It’s 77 years since one of the greatest American films ever made was screened for the first time in New York. Orson Welles’ mystery drama ‘Citizen Kane’ is still considered by many to be the best movie to ever come out of Hollywood due to it’s creative expression and artistic innovation.
It was the movie to set new standards in the film making business and is the reason why it is regarded so highly nearly eight decades on from its release. Here are 10 things you may not have known about arguably the greatest movie ever made:
Orson Welles was just 25 when he co-wrote, starred in, produced and directed the film, his first feature.
The movie’s protagonist, Charles Foster Kane, was inspired by newspaper publisher William Randolph Hearst. Co-writer, Herman J. Mankiewicz, created Kane’s dialogue using lines from Hearst’s own writing and speeches.
As a result, Hearst was angered by the film and even went to some length to stop it being released. He accused Welles of being a communist, which at the time was enough of a label to tarnish anyone’s reputation in Hollywood and even prompt Government investigation.
Kane’s estate int he movie, Xanadu, was based on Hearst castle, Hearst’s extravagant mansion in San Simeon, California.
In 2015, 74 years after its release, the movie screened at Heart Castle for the very first time. The benefit screening consisted of 60 attendees, with tickets costing $1,000 each.
Considered the best movie of all time, Citizen Kane only won a single Academy Awards: Best Screenplay, despite being nominated for nine in total.
Welles was injured twice during the filming of the movie. Starring as Kane himself, Welles badly cut his left hand during a scene in which he is trashing a room. He also suffered a chipped ankle after tripping whilst filming a dramatic scene where he chases his rivals down some stairs. He was forced to reschedule some of his scenes and direct from a wheelchair for two weeks.
The cinematography was revolutionary. Welles, along with cinematographer Gregg Toland, perfected the technique of “deep focus,” keeping every object in the foreground, centre and background in simultaneous focus.
In 1982, one of the “Rosebud” sleds from the film was put up for auction at Sotheby’s in New York City. The buyer was director Steven Spielberg. Though some of the “Rosebud” sleds were burned during production as part of the final scene, it’s still unclear if Spielberg’s copy is the only one remaining.
Welles gave himself caffeine poisoning during production. He drank a reported 30 cups of coffee per day and switched to tea but he ended up drinking so much that his skin began to change colour. He also would eat meals consisting of three large steaks and sides.