YMMV: Citizen Kane

  • Award Snub: The film losing the Academy Award for Best Picture to How Green Was My Valley, which is arguably considered the most iconic instance of this. The only Oscar it took home that year was for Best Original Screenplay (the only competitive Oscar which Orson Welles won, which he shared with Herman Mankiewicz), not even winning awards for Art Direction or Cinematography. Plus, the film was roundly booed when its nomination was announced.
  • Awesome Music: The score by Bernard Herrmann. Special mentions goes to the ending scene where the soundtrack booms ominously when we see the smoke of the Rosebud sled rise out of Xanadu's chimney.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The shrieking cockatoo. To date, it's still unknown whether it was meant to be symbolic of Kane's world shattering around him, or if it was just throw in to scare the piss out of the audience. Either way, it came out of nowhere and disappeared just as swiftly.
    • Not really. The scream preceeds Wells trashing Susan's room.
      His memory of Susan's departure is parodied by a jolting cut to a screeching white cockatoo flapping off the balcony at Xanadu - a visually startling image. Psychologically shocked by her exit and regressing into an uncontrollable, childlike tantrum, Kane in a robot-like posture violently tears her room apart in a rage.
    • There's also another instance with a woman screaming outside Kane's tent while Susan argues with him. There's a motif there.
    • Welles supposedly once claimed it was in case anyone had fallen asleep. It's up in the air how serious he was.
  • Crazy Awesome: Young Kane. His method of revitalising a failing newspaper is to move into the editor's office so that he'll always be close when news happens. It works spectacularly.
  • Fair for Its Day: Mr. Bernstein is an obvious Jewish visual stereotype superficially, but he notably far less materialistic than Kane.
    Mr. Bernstein: It's no trick to make a big pile of money, if all you want is just a big pile of money.
  • Fandom Heresy/Sacred Cow: The quickest way a critic or film school teacher can kill their street cred is to trash this film.
    • Bear in mind that the film itself was an Acclaimed Flop in its day and it only became Vindicated by History in the 50s and 70s, so if Kane has that reputation, it took a while to get there and did undergo "the test of time".
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: Kane states he's going to the Western Manhattan Warehouse in NJ to look through his old stuff from his boyhood (his sled, presumably). During restoration efforts, a lone 35mm master negative and soundtrack of Orson Welles' The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice (1952), long thought to have been destroyed, was found at the Western Manhattan Warehouse. Ironically, Welles' version of Othello also had the main character Dead to Begin With and an investigation into his death in flashback - just like Kane.
  • Hype Backlash: Big time. When you have people always boasting about this movie and its reputation—to say nothing of practically every single list calling it The Greatest Movie Of All Time—this will be inevitable.
  • It Was His Sled: Partially due to this being the Trope Namer.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Kane winds up more pitiful than pitiable.
  • Memetic Mutation: The Slow Clap seen in this film is infamous on the Internet.
  • Narm: "Don't you know who I am? CHAAAAAAAAAAAAARLES FOSTER KANE!"
    • Most of Orson Welles's performance as Older Kane is pretty Narmy, deliberately so as Welles noted to Bogdanovich since Kane had become a caricature of his former self at the time.
    • "Good morning." "I'm drunk."
  • Nightmare Fuel: The shrieking cockatoo. Especially considering how abruptly it happens. See NightmareFuel.Citizen Kane for more information.
  • One-Scene Wonder: Portraying Kane's mother, Agnes Moorehead proved her potential as a movie actress through only a few minutes of screentime and dialogue.
  • Seinfeld Is Unfunny: Those who don't hold the movie on a pedestal tend to go in this direction instead.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • Very few, but one background features a pterodactyl, because it was Stock Footage from The Son Of Kong.
    • One shot of the camera apparently passing straight through a table was done by cutting the table in half, then pulling it apart and quickly shoving it back together. Unfortunately, they couldn't avoid showing a hat on the table jiggling afterwards.
    • The infamous cockatoo's see-through eye.
    • Also the obviously fake octopus that appears during the opening newsreel. Apparently it was cribbed from an old Fu Manchu serial.
  • Streisand Effect: Most people today, outside of specialists in mass media, know Hearst largely for his association with this film.
    • Hearst's persecution of Welles and sabotage of this film permanently linked him with the film. A biography of Hearst is even called "Citizen Hearst". They all note that this backfired spectacularly on Hearst since the film's caricature of Hearst as this controlling frustrated politician became how people see him, which most biographers note is inaccurate. Likewise his 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, which is what the film portrays.
    • Samuel Fuller who worked with the Hearst Press in his youth and later became a film-maker (and who also admired Welles) him noted that the real Hearst was not like Kane at all. Even Welles scholar, Jonathan Rosenbaum noted that the film's parody of Hearst's estate San Simeon via Xanadu is false, since the real house San Simeon is not extravagant and gaudy like the film implies it is but actually tasteful and reflective of good aesthetic taste.
    • 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.
  • Vindicated by History: Probably the greatest example of this. William Randolph Hearst essentially got Orson Welles stonewalled in Hollywood after the release of Citizen Kane. It barely made a cent at the box office and actually got booed out of the building every time it was mentioned during that year's Academy Awards. Years down the road, Citizen Kane would go on to be considered one of the greatest and most influential films ever made.