5.01.2007

You provide the pictures,
I'll provide the war

"Citizen Kane" ~ The once-great man amid his newspapers
The Blog loves a good newspaper movie and none is more dear to our hearts than the landmark film Citizen Kane, which debuted on this day (May 1) in 1941 at the RKO Palace in New York, from the brash 26-year-old director, writer and star, Orson Welles.

The opening followed months of battles between the wunderkind Welles and media baron William Randolph Hearst, who struggled to keep the film from being released. Welles' Charles Foster Kane, of course, is said to be patterned after Hearst himself, and the newspaper giant bristled (and even dispatched his own columnists to clamor against) such an unflattering portrait.

Welles knew exactly what he was doing, of course, in parodying Hearst, who championed the Spanish American War, had his own well-documented political career, enjoyed an affair with an actress, and built a palatial estate, Hearst Castle, near San Simeon on the California coast. Welles was making a statement.

The Blog loves that opening newsreel, a classic montage of newspaper headlines reporting Kane's death (the end that starts our story) ...
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The headline of the
New York Daily Inquirer,
a Kane paper,
appears with a portrait ...

CHARLES FOSTER KANE DIES AFTER LIFETIME OF SERVICE
Entire Nation Mourns Great Publisher as Outstanding American

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The paper is removed and other headlines, set in different type and styles from around the nation and world, come to the screen ... The first is from The Daily Chronicle, the Inquirer's competitor ...

C. F. Kane Dies at Xanadu Estate
Editor's Stormy Career Comes to an End
Death of Publisher Finds Few Who Will Mourn for Him
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The Blog delights in that opening, as we see the dozens of other newspaper headlines that come across from the biz's "yellow journalism" period, but it's another headline about Kane's life -- and, really, how many movies do you recall headlines from anyway? -- that will always endear us to this cinematic classic ...
------------------------------------------------
CANDIDATE KANE CAUGHT IN LOVE NEST WITH 'SINGER'
The Highly Moral Mr. Kane and his Tame "Songbird"
Entrapped by Wife as Love Pirate, Kane Refuses to Quit Race
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That headline refers to Kane's affair with lounge singer Susan Alexander (the wonderful Dorothy Comingore), who suffers debilitating defeat as an opera star because Kane "was always trying to take the quotes off 'singer' " ... and the process shows Kane's outsize vanity in full effect. What a ride.

So if you're not otherwise occupied tonight, The Blog suggests a viewing of this newspaper classic, which the American Film Institute calls The Greatest American Movie of All Time. "Kane" is full of filmmaking innovations, great dialogue, inspired acting and an eerily resonant caution on newspapering, the dangers of powers and the perils of ego. Good ol' Charlie Kane.

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