Trivia / Citizen Kane

Trivia tropes

  • Acclaimed Flop: Hard to believe, but the "Greatest Film of All Time" was a box office failure for its time. Eventually it made a profit in repertory screenings and Welles lived off its royalties even when he was down and out in Europe.
  • Actor Allusion: Kane knows plenty of magic tricks that amuse Susan. Orson Welles himself was an amateur magician.
  • AFI's 100 Years... Series:
  • Breakthrough Hit: For Orson Welles. Also for Bernard Herrmann, who had been a music composer for the Mercury Theater, went to Hollywood along with Welles and the actors, composed the music to Citizen Kane as his very first film score, and went on to become one of the most successful film composers in movie history.
  • Common Knowledge:
    • People assume Marion Davies had a bad career, as her expy in the film shows. In fact, Marion Davies was widely considered a talented actress and comedienne, independent of all the publicity Hearst arranged for her. Hearst did push Davies towards melodramatic leading-lady roles, despite performing better in light comedy. Ironically, Welles and Mankiewicz claimed that they made Susan so talentless to ensure she wasn't confused with Marion Davies. Instead, the opposite happened.
    • Likewise, everyone feels that this film was a satire on Hearst and Hearst alone. In truth, the film was intended to be a general satire and tragedy of The American Dream and the resemblances to Hearst came about largely because screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz was a regular at Hearst's parties and knew him well. Both he and Welles included details from several American tycoons like Samuel Insull and Howard Hughes in addition to Hearst. Likewise, Welles himself never intended the film to be a Take That! on Hearst, indeed the drafts of the screenplay credited to him show that it was Welles who made Kane more sympathetic and that the original screenplay was a good deal more anti-Hearst.
    • Everyone from Pauline Kael to Cracked claims that no one actually heard Kane's last words, therefore the whole "Rosebud" mystery is a plot hole. In reality, Raymond the Butler tells the journalist that he was present during Kane's death, so presumably he heard "Rosebud" himself.
    • There's also Kael's claim that Herman Mankiewicz wrote the entire script himself, and that Welles unfairly took credit. Despite being thoroughly debunked by Robert L. Carringer, Peter Bogdanovich and others, this argument's still repeated by credulous film buffs.
    • Likewise, many, see the Hearst controversy as really ending Welles' career and see the film's bad reception as single-handedly stifling a great talent a la Tall Poppy Syndrome. The truth is that Citizen Kane, while criticized and seen as attracting unwanted attention from a powerful man, was a highly respected production in Hollywood at the time. Yes it was booed at the Oscars, but it was also nominated for the awards, and Welles won an Oscar (with Mankiewicz) for his screenplay. The film was admired for its technical brilliance and Welles had enough admirers to balance out others who disliked him. It was The Magnificent Ambersons that truly tarnished his reputation, since unlike Kane (which had a smooth, competent production), Ambersons was a famous mess and more or less made sure that Welles would never have Auteur License again.
  • Completely Different Title: In Hungary, the film was called Aranypolgár ("The Golden Citizen")
  • Copiously Credited Creator: Co-written, directed, produced and starring Welles.
  • Creator Backlash: To a marginal extent. While Welles never regretted or hated the film, much like Alan Moore and Watchmen he did regret how it overshadowed his entire career. He stated that he found the film too gimmicky and not mature, and he regretted how Marion Davies was wrongfully associated with the film. Despite this, he stated in interviews that Kane is the only film of his with which he is entirely satisfied in that it came out exactly as he wished with no budget constraints and no Executive Meddling, though personally he preferred The Trial and Chimes at Midnight.
    Orson Welles: I've regretted early successes in many fields, but I don't regret that in Kane because it was the only chance of that kind I ever had. I'm glad I had it at any time in my life. I wish I had it more often. I wish I had a chance like that every year, there'd be eighteen pictures.
  • Dueling Movies: For a long time, Citizen Kane competed for #1 on a film list with Jean Renoir's The Rules of the Game. The 2012 list saw it finally replaced from Sight and Sound's Best Film List. The critics list placed Vertigo ahead of it, while the directors list placed Tokyo Story ahead of it.
  • DVD Commentary: Roger Ebert contributes an excellent, in-depth commentary notable for the breakdown of cinematography, shot design, and other interesting tidbits.
  • Dyeing for Your Art: To simulate heavy drunkenness, Joseph Cotten stayed awake for 24 straight hours, resulting in some unscripted flubbery (that caused Welles to grin despite himself).
  • Enforced Method Acting: Poor Dorothy Comingore endured physical and mental abuse from Orson Welles and ended up a near wreck by the end.
  • From Entertainment To Education: Citizen Kane is often used to teach cinematography, and as a master work in storytelling and narrative form, and pretty much defined cinema as an artist's medium, with all its different visual and audio techniques used cohesively to tell a complex story.
  • Magnum Opus Dissonance: Orson Welles saw Chimes at Midnight as his masterpiece, but that was also driven by people using Citizen Kane to write him off as a One-Book Author, he was generally proud of Kane and stated that it was his only movie that he's totally satisfied with, having no budget or executive compromises as he did on his other films.
  • Method Acting:
    • To simulate being drunk, Joseph Cotten remained awake for 24 straight hours. You can see Welles break character and grin when Cotten flubs his line and says "dramatic crimiticism." Of course, it was a Throw It In moment.
    • Orson Welles himself let himself go during the famous room trashing sequence, even hurting himself badly bloodying his hands while doing it. After filming the scene, Welles breathed, "I felt it. I felt it."
  • One Steve Limit: Averted. The film has characters named Jim Gettys and Jim Kane.
  • Star-Making Role: Kane was a Star Making Role to some extent for most of the cast, since the bulk of them were members of Orson Welles' Mercury Theater troupe and they were all making their film debuts together.
    • Joseph Cotten went on to a long and very successful career as a leading man and character actor in Hollywood.
    • Ray Collins (Jim Gettys) enjoyed a prolific career as a Hollywood character actor.
    • Welles himself is an interesting aversion. An acknowledged child genius, he was a theatrical star since age 16, and became famous for his theatre and radio. He had in fact made three films prior to this (a bizarre short in 1934, a 40-minute film that was intended to be part of a hybrid stage play/movie performance in 1938, and he narrated a version of Swiss Family Robinson a year before Kane came out). As an actor, Welles came to be in demand for playing sinister anti-hero/villains and specialized in One-Scene Wonder but as a director he struggled to find funding for his works. As such Welles found greater demand as an actor than as a director.
    • Sadly averted for Dorothy Comingore, who delivered a powerful performance as Susan Alexander but saw her career derailed by alcoholism and poor decision-making even before it was permanently ended when she was put on the Hollywood blacklist.
  • Streisand Effect: Most people today, outside of specialists in mass media, know Hearst largely for his association with this film. Ironically, at the time, Hearst somewhat aware of this trope as a result of his yellow journalism origins, tried to avoid it by refusing to mention the film: rather than rail against it or say that it was terrible, Hearst ordered his newspapers to not mention it at all. This is thought to be a primary reason for its failure, that and bribing distributors not to play it in many theatres.
    • In the long-run, Hearst's persecution of Welles and sabotage of the film's release permanently linked him with Kane, to the extent that a biography of his life is titled "Citizen Hearst", and Kane's satirical depiction of Hearst as this controlling frustrated politician became how people remember Hearst. Most biographers argue that Hearst was not really as much of a Byronic Hero as Kane is, nor such a Bastard Boyfriend, likewise, Hearst's good deeds such as his championing of George Herriman's Krazy Kat and other comics artists is forgotten in favor of his association with the Yellow Press.
    • Samuel Fuller who worked with the Hearst Press in his youth and later became a film-maker (and who also admired Welles) noted that the real Hearst was not like Kane at all, arguing that Hearst was neither as personally aloof or a Control Freak. Even Welles scholar Jonathan Rosenbaum noted that Xanadu was a Shallow Parody of Hearst's estate San Simeon. He noted upon visiting San Simeon that contrary to the extravagant, gaudy and tacky Xanadu, San Simeon is actually reflective of good aesthetic taste. Incidentally, in 2012, Hearst's descendants actually screened Kane at San Simeon in part to posthumously bury the hatchet, but also to highlight to visitors how different San Simeon was from Xanadu.
    • Welles for his part regretted the damage the film may have done to Marion Davies' reputation since he greatly admired her work in King Vidor's classic Show People. He also said that he intended Kane to be a larger-than-life media tycoon figure rather than based solely on Hearst, who he did not have any personal grudge against.
  • Throw It In: Joseph Cotten stumbling over the word "criticism". It was a genuine flub, but fortunately both he and Welles stayed in character (albeit Welles grins) and Cotten follows up with a brilliant ad-lib "I AM drunk", so it stayed in the film as-is.
  • What Could Have Been
    • Originally, the movie was going to be based on the life of Howard Hughes with Cotten in the lead. Eventually, Welles realized nobody would believe most of the stuff Hughes had done, so he decided to make Kane a media baron instead.
    • Towards the end of his life, Welles was asked to provide a commentary for the film. He declined, as he was done talking about it.
    • Welles was originally going to make an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness but the executives didn't believe they could possibly stretch a budget far enough to cover it, so he made Kane instead.
  • Working Title: The American, John Citizen, U. S. A.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Trivia/CitizenKane