Friday, July 8, 2016

AFI Top 100, #1: "Citizen Kane" (1941)

Movie Stats:
Released 1941 (USA)
American, in English
Director - Orson Welles
Stars - Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton, Everett Sloane, Dorothy Comingore

Plot Summary:
Upon the death of famous publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane (Welles), a journalist tries to discover the meaning of Kane’s last word, “Rosebud.” Cotton co-stars as Kane’s friend/business partner, Jedediah Leland; Sloane as his employee, Mr. Bernstein; and Comingore as his second wife, Susan Alexander.

Minor violence.

Bad Stuff:
I was bored to tears.

One of the final exchanges of the film sums it up rather nicely for me (paraphrased because I can’t find the actual quote): “So what did you learn about him [Kane]?” “Nothing much.” For a guy who had boatloads of money, his life was pretty ordinary. Rich guy has everything, loses everything. It’s a story that’s been told since the dawn of time.

I did not like the loud, confusing, extensive newsreel scene toward the beginning of the film. It really put me off and made it difficult for me to get into the rest of it.

Good Stuff:
Welles, Cotton, and Sloane were all great, especially Welles. He’s dynamic to watch.

The make-up work to age the actors was very good.

The Verdict:
If you can believe it, I’d never seen this before. However, since it’s 75 years old, I knew pretty much the whole plot (including who/what “Rosebud” is) beforehand. Would I have liked it better if I hadn’t known that? Perhaps. If I had spent the whole movie trying to figure it out along with the journalist (Thompson, played by William Alland), I could see where the mystery would be engaging. But that’s not how things went, and as it was, I can’t say that I was particularly impressed. As a slowly unfolding story about a deeply flawed man, it was decently done, but I didn’t find the man that it revealed either interesting or compelling.

I give it 2.75 stars.


Patricia said...

True story: the first (and only) time I watched this was with a college roommate I didn't much like. We're about 10 minutes in and he says, "Rosebud is [the thing that it is]!" Aaaaaaannnd thanks, dude. You just totally destroyed the mystery for me. I was so annoyed. He told me after the movie was over that he remembered it because of a Scooby-Doo episode.

Eyeroll. I mean, I might have eventually remembered that Scooby-Doo episode too, but at that point I had no idea.

Patricia said...

Good job completeing this project! Will there be a "final thoughts"-type post before you launch your next one?

balyien said...

Omigosh, that Scooby Doo episode is where I first learned it too! Hahaha.

I was talking to some friends about this movie and saying how it's hard not to be spoiled on the mystery and they all had this look on their faces that made it clear that they didn't know. So I guess there are other people out there who don't remember the Scooby Doo episode! Luckily, I'm a nice person who doesn't just blurt out spoilers, so if they ever want to see this movie, they can still go in fresh. :)

You've already seen the master list. I'll post some final reflections in the comments there.