RKO 281 (1999)


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Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

When RKO Pictures began work on production number 281, no one could have imagined that they were making perhaps the greatest American film of all time. But the moment Orson Welles (played by Liev Schreiber) announced that he intended to make a film based on the life of tyranical multi-millionaire publisher William Randolph Hearst (James Cromwell), they knew that they had trouble on their hands. Welles, the enfant terrible of American theater and a household name thanks to his infamous radio … More

Rating: R (adult situations/language)
Genre: Documentary, Drama
Directed By:
Written By: John Logan
In Theaters:
On DVD: Apr 25, 2000
HBO Video



as Orson Welles

as William Randolph Hea...

as Herman Mankiewicz

as George Schaefer

as Marion Davies

as Louis B. Mayer

as Louella Parsons

as Joe Willicombe

as Gregg Toland

as Hedda Hopper

as Carole Lombard

as Dolores Del Rio

as Walt Disney

as John Houseman

as Bernard Herrmann

as Jack Warner

as David O. Selznick

as Harry Cohn

as Darryl F. Zanuck
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for RKO 281

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Critic Reviews for RKO 281

All Critics (15) | Top Critics (1)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

This hardly seen film is a great watch for ANY Welles fan.

April 8, 2005
Blunt Review

entertaining; Schreiber is excellent

March 11, 2005
Kalamazoo Gazette

Wonderful TV movie about the pressures and ego clashes and politics surrounding the making of Citizen Kane.

October 19, 2004
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

High-pulp look at Citizen Kane's genesis is stylish but shallow.

Full Review… | November 7, 2002

Excellent. Liev Schreiber IS Orson Welles.

August 9, 2002
Fantastica Daily

Audience Reviews for RKO 281


Having watched this directly after first experiencing Citizen Kane, I found RKO to be insightful, informative, and rewarding. Liev Schreiber was great as Orson Wells, as was John Malkovich. The film had its limitations, it was only focused on the creation of, and aftermath of, Citizen Kane; I wish it had been more expansive in its look at Welles. The depiction of Hearst also felt inadequate, but it was passable considering the short running time. That said, what time the film did spend on both characters was effective. Overall a good film, and definitely a good companion piece to Citizen Kane.

3.5/5 Stars

Jeffrey Meyers
Jeffrey Meyers

Super Reviewer

Another great HBO independent film.

Sean Gillespie

Super Reviewer

I am an Orson Welles fan, so I found it really interesting.

Marion Ravenwood

Super Reviewer

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