Whenever there are lists compiled of the greatest movies of all time, there is one name that is simply inescapable. Since its release in 1941, Citizen Kane has become one of the most revered and celebrated movies in Hollywood history. All art is subjective, of course, it is, but it’s clear that Citizen Kane has something that little bit special that helps elevate it above other movies.
This classic film is one we love to revisit time and again, and, if it’s on TV over the festive period, we definitely recommend sitting down to watch it. But, in the meantime, let’s find out a little bit more about the film, and its creator Orson Welles. Here are some of the things you never knew about Citizen Kane (but always wanted to).
Orson Welles had full creative control
It’s unusual for writers and directors to be given full creative control over projects – unless it’s someone like Steven Spielberg or Quentin Tarantino. Welles came to Hollywood with unprecedented theater experience, but was a novice in terms of filmmaking. In fact, the fact that Citizen Kane was his first movie meant the decision to give him full creative control was even more startling. Still, RKO, the studio who granted Welles the control to make the movie, must have been very happy with the decision in the end.
Authorship of the script is disputed
It’s one of the most famous scripts in movie history, but, who wrote Citizen Kane is one of the most disputed cases ever. Both Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz won Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay, but it’s unclear how much of the script was written by each. There have been disputes over the years based on contracts signed by Mankiewicz and Welles, and, in the end, both men agreed to share credit.
Stagecoach was the inspiration
All of the great filmmakers throughout history have taken their inspiration from other great movies. In the case of Welles and Citizen Kane, the defining moment came when the director watched the John Ford movie Stagecoach. When he wanted to transition from theater to cinema, he claimed he watched a different film reach month, dissecting it, and learning the craft. Stagecoach, and Ford, in particular, were massive influences. He is once quoted in an interview as saying he learned from ‘the great masters of cinema, John Ford, John Ford, and John Ford.’
It was visually groundbreaking
Cinematographers are the true unsung heroes of a movie’s production, and Citizen Kane was no different. The cinematography in this movie was groundbreaking and did things no movie had done before at that time. Gregg Toland, the innovative cinematographer behind the film’s amazing look, had grown weary of working with the same sorts of people all the time and saw Welles’ inexperience as a positive. It proved to be a match made in heaven, as the two men created a masterpiece.
Citizen Kane is rightly revered in the movie world, and many critics and fans have rated it as the greatest ever film. While we don’t agree with that, it’s pretty clear that the movie was revolutionary, and one of the most influential films of all time. These are some of the awesome things you never knew about the film, and we hope they will increase your enjoyment when watching it.