The Greatest? No. But it's still pretty damn Great.
I get it if you don't particularly care for Citizen Kane. It's an odd film, whether you're judging it by the standards of modern or classic movies. The cinematography, the dialogue delivery, the scope of the film have held up well, though at times it feels distinct from other films of its time. I guess what I'm trying to say is, it's a film of it's time, but simultaneously not of its time. Plus, it is an EPIC film of EPIC proportions, and the grandiosity that comes with that is not for everybody.
The cinematography and sets are gorgeous. In particular, shots of the Great Hall of Xanadu come to mind. I could not believe that it was one soundstage, it seemed so HUGE. Truly, this is a film that never would have worked had it been in color.
Despite the epic sweep of the film, it's the performances of the actors that draw you in. Unlike in a lot of biopics, or in this case, psuedo-biopic films, none of the characters are one-note. Orson Welles is fantastic as Kane, going from an idealistic, audacious young man to an embittered, lonely jerk. Dorothy Comingore is riveting as his second wife, who starts out under his thumb and gradually becomes strong enough to defy him by leaving him. Joseph Cotten is funny and smart as Leland, Kane's best friend.
The reviewer below castigates the film because Kane is unlikable. Well, that's sort of the point: he's meant to be an example of what happens when you pursue power and glory at the expense of all else, and what happens when you expect love but are unwilling to give it. Just because he's unlikable doesn't make him less compelling. Also, yes, the film tells you ahead of time what the plot is, but that's not a bad thing. In this film, it's not the destination that's important, it's how we, or in the film, Kane, get there. It's a character study: the plot's not the important part.
Admittedly, the film isn't perfect. It's a little too grand at times for a story that ultimately goes nowhere, but it is still a fascinating character study that is stylishly shot. It might not be the greatest film ever made, but it's certainly one of the greats.