Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The True Story of Orson Welles and `Citizen Kane'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

The True Story of Orson Welles and `Citizen Kane'

Article excerpt

* Ridley Scott to make a movie about Orson Welles, his legendary film and his row with William Randolph Hearst

`CITIZEN KANE" is regularly voted the greatest film ever, and Orson Welles, who wrote, directed and starred in it, became a legend. Now the true story of "Citizen Kane" is to be told in a film by director Ridley Scott. The subject of Scott's movie will be the row between Welles, a precocious 25-year-old when he made "Citizen Kane," and William Randolph Hearst, the newspaper magnate who provided the model for its hero.

"The film will explore the issue of art versus commerce," says Scott. "It was `Citizen Kane' and Welles who got me interested in getting into the film industry, though, sadly, I never met him." Welles created Charles Foster Kane in the image of Hearst, though there are also elements of his own buccaneering personality in the character. Hearst objected vehemently when he learned the script portrayed him as a "megolomaniac with no human compassion." He used his lawyers and his influential film columnist, Louella Parsons, to try to block the movie. Welles had to address nervous RKO shareholders to perusade them to do the the project. When "Citizen Kane" was made, Hearst tried to stop it from being distributed and finally attempted to buy the negative to destroy it. Both Scott and his screenwriter, John Logan, feel that Hearst came off rather badly as Kane, despite his many faults. "It might look foolish trying to do a `Citizen Kane,' but this is not a remake, which would be madness, but the real Welles and Hearst," said Scott, best known for "Blade Runner," "Alien" and "Thelma & Louise." "Hearst was very hurt by the way he was shown treating his wife and his mistress, the singer Susan Alexander, who was based on the real love of his life, Marion Davies," says Logan. "He was most upset with the portrayal of Susan as a failed, drunken singer. Marion Davies did have drinking problems later on in her career, but she had been a successful Hollywood actress." Welles' co-writer, Herman Mankiewicz, was keen to show Alexander in a negative light. "It was Mank's revenge on Davies and Hearst after he was thrown out of the regular Hollywood crowd who used to spend weekends at San Simeon," says Welles' biographer, Simon Callow. San Simeon was the castle Hearst built on the Pacific coast 200 miles north of Los Angeles. In "Citizen Kane" it was portrayed as Xanadu, a coldly inhospitable home with an exterior like the castle in "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.