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Hey kid, wanna make a movie?

  • Aug 21, 2010
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+5

I think Orson Welles was the greatest creative genius in film who never really reached his full potential.  Having said that, he remains one of the greatest creative figures in American cinema and radio!!!  Since Scotman has done an excellent review about the movie and the plot, I wanted this review to beprimarily about Orson Welles the creative genius and some information on the "back story" about the movie that made his reputation.

After creating a sensation across America with his radio rendition of H. G. Wells “War of the Worlds” on Halloween night in 1938, this twenty-four year old “wunderkind” was lured to Hollywood to make movies in 1939.  His first film idea unfortunately was rejected by RKO studio; it was an adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness.”  He had done the story on Radio with his Mercury Theatre Players to great acclaim.  I would have loved to seen Welles’ make a film on this great haunting story.  A loose adaptation would not come for some forty years later with the incomparable Francis Ford Coppolla film “Apocalypse Now.”  However, Orson’s first film for RKO was “Citizen Kane” (1941).  He directed, starred and co-wrote the screenplay with Herman Mankiewicz, it was nominated for nine Academy Awards and won for Best Screenplay.  Still considered by the American Film Institute as the greatest movie ever made!!!  I do not disagree.  Here are a few interesting facts about this film. 

Orson had no experience in film; he was primarily a radio entertainer.  He had to learn about cinematography very quickly.  He got his cinematographer Gregg Toland to give him a “crash course” on how to shoot a movie, the great camera angles of the film proves that Orson was a very quick study. 
Film scholars and historians view “Citizen Kane” as Welles' attempt to create a new style of filmmaking by studying various forms of movie making, and combining them all into one. 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. This was done by cinematographer Gregg Toland through his experimentation with lenses and lighting. Specifically, Toland often used telephoto lenses to shoot close-up scenes.

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.  This technique happens to be one of my very favorite used in the movie.  Since movies were primarily filmed on sound stages and not on location during the era of the Hollywood studio system, it was impossible to film at an angle that showed ceilings because the stages had none.  Welles changed all that.  There is one great story of how Orson wasn’t satisfied with the camera angle of a particular scene, even after Toland had put the camera on the floor of the sound stage.  Toland told Orson it was impossible to get a better angle.  Not being satisfied, Orson took the fire axe off the wall and proceeded to hack a hole into the floor of the sound stage allowing the camera to be lowered an extra three feet; thus Orson attained his desired cinematic angle and the student surpassed his teacher!!!

When execs at RKO couldn't decide on greenlight-ing “Citizen Kane” (1941), Orson asked for film equipment and a small crew released so he could spend the mid-way time doing test shots. Not wanting their New-York-import to grow cold with the RKO deal, they granted the request ... Orson proceeded to shoot actual scenes of the movie. By the time execs realized what he had done, Orson had many key scenes complete. They green-lit Citizen Kane (1941) ... Already having financed the picture, unknowingly.

Finally, Welles prevented studio executives of RKO from visiting the set. He understood their desire to control projects and he knew they were expecting him to do an exciting film that would correspond to his “The War of the Worlds” radio broadcast. Welles' RKO contract had given him complete control over the production of the film when he signed on with the studio, something that he never again was allowed to exercise when making motion pictures.  It is a great pity to of ham strung a creative genius like Wells.

In 1975, in spite of all his box-office failures, he received the American Film Institute's 3rd Lifetime
Achievement Award in 1975 from its Chairman Charlton Heston, who said of Welles in his remarks; “The first AFI award went to a director (John Ford), the second to an actor, (James Cagney). In Orson Welles, we honor both crafts.” In 1984 the Directors Guild of America awarded him its highest honor, the D.W. Griffith Award. His reputation as a film maker has climbed steadily ever since.  A fitting tribute to this cinematic genius. 

By the way, if you want to learn more about Welles’ career, see my review at http://www.lunch.com/Reviews/actor/Orson_Wel...html?cid=428#rid:122584

Also, if you want to learn more about the great movie “Apocalypse Now” see http://www.lunch.com/Reviews/movie/Apocalyps....html?cid=13#rid:105338
 

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More Citizen Kane reviews
review by . October 17, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Citizen Kane      "Rosebud..."       "Welles's accidental semi-autobiographical film stops trying to tell a good story, but tells a story perfectly."    Is this the greatest film of all time? Well to answer this question we have to understand the type of person who watches this film. When someone out of the blue decides to become a film critic, of course they rummage through various critic's lists and polls', …
review by . August 05, 2009
There are lots of movies we can argue one must see in his lifetime.  Casablanca, Ben Hur, Star Wars, The Godfather, The Wizard of Oz, Gone with Wind... just to name a few, but few stand as high on that list of "Movies you should see at least once," quite like Citizen Kane.  At the time of it's release in 1941, it was hailed as one of the movies which changed the industry.  The reasons why are all but forgotten now.  So all Citizen Kane has to stand on now is it's story, …
Quick Tip by . August 29, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Caption
I think Orson Welles was the greatest creative genius in film who never really reached his full potential.  Having said that, he remains one of the greatest creative figures in American cinema and radio!!!  Since Scotman has done an excellent review about the movie and the plot, I wanted this review to beprimarily about Orson Welles the creative genius and some information on the "back story" about the movie that made his reputation.      After creating a …
Quick Tip by . July 25, 2010
A really classic picture, depicting the attitude of that decade.
review by . March 04, 2010
In 1941 actor/director/writer Orson Welles would release one of the most cherished films to ever hit the silver screen. Many have cited it as the greatest film of all time, and many more agree that Citizen Kane is the quintessential American movie. Like all great films it transcends traditional narrative to become something all its own. The movie almost holds a surreal feel as audiences are thrust into the luxurious, yet lonely life of Charles Foster Kane.     Citizen Kane is …
review by . February 15, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: Best movie ever? It makes its case     Cons: Ending no longer a surprise twist - EVERYONE knows it     The Bottom Line: My favorite movies are still Goodfellas, Lord of the Rings, and Raiders of the Lost Ark.     Whenever some film organization gathers up the list of the best movies ever made, Citizen Kane is the perennial chart topper. It doesn't matter what other movies are on it - Battlefield Earth could rank number 2 and Citizen …
review by . September 23, 2007
And so we come to this, the pinacle of American film making. Often cited as one of the greatest films in movie history, and one that I saw for the first time only about three years ago. Does it live up to the hype?    God, yes.    Much is made, and rightly so, about the technical inovations in this movie. There are many and they are notable. The use of zooms before zoom lenses, the use of deep-focus, the appearance of ceilings, Greg Tolland's wonderful cinematography, …
review by . December 13, 2006
This movie is very over rated and if produced today, it would seem rather humdrum. I believe that this movie is as famous and/or popular as it is because of how the film was made, rather than content itself. Allow me to explain, Orson Welles had a heck of a time bringing his vision to the screen. He faced production problems and funding issues and other thorns in the side. Once he was able to finish the film and the end product was like nothing done before, it was and is placed on a pedestal. However …
review by . August 30, 2005
posted in Movie Hype
I'm not going to weigh in on the silly debates over the merits of this film. All I will say is that I've seen it several times before in theaters with decent to mediocre prints, but I just picked up a copy of the "two-disc special edition" and the transfer is stunning. I have to say that up until I saw it on this dvd I merely "appreciated" the film as important; this time I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the compositions that look so fine on this dvd. Whether or not you like the film, this is …
review by . November 19, 2004
A few weeks ago I had the astounding honor of fulfilling one of my lifelong goals; I met Roger Ebert.    Me and my co-directing friend went to the Savannah Film festival with big cheezy grins on our faces. We were going to have a once in a lifetime opportunity to go through a shot-by-shot question and answer session with Roger Ebert. That in itself was incredible, and more than enough to keep this Alabama boy happy the rest of his days. I have spent the last decade reading his …
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Michael Neulander ()
Ranked #44
Recently graduated with a Masters in Humanities degree from Old Dominion University reading in philosophy and history. I graduated from the Univ. of Miami in 1980 with a B.A. in Political Science; specializing … more
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Citizen Kane is a 1941 American dramatic film and the first feature film directed by Orson Welles, who also co-authored the screenplay. It was released by RKO Pictures. The story is a fictionalized pastiche of the life of William Randolph Hearst and Welles' own life. Upon its release, Hearst prohibited mention of the film in any of his newspapers. The film traces the life and career of Charles Foster Kane, a man whose 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 revealed through the research of a newspaper reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate's dying word: "Rosebud."

Citizen Kane is often cited as being one of the most innovative works in the history of film. The American Film Institute placed it at number one in its list of the 100 greatest U.S. movies of all time in 1997 and again in the revised list of 2007. In a recent poll of film critics and directors conducted by the British Film Institute, Citizen Kane was ranked the number one best film of all time by both groups.

The film opens in a night setting on a vast palatial estate, on which the sign "No Trespassing" is posted. We are in Xanadu, and witness the last word spoken by enormously wealthy media magnate Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles). He utters the word "Rosebud" while holding a glass globe of a snow scene, which ...
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