Cast: Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore.
Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) utters the word ‘Rosebud’ with his final breath and the film deals with the attempts of friends and acquaintances to unravel the meaning of it via flashbacks of his life.
Regarded by many as the best film ever made and highly ranked in most film critics top ranked film lists, it is all the more remarkable when you consider that Citizen Kane was co-wrote, directed and starred in by 25 year old Orson Welles. The praise is deserved for many reasons, the main one being the innovative cinematography (Welles fitted cameras in the floorboards to get the right angled shots.)
As we dwell on the dying lonely man’s words we are transported into his life as a successful newspaper publisher, who built up his empire from humble beginnings to become one of America’s most powerful businessmen. However he learns that success and happiness doesn’t always go hand in hand and this soon becomes apparent as Kane begins to lose the power he has become accustomed to and his empire begins to crumble.
The film is said to have been based on real-life newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. This was never proven although Randolph wasn’t best pleased with this film. Welles was clever enough to amalgamate several traits of different well-known paper men which made it impossible to prove the film was about Hearst.
So what of Rosebud? The secret behind the word is revealed right at the end and after so much searching during the film, it is somewhat of a surprise.
Our Citizen Kane ephemera:
Original 1966 Italian locandina
Citizen Kane, Original Polish Poster, Time Magazine art of Orson Welles ’87