Citizen Kane

1941, Drama, 1h 59m

117 Reviews 100,000+ Ratings

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critics consensus

Orson Welles's epic tale of a publishing tycoon's rise and fall is entertaining, poignant, and inventive in its storytelling, earning its reputation as a landmark achievement in film. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

When a reporter is assigned to decipher newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane's (Orson Welles) dying words, his investigation gradually reveals the fascinating portrait of a complex man who rose from obscurity to staggering heights. Though Kane's friend and colleague Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten), and his mistress, Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore), shed fragments of light on Kane's life, the reporter fears he may never penetrate the mystery of the elusive man's final word, "Rosebud."

Cast & Crew

Orson Welles
Charles Foster Kane
Joseph Cotten
Jedediah Leland, Newsreel Reporter
Ruth Warrick
Emily Norton Kane
Agnes Moorehead
Mrs. Mary Kane
Dorothy Comingore
Susan Alexander
Ray Collins
Boss James "Jim" W. Gettys
George Coulouris
Walter Parks Thatcher
William Alland
Jerry Thompson, "News on the March" Narrator
Erskine Sanford
Herbert Carter, Newsreel Reporter
Bernard Herrmann
Original Music
Gregg Toland
Cinematographer
Robert Wise
Film Editor
Perry Ferguson
Associate Art Direction
Darrell Silvera
Set Decoration
Edward Stevenson
Costume Designer
Maurice Seiderman
Makeup Artist
Russell A. Cully
Special Effects
Vernon L. Walker
Special Effects
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News & Interviews for Citizen Kane

Critic Reviews for Citizen Kane

All Critics (117) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (116) | Rotten (1)

  • We aren't going to quibble about the genius business. Time will take care of that and if Welles goes down in history as one well be happy to have been among those who enjoyed the results of his great talent.

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • The sheer brilliance and audacity of Citizen Kane... make the film the most astounding cinematic achievement of the season. It ranks with Disney's Fantasia as a milestone in motion picture technique.

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • [It] is my opinion that Mr. Welles has been sympathetic and kind. He reveals great respect for people, and a knowledge of their powers and talents.

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • This first screen effort of Orson Welles is of such vast difference to other pictures, in subject material, in treatment, in technique, in cast and in performance that the best advice perhaps is, "See what you think."

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • I would say it is a great picture but... It is one of those things, like the Pyramids, which are impressive and definitely interesting to have seen, but one can have more fun than looking at the Pyramids.

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • In [Citizen Kane] Welles is revealed as having absorbed a tremendous amount of the tricks and tradition of the theater, and still more, that he possesses the skill and craftsmanship to adapt such knowledge to motion pictures in a masterful way.

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • We aren't going to quibble about the genius business. Time will take care of that and if Welles goes down in history as one well be happy to have been among those who enjoyed the results of his great talent.

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • The sheer brilliance and audacity of Citizen Kane... make the film the most astounding cinematic achievement of the season. It ranks with Disney's Fantasia as a milestone in motion picture technique.

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • [It] is my opinion that Mr. Welles has been sympathetic and kind. He reveals great respect for people, and a knowledge of their powers and talents.

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • This first screen effort of Orson Welles is of such vast difference to other pictures, in subject material, in treatment, in technique, in cast and in performance that the best advice perhaps is, "See what you think."

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…
  • I particularly like the structure of the film, especially the use of the news reel footage and the newspaper headlines to move the plot forward.

    March 24, 2021 | Full Review…
  • Citizen Kane Is a triumph not only for Orson Welles, but for his entire company as well.

    March 2, 2021 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Citizen Kane

  • Dec 08, 2020
    I have to preface this review with the fact that I have a major personality flaw in that I am not a big fan of the golden age of cinema or black and white movies in general (The Lighthouse being a big exception). But I am a big fan of David Fincher so before I watched Mank I thought I should watch Citizen Kane, called by many the best movie of all time. What struck me from the beginning scenes were the attention to detail and technical prowess on display. No opening credits, the slowly panning shots, the use of closeups, reflections and shadows, the newsreel exposition, the rat-a-tat dialogue, and ultimately the nonlinear storytelling. I don't know if this was innovative at the time but it was captivating and struck me as unique. It lost steam at the end when it rushed through his two wives and final years, but man, the final reveal about who/what "Rosebud" was absolutely fantastic!
    Mark B Super Reviewer
  • Oct 09, 2018
    In this film we see the arc of a wealthy man's life from childhood memories to his aspirations after college, from wielding power in the middle of life to an end that, amidst vast wealth and opulence, simply looks back on childhood, and then goes up in smoke. Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) may have been based on William Randolph Hearst and the film a critique of the 'rich and powerful', but there are elements it that are also universal. It takes a piercing look into how people change over time, how power corrupts, and how all life is transient. Kane may have all of the benefits that money brings, but he's also a little broken inside, with perhaps a narcissistic or attachment disorder stemming from having been given up for adoption by his own biological parents when he was a boy (and that, in turn, hinted as being due to his father's abuse). He therefore has no real friends, or true love. He positions himself as a 'man of the people', but he's aloof and above them from all, using them to amplify his own power. He may collect all of the statues he can find in Europe for his castle in America, but ultimately dies like anyone else, without any real meaning, and his possessions disbursed. It's fascinating to watch Kane evolve over the film. His days as a young man are full of hubris and the desire to run a newspaper, mainly to push social messages. While he also has a knack for increasing circulation via sensationalism, he's also pure enough to pen a 'Declaration of Principles' that promises to publish truth, free of special interests. In a fantastic exchange, his friend Jedediah (Joseph Cotten) points out that his first two sentences have started with the word "I", and as we'll see, the 'special interest group' that Kane sells out to is Kane himself. He gradually morphs to begin abusing the power he has as a publisher, swaying opinions on war, and flat out saying that the people will think what he tells them to think. Kane's relationships also evolve in interesting ways. Early on he seems so close with Jedediah, jovial and dancing at office parties, but he fires him without thinking twice about it when Jedediah dares to publish the truth in a review of his second wife's awful performance at the opera. In a parallel way, we see this second wife (Dorothy Comingore) go from a humble, nice, and honest woman he meets on the street one night to a spoiled and vindictive wife, then bitter alcoholic. She speaks about Kane over a drink in a two-bit club, and Jedediah speaks about him from an assisted living facility. The film has a rather dark view of the endgame that awaits us all. The transience of life is further emphasized by little moments in the supporting cast, such as Bernstein (Everett Sloane) saying of his own life these fantastic lines: "A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl." Orson Welles is excellent as both actor and director, and the way the story is told, via flashbacks from multiple perspectives and short jumps in time, is compelling. He also utilizes a number of innovative and interesting visual techniques that feel modern. If you're looking for a film with an uplifting message, one with action, or one that will leave you feeling warm, this is not your film. On the other hand, there is such honesty here about power and about life, the filmmaking is fantastic, and it has an ending that is absolutely devastating, in those plumes of smoke going up into the night sky.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Jun 25, 2016
    Orson Welles appeared on-screen in this, wrote and directed the film when he was quite young, about 24 and a half. His first feature becomes a landmark of a masterpiece for the last 75 years ago. There must be a 75th Anniversary re-release of this film.
    Film C Super Reviewer
  • Jun 20, 2016
    I watched this movie for the first time at 23 years old after hearing how it was a work of cinematic art. After watching, I thoroughly agree. Some of the shots in this movie are amazing and awe-inspiring. Knowing the end of the movie does take away from some of the movie in ways, but it also adds to the futility of the search. Truly a classic, nothing else needs to be said.
    Hayden B Super Reviewer

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