19. “Citizen Kane”, Orson Welles (1941)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.

Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane

dir. Orson Welles scr. Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles cin. Gregg Toland with Orson Welles, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloane, Ray Collins, George Coulouris, Agnes Moorehead, Paul Stewart, Ruth Warrick, Erskine Sanford, William Alland

In 100 words: How do you live up to being called the greatest movie ever by a great many film lovers? By simply being that. Welles’ genius practically invented cinematic grammar: his shadows, his deep focus shots, his incredible sense of editing for clarity and for thrills, and his sense of scale. Kane is an astonishing story of a man’s hubris, improved by Welles’ mythization of his character through frequently dazzling images, audacious edits, virtuous performances. In other words, it lives up to the hype and then some—people forget how fun to watch this is and repeat viewings only magnify its brilliance.

Other Movies for Context: Orson Welles is an incredible director with a body of work that constantly pushes the boundaries of cinema. The Magnificent Ambersons (1942), a film that despite the studio surgeries, is pretty spectacular, The Lady from Shanghai (1947) suffered from doing too much, but that last shootout scene is fantastic. Touch of Evil (1958) comes closest to Kane in terms of sheer genius, opening with the most impressive tracking shot EVER. I couldn’t get into Chimes at Midnight (1965) but the fight scenes are ahead of their time. F for Fake (1974) isn’t my cuppa either. Regardless, he is one of the most important directors in cinema, so mandatory viewing.

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