stewart to re-do their work several times until he was satisfied.

Welles hired Bernard Herrmann to compose the film's score. Where most Hollywood film scores were written quickly, in as few as two or three weeks after filming was completed, Herrmann was given 12 weeks to write the music. He had sufficient time to do his own orchestrations and conducting, and worked on the film reel by reel as it was shot and cut. He wrote complete musical pieces for some of the montages, and Welles edited many of the scenes to match their length.

Trailer

Written and directed by Welles at Toland's suggestion, the theatrical trailer for Citizen Kane differs from other trailers in that it did not feature a single second of footage of the actual film itself, but acts as a wholly original, tongue-in-cheek, pseudo-documentary piece on the film's production. Filmed at the same time as Citizen Kane itself, it offers the only existing behind-the-scenes footage of the film. The trailer, shot by Wild instead of Toland, follows an unseen Welles as he provides narration for a tour around the film set, introductions to the film's core cast members, and a brief overview of Kane's character. The trailer also contains a number of trick shots, including one of Everett Sloane appearing at first to be running into the camera, which turns out to be the reflection of the camera in a mirror.

At the time, it was almost unprecedented for a film trailer to not actually feature anything of the film itself; and while Citizen Kane is frequently cited as a groundbreaking, influential film, Simon Callow argues its trailer was no less original in its approach. Callow writes that it has "great playful charm ... it is a miniature documentary, almost an introduction to the cinema ... Teasing, charming, completely original, it is a sort of conjuring trick: Without his face appearing once on the screen, Welles entirely dominates its five [sic] minutes' duration."

Style

Film scholars and historians view Citizen Kane as Welles's attempt to create a new style of filmmaking by studying various forms of it and combining them into one. However, Welles stated that his love for cinema began only when he started working on the film. When asked where he got the confidence as a first-time director to direct a film so radically different from contemporary cinema, he responded, "Ignorance, ignorance, sheer ignorance--you know there's no confidence to equal it. It's only when you know something about a profession, I think, that you're timid or careful."

David Bordwell wrote that "The best way to understand Citizen Kane is to stop worshiping it as a triumph of technique." Bordwell argues that the film did not invent any of its famous techniques such as deep focus cinematography, shots of the ceilings, chiaroscuro lighting and temporal jump-cuts, and that many of these stylistics had been used in German Expressionist films of the 1920s, such as The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. But Bordwell asserts that the film did put them all together for the first time and perfected the medium in one single film. In a 1948 interview, D. W. Griffith said, "I loved Citizen Kane and particularly loved the ideas he took from me."

Arguments against the film's cinematic innovations were made as early as 1946 when French historian Georges Sadoul wrote, "The film is an encyclopedia of old techniques." He pointed out such examples as compositions that used both the foreground and the background in the films of Auguste and Louis Lumière, special effects used in the films of Georges Méliès, shots of the ceiling in Erich von Stroheim's Greed and newsreel montages in the films of Dziga Vertov.

French film critic André Bazin defended the film, writing: "In this respect, the accusation of plagiarism could very well be extended to the film's use of panchromatic film or its exploitation of the properties of gelatinous silver halide." Bazin disagreed with Sadoul's comparison to Lumière's cinematography since Citizen Kane used more sophisticated lenses, but acknowledged that it had similarities to such previous works as The 49th Parallel and The Power and the Glory. Bazin stated that "even if Welles did not invent the cinematic devices employed in Citizen Kane, one should nevertheless credit him with the invention of their meaning." Bazin championed the techniques in the film for its depiction of heightened reality, but Bordwell believed that the film's use of special effects contradicted some of Bazin's theories.

Storytelling techniques

Citizen Kane eschews the traditional linear, chronological narrative, and tells Kane's story entirely in flashback using different points of view, many of them from Kane's aged and forgetful associates, the cinematic equivalent of the unreliable narrator in literature. Welles also dispenses with the idea of a single storyteller and uses multiple narrators to recount Kane's life. The use of multiple narrators was unheard of in Hollywood films. Each narrator recounts a different part of Kane's life, with each story partly overlapping. The film depicts Kane as an enigma, a complicated man who, in the end, leaves viewers with more questions than answers as to his character, such as the newsreel footage where he is attacked for being both a communist and a fascist.

The technique of using flashbacks had been used in earlier films--most notably in The Power and the Glory (1933)--but no film was as immersed in this technique as Citizen Kane. The use of the reporter Thompson acts as a surrogate for the audience, questioning Kane's associates and piecing together his life.

At that time films typically had an "omniscient perspective", which Marilyn Fabe says give the audience the "illusion that we are looking with impunity into a world which is unaware of our gaze, Hollywood movies give us a feeling of power." The film begins in this fashion up until the News on the March sequence, after which we the audience see the film through the perspectives of others. The News on the March sequence gives an overview of Kane's entire life (and the film's entire story) at the beginning of the film, leaving the audience without the typical suspense of wondering how it will end. Instead the film's repetitions of events compels the audience to analyze and wonder why Kane's life happened the way that it did, under the pretext of finding out what "Rosebud" means. The film then returns to the omniscient perspective in the final scene, when only the audience discovers what "Rosebud" is.

Cinematography

The most innovative technical aspect of Citizen Kane is the extended use of deep focus. In nearly every scene in the film, the foreground, background and everything in between are all in sharp focus. Cinematographer Toland did this through his experimentation with lenses and lighting. Toland described the achievement, made possible by the sensitivity of modern speed film, in an article for Theatre Arts magazine:

New developments in the science of motion picture photography are not abundant at this advanced stage of the game but periodically one is perfected to make this a greater art. Of these I am in an excellent position to discuss what is termed "Pan-focus", as I have been active for two years in its development and used it for the first time in Citizen Kane. Through its use, it is possible to photograph action from a range of eighteen inches from the camera lens to over two hundred feet away, with extreme foreground and background figures and action both recorded in sharp relief. Hitherto, the camera had to be focused either for a close or a distant shot, all efforts to encompass both at the same time resulting in one or the other being out of focus. This handicap necessitated the breaking up of a scene into long and short angles, with much consequent loss of realism. With pan-focus, the camera, like the human eye, sees an entire panorama at once, with everything clear and lifelike.

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Both this article and a May 1941 Life magazine article with illustrated examples helped popularize deep focus cinematography and Toland's achievements on the film.

Another unorthodox method used in the film was the way low-angle shots were used to display a point of view facing upwards, thus allowing ceilings to be shown in the background of several scenes. Breaking with studio convention, every set was built with a ceiling--many constructed of fabric that ingeniously concealed microphones. Welles felt that the camera should show what the eyes see, and that it was a bad theatrical convention to pretend there was no ceiling--"a big lie in order to get all those terrible lights up there," he said. He became fascinated with the look of low angles, which made even dull interiors look interesting. One extremely low angle is used to photograph the encounter between Kane and Leland after Kane loses the election. A hole was dug for the camera, which required drilling into the concrete floor.

Welles credited Toland on the same title card as himself and said "It's impossible to say how much I owe to Gregg. He was superb." He called Toland "the best director of photography that ever existed."

Sound

Citizen Kane's sound was recorded by Bailey Fesler and re-recorded in post-production by audio engineer James G. Stewart, both of whom had worked in radio. Stewart said that Hollywood films never deviated from a basic pattern of how sound could be recorded or used, but with Welles "deviation from the pattern was possible because he demanded it." Although the film is known for its complex soundtrack, much of the audio is heard as it was recorded by Fesler and without manipulation.

Welles used techniques from radio like overlapping dialogue. The scene in which characters sing "Oh, Mr. Kane" was especially complicated and required mixing several soundtracks together. He also used different "sound perspectives" to create the illusion of distances, such as in scenes at Xanadu where characters speak to each other at far distances. Welles experimented with sound in post-production, creating audio montages, and chose to create all of the sound effects for the film instead of using RKO's library of sound effects.

Welles used an aural technique from radio called the "lightning-mix". Welles used this technique to link complex montage sequences via a series of related sounds or phrases. For example, Kane grows from a child into a young man in just two shots. As Thatcher hands eight-year-old Kane a sled and wishes him a Merry Christmas, the sequence suddenly jumps to a shot of Thatcher fifteen years later, completing the sentence he began in both the previous shot and the chronological past. Other radio techniques include using a number of voices, each saying a sentence or sometimes merely a fragment of a sentence, and splicing the dialogue together in quick succession, such as the projection room scene. The film's sound cost $16,996, but was originally budgeted at $7,288.

Film critic and director François Truffaut wrote that "Before Kane, nobody in Hollywood knew how to set music properly in movies. Kane was the first, in fact the only, great film that uses radio techniques. ... A lot of filmmakers know enough to follow Auguste Renoir's advice to fill the eyes with images at all costs, but only Orson Welles understood that the sound track had to be filled in the same way." Cedric Belfrage of The Clipper wrote "of all of the delectable flavours that linger on the palate after seeing Kane, the use of sound is the strongest."

Make-up

The make-up for Citizen Kane was created and applied by Maurice Seiderman (1907-1989), a junior member of the RKO make-up department. Seiderman's family came to the United States from Russia in 1920, escaping persecution. As a child Seiderman had won a drawing competition and received an apprenticeship at the Moscow Art Theatre, where his father was a wigmaker and make-up artist. In New York his uncle was a theatrical scenic painter, and he helped Seiderman get into the union. He worked on Max Reinhardt's 1924 production of The Miracle and with the Yiddish Art Theatre, and he studied the human figure at the Art Students League of New York. After he moved to Los Angeles he was hired first by Max Factor and then by RKO. Seiderman had not been accepted into the union, which recognized him as only an apprentice, but RKO nevertheless used him to make up principal actors.

"Apprentices were not supposed to make up any principals, only extras, and an apprentice could not be on a set without a journeyman present," wrote make-up artist Dick Smith, who became friends with Seiderman in 1979. "During his years at RKO I suspect these rules were probably overlooked often." By 1940 Seiderman's uncredited film work included Winterset, Gunga Din, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Swiss Family Robinson and Abe Lincoln in Illinois. "Seiderman had gained a reputation as one of the most inventive and creatively precise up-and-coming makeup men in Hollywood," wrote biographer Frank Brady.

On an early tour of RKO, Welles met Seiderman in the small make-up lab he created for himself in an unused dressing room. "Welles fastened on to him at once," wrote biographer Charles Higham. "With his great knowledge of makeup--indeed, his obsession with it, for he hated his flat nose--Welles was fascinated ... Seiderman had an intimate knowledge of anatomy and the process of aging and was acquainted with every line, wrinkle and accretion of fat in aging men and women. Impatient with most makeup methods of his era, he used casts of his subjects in order to develop makeup methods that ensured complete naturalness of expression--a naturalness unrivaled in Hollywood."

"When Kane came out in script form, Orson told all of us about the picture and said that the most important aspect was the makeup," Seiderman recalled. "I felt that I was being given an assignment that was unique--so I worked accordingly. And there was a lot of work to do. Straight makeups were done in the makeup department by staff, but all the trick stuff and the principal characters were my personal work; nobody else ever touched them. They could not have handled it."

Seiderman developed a thorough plan for aging the principal characters, first making a plaster cast of the face of each of the actors who aged, except Joseph Cotten who was unavailable at that time. He made a plaster mold of Welles's body down to the hips.

"My sculptural techniques for the characters' aging were handled by adding pieces of white modeling clay, which matched the plaster, onto the surface of each bust," Seiderman told visual arts historian Norman Gambill. When Seiderman achieved the desired effect he cast the clay pieces in a soft plastic material that he formulated himself. These appliances were then placed onto the plaster bust and a four-piece mold was made for each phase of aging. The castings were then fully painted and paired with the appropriate wig for evaluation.

Before the actors went before the cameras each day, the pliable pieces were applied directly to their faces to recreate Seiderman's sculptural image. Welles was allergic to Max Factor's gum, so Seiderman invented an alternative that also photographed more realistically. The facial surface was underpainted in a flexible red plastic compound; Cotten recalled being instructed to puff out his cheeks during this process. Later, seeing the results in the mirror, Cotten told Seiderman, "I am acting the part of a nice old gentleman, not a relief map of the Rocky Mountains." Seiderman replied, "You'd be surprised at what the camera doesn't see unless we place it within its view. How about some more coffee?"

The red ground resulted in a warmth of tone that was picked up by the sensitive panchromatic film. Over that was applied liquid greasepaint, and then finally a colorless translucent talcum. Seiderman created the effect of skin pores on Kane's face by stippling the surface with a negative cast he made from an orange peel.

Welles was just as heavily made up as young Kane as he was for old Kane, and he often arrived on the set at 2:30 a.m. Application of the sculptural make-up for the oldest incarnation of the character took three-and-a-half hours. The make-up included appliances to age Welles's shoulders, breast and stomach. "In the film and production photographs, you can see that Kane had a belly that overhung," Seiderman said. "That was not a costume, it was the rubber sculpture that created the image. You could see how Kane's silk shirt clung wetly to the character's body. It could not have been done any other way."

Seiderman worked with Charles Wright on the wigs. These went over a flexible skull cover that Seiderman created and sewed into place with elastic thread. When he found the wigs too full he untied one hair at a time to alter their shape. Kane's mustache was inserted into the makeup surface a few hairs at a time, to realistically vary the color and texture.

Seiderman made scleral lenses for Welles, Dorothy Comingore, George Coulouris and Everett Sloane, to dull the brightness of their young eyes. The lenses took a long time to fit properly, and Seiderman began work on them before devising any of the other makeup. "I painted them to age in phases, ending with the blood vessels and the Aurora Senilis of old age."

"Cotten was the only principal for whom I had not made any sculptural casts, wigs or lenses," Seiderman said. When Cotten's old-age scenes needed to be shot out of sequence due to Welles's injured ankle, Seiderman improvised with appliances made for Kane's make-up. A sun visor was chosen to conceal Cotten's low hairline and the lenses he wore--hastily supplied by a Beverly Hills ophthalmologist--were uncomfortable.

Seiderman's tour de force, the breakfast montage, was shot all in one day. "Twelve years, two years shot at each scene," he said. "Please realize, by the way, that a two-year jump in age is a bit harder to accomplish visually than one of 20 years."

As they did with art direction, the major studios gave screen credit for make-up to only the department head. When RKO make-up department head Mel Berns refused to share credit with Seiderman, who was only an apprentice, Welles told Berns that there would be no make-up credit. Welles signed a large advertisement in the Los Angeles newspaper:

THANKS TO EVERYBODY WHO GETS SCREEN CREDIT FOR "CITIZEN KANE"
AND THANKS TO THOSE WHO DON'T
TO ALL THE ACTORS, THE CREW, THE OFFICE, THE MUSICIANS, EVERYBODY
AND PARTICULARLY TO MAURICE SEIDERMAN, THE BEST MAKE-UP MAN IN THE WORLD

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"To put this event in context, remember that I was a very low man," Seiderman recalled. "I wasn't even called a make-up man. I had started their laboratory and developed their plastic appliances for make-up. But my salary was $25 a week. And I had no union card."

Seiderman told Gambill that after Citizen Kane was released, Welles was invited to a White House dinner where Frances Perkins was among the guests. Welles told her about the Russian immigrant who did the make-up for his film but could not join the union. Seiderman said the head of the union received a call from the Labor Department the next day, and in November 1941 he was a full union member.

Sets

Although credited as an assistant, the film's art direction was done by Perry Ferguson. Welles and Ferguson got along during their collaboration. In the weeks before production began Welles, Toland and Ferguson met regularly to discuss the film and plan every shot, set design and prop. Ferguson would take notes during these discussions and create rough designs of the sets and story boards for individual shots. After Welles approved the rough sketches, Ferguson made miniature models for Welles and Toland to experiment on with a periscope in order to rehearse and perfect each shot. Ferguson then had detailed drawings made for the set design, including the film's lighting design. The set design was an integral part of the film's overall look and Toland's cinematography.

In the original script the Great Hall at Xanadu was modeled after the Great Hall in Hearst Castle and its design included a mixture of Renaissance and Gothic styles. "The Hearstian element is brought out in the almost perverse juxtaposition of incongruous architectural styles and motifs," wrote Carringer. Before RKO cut the film's budget, Ferguson's designs were more elaborate and resembled the production designs of early Cecil B. DeMille films and Intolerance. The budget cuts reduced Ferguson's budget by 33 percent and his work cost $58,775 total, which was below average at that time. To save costs Ferguson and Welles re-wrote scenes in Xanadu's living room and transported them to the Great Hall. A large staircase from another film was found and used at no additional cost. When asked about the limited budget, Ferguson said "Very often--as in that much-discussed 'Xanadu' set in Citizen Kane--we can make a foreground piece, a background piece, and imaginative lighting suggest a great deal more on the screen than actually exists on the stage." According to the film's official budget there were 81 sets built, but Ferguson said there were between 106 and 116.

Still photographs of Oheka Castle in Huntington, New York, were used in the opening montage, representing Kane's Xanadu estate. Ferguson also designed statues from Kane's collection with styles ranging from Greek to German Gothic. The sets were also built to accommodate Toland's camera movements. Walls were built to fold and furniture could quickly be moved. The film's famous ceilings were made out of muslin fabric and camera boxes were built into the floors for low angle shots. Welles later said that he was proud that the film production value looked much more expensive than the film's budget. Although neither worked with Welles again, Toland and Ferguson collaborated in several films in the 1940s.

Special effects

The film's special effects were supervised by RKO department head Vernon L. Walker. Welles pioneered several visual effects to cheaply shoot things like crowd scenes and large interior spaces. For example, the scene in which the camera in the opera house rises dramatically to the rafters, to show the workmen showing a lack of appreciation for Susan Alexander Kane's performance, was shot by a camera craning upwards over the performance scene, then a curtain wipe to a miniature of the upper regions of the house, and then another curtain wipe matching it again with the scene of the workmen. Other scenes effectively employed miniatures to make the film look much more expensive than it truly was, such as various shots of Xanadu.

Some shots included rear screen projection in the background, such as Thompson's interview of Leland and some of the ocean backgrounds at Xanadu. Bordwell claims that the scene where Thatcher agrees to be Kane's guardian used rear screen projection to depict young Kane in the background, despite this scene being cited as a prime example of Toland's deep focus cinematography. A special effects camera crew from Walker's department was required for the extreme close-up shots such as Kane's lips when he says "Rosebud" and the shot of the typewriter typing Susan's bad review.

Optical effects artist Dunn claimed that "up to 80 percent of some reels was optically printed." These shots were traditionally attributed to Toland for years. The optical printer improved some of the deep focus shots. One problem with the optical printer was that it sometimes created excessive graininess, such as the optical zoom out of the snow globe. Welles decided to superimpose snow falling to mask the graininess in these shots. Toland said that he disliked the results of the optical printer, but acknowledged that "RKO special effects expert Vernon Walker, ASC, and his staff handled their part of the production--a by no means inconsiderable assignment--with ability and fine understanding."

Any time deep focus was impossible--as in the scene in which Kane finishes a negative review of Susan's opera while at the same time firing the person who began writing the review--an optical printer was used to make the whole screen appear in focus, visually layering one piece of film onto another. However, some apparently deep-focus shots were the result of in-camera effects, as in the famous scene in which Kane breaks into Susan's room after her suicide attempt. In the background, Kane and another man break into the room, while simultaneously the medicine bottle and a glass with a spoon in it are in closeup in the foreground. The shot was an in-camera matte shot. The foreground was shot first, with the background dark. Then the background was lit, the foreground darkened, the film rewound, and the scene re-shot with the background action.

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