Ep. 25 – Citizen Kane

Some movies are so great that you don’t even need to see them to know the twist! This week we’re cheating once again and headed toward the Criterion Laserdisc collection. Having hit our 25th weekly episode, we wanted to watch a true classic. A story of such epic proportions that no one can possibly deny it’s artistic value for the ages. So join us for what many proclaim to be the best American movie ever captured on film. No, it’s not Spaceballs (though good guess). We’re taking on Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane.

Anyone know where to find a lightly used toboggan? Just asking for a friend.

2 comments on Ep. 25 – Citizen Kane

  1. Tom M says:

    Gentlemen,

    I just listened to your Kane and Man who Fell to Earth discussions. I’ll start by saying that I love the passionate, serious, yet playful way in which you tackle these broadcasts. I’ll definitely be listening to more of your reviews. Being movie critics, I’m glad that you finally decided to actually watch Kane and replace your Simpson’s only understanding of this essential cinematic landmark. Keep on going and please do see and review Vertigo….because, as you say, there are some excellent parallels beyond their widely acknowledged greatness (especially the theme of obsession). I will say that you may have missed the point of the 2 seconds of Hitler footage. When Hitler came to power in the early 30’s as the leader of one of the largest world economies he was absolutely courted by plutocrats and elites of the international ruling class. You astutely mention Murdoch and your instincts are good here because Kane is based on media mogul Hearst. Hearst, like Kane, also met with Hitler and was somewhat soft in his paper’s early coverage of him. The news reel footage is a call-out to that fact while also positioning Kane as someone who aligns with any “ism” that advances his own ambitions. Welle’s Kane is not to be admired. If anything Kane’s rise is to be feared as this is a cautionary tale that tries to be understanding and even sympathetic of it’s complex multidimensional subject. Afterall, in addition to Hearst, it’s widely held that Kane is also patterned after Welles himself (the meteoric rise; leaving dysfunctional family for boarding school; self proclaimed prodigy). This blending of Hearst and Welles is what makes Kane as a character so compelling and ultimately not able of being massively destructive. The world was saved from a Kane presidency by his fated obsession with Susan Alexander. So no, the Hitler image was not, as you suggest, less impactful in 1941 because the extent of the Holocaust was still unknown. By this time Hitler was well established as an existential threat to the world in a way that we will never truly understand (being born well after WW2). So the imagery was meant to be somewhat shocking while also advancing the character development of Kane as a power broker of the highest order (like Hearst).

    One final parallel between Kane and Heart needs to be mentioned here because it ties back into the sled (and it’s juicy too). Like Kane, Hearst had his own Susan Alexander of sorts. This was Hollywood starlet Marion Davies. To be fair, unlike the Alexander character, Davies was big star and widely regarded as a talented comedic actress. Nonetheless, as with Kane, she was Heart’s mistress and supported her career with his influence. But the ultimate connection has to do with Heart’s not so secret nickname for Davies’ clitoris. Yup.. It’s Rosebud.

    I’m so glad that you guys appreciated this masterpiece. For me, I have bought into the hype and do consider this the best movie ever made. I guess now that it’s no longer #1 my determination is both contrarian and hip. 🙂

    1. Dr. Z says:

      Hi Tom,

      Thanks so much for the response (and I’m sorry I didn’t see it sooner)! I’ll keep working to expand my movie knowledge past Simpsons references, too!

      I also appreciate the context you’ve provided surrounding the Hitler footage aired at the beginning of the movie, and you’ve also helped me appreciate a little more of the subject, Kane, with your comparisons to Welles’ own early years. While I might not be able to call this my favorite of all time, I can certainly appreciate the level of craftsmanship and cinematography on exhibit in the film!

      And wow! I’m going to have to call my partner out for not having unearthed that Rosebud bombshell when we talk next!

      But I’m glad you liked the episodes you’ve listened to, and your feedback means a lot!

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