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This film's end credits begin with the statement, "Most of the principal actors in Citizen Kane are new to motion pictures. The Mercury Theatre is proud to introduce them." Organized by Orson Welles and John Houseman in November 1937, The Mercury Theatre won critical acclaim for its productions, including Julius Caesar, The Shoemaker's Holiday, Heartbreak House and Danton's Death. However, it was The War of the Worlds, Welles's convincing radio portrayal of an invasion by Martians, broadcast on Halloween night, 1938, that brought him instant celebrity. According to a 1940 Saturday Evening Post series on Welles, Hollywood studios had offered the director a contract for $300 a week as early as 1936. Published accounts of Hollywood's interest did not appear until July 1939, when news items and RKO publicity announced that Welles, at age twenty-four and with no professional film experience, had signed a carte-blanche contract with RKO Radio Pictures, Inc. to produce, write, direct and act in one film per year. Welles was to be paid $150,000 per film in addition to a percentage of the gross, but more important to him was the stipulation that no one, not even RKO's president or board of directors, could interfere with him or see his work until it was completed. (Life reported that when RKO executives came on the set of Citizen Kane unannounced, Welles told his company to start a baseball game and walked off.) According to the Saturday Evening Post series, Welles once described the RKO studio as "the greatest railroad train a boy ever had." In her Los Angeles Examiner column, Louella Parsons observed that Welles "rode into Hollyood [sic] with a contract that never has been equaled in the entire history of motion pictures" and noted that he signed with RKO after Warner Bros. and M-G-M "refused to give him all the privileges that he asked." The Hollywood community greeted Welles with hostility. Gossip columnists repeatedly referred to him as "Little Orson Annie" and "Arson" Welles, and called attention to his beard, which he grew for stage roles and kept for his planned first film role.
Welles brought with him to Hollywood a number of staff members from the Mercury Theatre and established Mercury Productions, Inc. in partnership with Jack Moss. Early in August 1939, according to Hollywood Reporter, Welles began working with John Houseman and Herbert Drake on a script for his first film, an adaptation of the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness. Welles planned to play both of the major roles, Kurtz and Marlow, and to use a subjective camera. Saturday Evening Post reported that he was also to be the chief scenic artist and propman. Heart of Darkness was to feature many actors from the Mercury Theatre and Welles's radio company, the Mercury Theatre of the Air, including Everett Sloane, Ray Collins, Gus Schilling, Edgar Barrier and Erskine Sanford. Austrian actress Dita Parlo was wanted for the female lead. Production was set to begin on November 1, 1939, but according to Daily Variety, RKO pushed back the date to give the construction department more time to build the unusual sets. Fourteen actors were on salary in November 1939, but in December 1939, pre-production was halted. RKO announced that Welles would first make The Smiler with a Knife, variously called a comedy-mystery-drama and a thriller and based on a novel by Nicholas Blake, which the studio had recently purchased and for which Welles was writing the screenplay. The lead was to be a woman, and Welles was to play a supporting role. In a later interview, Welles stated that the studio would not let him cast Lucille Ball in the lead, so the project was shelved. According to RKO publicity, before Welles began work on Citizen Kane, he "indulged himself in the most concentrated course in movie making ever attempted, with the result that he has a working knowledge of every studio department."
The initial rough draft script of Citizen Kane is dated April 16, 1940 and entitled "American." This draft, in which "Xanadu" was called the "Alhambra," includes many scenes similar to incidents in the life of William Randolph Hearst, which were subsequently dropped. Modern sources dispute whether Welles or his co-writer, Herman J. Mankiewicz, should be given credit for the various drafts. Some sources claim that Welles tried to keep Mankiewicz's name off the screen credits, while others argue that while Mankiewicz's contract stipulated that he would not necessarily get an onscreen credit, Welles, in correspondence with his attorney, stated that he wanted Mankiewicz to get credit. In a deposition taken for a 1949 lawsuit, Welles stated that Mankiewicz wrote the dialogue for the first two drafts, and that he (Welles) worked on the third draft and "participated all along in conversations concerning the structure of the scenes." RKO story files at UCLA Arts-Special Collections Library contain extensive notes dated April 30, 1940 by Welles concerning desired changes to the April 16, 1940 draft. Subsequently, a number of drafts and continuities were written, concluding with the third revised final script, dated July 16, 1940. According to modern sources, Mankiewicz claimed to the Screen Writers' Guild that he should be given sole writing credit. According to the RKO Billing Memorandum file for the film at UCLA, on January 11, 1941, Mankiewicz signed a statement giving his consent for advertising to omit a screenplay credit. On January 18, 1941, Dore Schary of the Screen Writers' Guild wrote to Mercury Productions stating that the proposed credit "screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles" seemed to be in violation of a clause in the Producer-Screen Writers' Guild Agreement which stated that "No production executives will be entitled to share in the screen play authorship screen credit unless he does the screen play writing entirely without the collaboration of any other writer." Subsequently, on January 22, 1941, Welles and Mankiewicz signed a joint statement that "having carefully considered their intentions relative to the contract dated June 19, 1940, and having carefully considered the contribution of each of them in the writing of the original screen story for Citizen Kane," they agreed to the screen credits as they appear on the film. On January 27, 1941, the Screen Writers' Guild met and decided that the Guild had no jurisdiction in the matter because of the particular contract Mankiewicz had signed. A memo in the RKO files, dated June 5, 1941, states that both Mankiewicz and Welles worked 111 days on the screenplay: 7 December-December 23, 1939; 19 February-May 11, 1940; and 18 June-July 27, 1940. The memo also indicates that Houseman worked 87 days: 21 February-April 27, 1940; and 29 April-1 June 1940.
In an undated statement included in the RKO files at UCLA, Welles described his intent in making the film: "I wished to make a motion picture which was not a narrative of action so much as an examination of character. For this, I desired a man of many sides and many aspects. It was my idea to show that six or more people could have as many widely divergent opinions concerning the nature of a single personality." After discussing how he came to choose a newspaper publisher as his main character, Welles continued, "There have been many motion pictures and novels rigorously obeying the formula of the 'success story.' I wished to do something quite different. I wished to make a picture which might be called a 'failure story.'" Welles noted that his character "had never made what is known as 'transference' from his mother. Hence his failure with his wives." Welles concluded, "The protagonist of my 'failure story' must retreat from a democracy which his money fails to buy and his power fails to control.-There are two retreats possible: death and the womb. The house was the womb." In an article published in the New York publication Friday during the controversy that held up the film's release, Welles further explained his intent: "Kane, we are told, loved only his mother-only his newspaper-only his second wife-only himself. Maybe he loved all of these, or none. It is for the audience to judge....He is never judged with the objectivity of an author, and the point of the picture is not so much the solution of the problem as its presentation."
In an interview, Welles stated that Gregg Toland, who won the Academy Award in 1940 for his work on Wuthering Heights, asked to work with him. Toland, in a Popular Photography article, stated that with the backing of Welles, who had a reputation for experimentation in the theater, he "was able to test and prove several ideas generally accepted as being radical in Hollywood circles." In an article in American Cinematographer, Toland explained the rationale and technique of the "radical departures from conventional practice" that he and Welles devised for Citizen Kane. They felt "that if it was possible, the picture should be brought to the screen in such a way that the audience would feel it was looking at reality, rather than merely at a movie." They rejected direct cuts, wherever possible, favoring instead "to plan action so that the camera could pan or dolly from one angle to another" or to pre-plan "our angles and compositions so that action which ordinarily would be shown in direct cuts would be shown in a single, longer scene-often one in which important action might take place simultaneously in widely separated points in extreme foreground and background."
Because of the film's huge, deep sets, twin-arc broadsides, which were developed for Technicolor film, were used for lighting. With increased illumination, use of the new super speed emulsion Super XX, as well as wide-angle lenses coated with the recently developed Vard "Opticoat" non-glare coating, and stopping down, became possible. Toland relates, "we photographed nearly all of our interior scenes at apertures not greater than f:8-and often smaller." At that time, most Hollywood films were shot with apertures between f:2.3 and f:3.2. Use of the 24mm lens was virtually unheard of, according to a 1947 New York Times article, because of "the cruelty with which it exposes facial flaws in actors and actresses. Orson Welles employed it extensively in his notable Citizen Kane in 1940, but since then it has been largely relegated to the documentary field." Toland, through experimentation, was able to get sharp focus in even the larger sets, which extended the length of two stages at the RKO-Path studio, a distance of 200 feet. For purposes of realism, Welles and Toland ordered that ceilings be built for the majority of their sets and planned "unusually low camera-setups, so that we could shoot upward and take advantage of the more realistic effects of those ceilings." Another advantage of the ceilings, which were made of acoustically pourous muslin, was that microphones could be placed above them to avoid problems with shadows. In a Theatre Arts article, Toland noted that they spent four days perfecting the scene in which Mrs. Kane signs Thatcher's papers while young Charles plays with his sled in the snow.
Citizen Kane was the first film to be printed on a newly developed fine grain positive, which, according to Hollywood Reporter, "improves the fidelity of both sound recording and re-recording through removal of fine particles of silver nitrate that formerly dotted all positive prints." Toland insisted on using the new fine grain release positive, and according to RKO memos, RKO president George J. Schaefer agreed to change the lab for the film to Consolidated from De Luxe, which could not do the job because the new stock required about twenty times the normal intensity of printing lighting. In recognition of Toland's contributions to the picture, Welles signed a waiver with the Screen Directors' Guild in February 1941, authorizing his own credit card to include Toland's photography credit.
Photographic makeup and wardrobe tests for the production, which was then called "Orson Welles #3," began on April 16, 1940, with Russell Metty as cameraman. Metty also shot tests on 26 April and 1 May, showing Welles at varying ages. According to Los Angeles Times, the film was announced in May at RKO's annual convention in New York and at that time was called John Citizen, U.S.A. This title is not included in an RKO list of working titles, however. Toland is first credited for tests shot on June 14, 1940. On June 19, 1940, a test was shot with Welles, Joseph Cotten and Evelyn Meyers, in the role of "Susan." Production records for June 24, 1940 indicate that Ruth Warrick also tested for the role of "Susan"; because no other source, contemporary or modern, including Warrick's autobiography, mentions that she was under consideration for the role, this May have been an erroneous entry. Dorothy Comingore, then called Linda Winters, the name she used in a number of films in the 1930s, made her first test on July 1, 1940 with Welles, William Alland and Terry Belmont, who was not in the final film.
On June 29, 1940, the projection room scene in which "News on the March" is shown, was shot. It is listed in the RKO production records as a test, as were scenes shot on the 1st, 3rd, 6th, 22th, 23rd, 24th and 25th of July 1940. Scenes shot during this period that were kept in the final film include Thompson's first meeting with Susan; Kane's discovery of Susan's suicide attempt; Kane slapping Susan in the tent in the Everglades; Kane speaking from a flag-draped platform; Kane being interviewed on the boat deck; Susan confronting Kane in their Chicago hotel room; Susan's singing lesson with Signor Matiste; Kane shaking hands with Chamberlain; and Kane standing with Hitler and Goering. In later interviews, Welles explained that he shot these scenes under the guise of tests, so that once begun, the RKO front office, with whom he had been having difficulties, would find it hard to stop the film.
Welles entertained the press at a party on August 1, 1940 with footage from the White House wedding party scene. The press speculated on the film's subject matter, which Welles purposely kept secret. Although New York Times reported the official version-that the film "covers the last sixty years of the American scene" and that Welles's role was that of a "robber baron industrialist"-Hollywood Reporter, on July 29, 1940, stated, "despite denials from the Orson Welles contingent, insiders insist Little Orson Annie's flicker is based on the life of a well-known publisher. Treatment of the personality is sympathetic throughout."
Principal shooting continued until October 23, 1940, with two halts due to illnesses of Toland and Welles. On August 10, 1940, during the scene in which Kane yells at Boss Jim Gettys on the steps of Susan's second apartment, Welles fell about ten feet and suffered a chipped ankle. For two weeks, he shot around himself and directed from a wheelchair. On days when Welles filmed scenes requiring a lot of makeup, he would report to work before dawn and hold conferences as makeup artist Maurice Seiderman worked on his face. On 30 Aug, the company worked through the night on a rewritten scene depicting Leland confronting Kane after Kane loses the election. Welles reworked scenes as he shot and often gave extras lines to speak that were not in the script. Considerable time was spent after October 30, 1940 with inserts, added scenes, special effects, retakes and a trailer. Beginning 20 Nov, Harry Wild took over as cameraman, shooting the trailer and some scenes in the newsreel, including the Union Square speaker and the Spanish generals with Kane. The final shot, of Alland in front of the hospital before his interview with Leland, was taken on January 4, 1941 by cameraman Russ Cully, who also photographed one day in December 1940.
On July 15, 1940, Joseph I. Breen, director of the Production Code Administration, pointed out in a letter to RKO that one scene in the script was in violation of the Code because of its setting in a brothel. Despite the warning, Welles filmed the scene, which occurs after the party at The Inquirer office celebrating the acquisition of The Chronicle staff. The scene includes actresses Joan Blair and Frances Neal, playing "Georgie," the madam, and "Ethel," a prostitute whom Georgie introduces to Leland, respectively. This scene was not in the final film. Joan Blair does appear as one of the dancers in the party scene, however. Another scene was cut: in The Inquirer's composing room, during the night before Kane's first paper is to hit the streets, editor Carter resigns, and Kane commands the composing room foreman Smathers to remake the pages five minutes before they are to go to press. When Smathers objects, Kane shoves the forms of type onto the floor and tells him that after proofs are pulled, he will check the pages again and "then, if I can't find any way to improve them again-I suppose we'll have to go to press." Smathers was played by Benny Rubin, who was originally listed in the credit titles. On January 21, 1941, after his scene was cut, a memo was sent from Richard Baer (Welles's assistant, who, under the name Richard Barr, later became a well-known theatrical producer and director) to Douglas Travers stating Rubin's credit must be eliminated. According to production reports, Ed Hemmer was also in the cut scene.
Edgar Barrier was originally considered for the roles of Rawlston and Raymond. Glenn Turnbull and Carl Thomas, hired as a song-and-dance team for The Inquirer party sequence, participated in rehearsals but not in filming. Albert Frazier is listed in production files as a man in a gorilla suit for Xanadu zoo scenes, but no gorilla character appears in the completed picture. Joe Recht's voice was used in re-recording. Pat O'Malley's listing in the December 1940 Players Directory Bulletin includes Citizen Kane in his credits, but no confirming evidence concerning his participation has been located. Earl Seaman was scheduled to play a stagehand, but was not listed in the production reports.
The scene in which cars drive along a beach on the way to the Everglades picnic was actually shot at Point Mugu, CA, and some shots of the exterior of Xanadu in the "News on the March" sequence were taken at Balboa Park in San Diego, and at Busch Gardens in Florida, according to RKO Production Records. Stock footage for the film was obtained from Path News, including segments entitled "Red Party, Strikes, Etc.," "Graveyard of Ships," "Fang and Claw" and "White Wings," and from General Film Library, Inc., including segments entitled "San Francisco Earthquake" and "Spanish American War." Notes dated April 18, 1940 on suggested shots to be included in the newsreel sequence state that the Congressional Investigating Committee scene would be a reproduction of an existing J. P. Morgan newsreel.
Citizen Kane marked the screen debut of many actors, including Cotten, Warrick, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, Erskine Sanford, Everett Sloane and Paul Stewart, all of whom had worked with Welles in theater productions or radio broadcasts. According to RKO records, Sloane was paid $2,400 "in consideration for shaving his head." Citizen Kane was also the first film for composer Bernard Herrmann, who had worked with Welles on the radio. Although Van Nest Polglase got screen credit as art director, it was the practice at RKO for Polglase, head of the department, to get credit on all RKO films, no matter what his contribution. According to Welles, Perry Ferguson designed all the sets, which numbered over 110. Welles, in trade paper ads the day of the film's Hollywood premiere, gave thanks "to everybody who gets screen credit for Citizen Kane and thanks to those who don't: to all the actors, the crew, the office, the musicians, everybody, and particularly to Maurice Seiderman, the best makeup man in the world." According to a memo dated November 5, 1940, Welles wanted to give screen credit to Seiderman, who later worked with him on Touch of Evil. RKO officials were reluctant to give screen credit for makeup and perhaps establish a precedent, and pointed out that giving credit to Seiderman, an apprentice, "might jeopardize his personal situation with the Union," according to a November 23, 1940 memo. Welles continued to insist that Seiderman's name be included in the credits, until January 13, 1941, when a memo issued by Welles through Richard Baer dictated that makeup credits be eliminated. Welles also decided to remove credit for set decorations. Although Hugh McDowell was the soundman from 22 July through 3 Sep, he also did not receive screen credit.
In an article written for New York Times in May 1941, Herrmann revealed that Welles allowed him twelve weeks to write the score, a much longer time than was usually alloted to the composer. Herrmann was thus able to "work out a general artistic plan" and "to do my own orchestration and conducting." Instead of writing the music after the film was completely shot, the practice with most Hollywood films, Herrmann was able to work as the film progressed, allowing for many sequences to be "tailored to match the music," particularly the montages, for which he wrote complete musical numbers. Herrmann composed two main motifs: "One-a simple four-note figure in the brass-is that of Kane's power....The second motif is that of Rosebud. Heard as a solo on the vibraphone, it first appears during the death scene at the very beginning of the picture. It is heard again and again throughout the film under various guises, and if followed closely, is a clue to the ultimate identity of Rosebud itself." Herrmann commented that he used "radio scoring," musical cues lasting only a few seconds, a great deal, that "most of the cues were orchestrated for unorthodox instrumental combinations" and that sound effects were blended with music to intensify scenes. The music included in the "News on the March" segment, Herrmann noted, was taken from the RKO files.
Work was completed by January 18, 1941, and a complete print was ready for screening. The film, as of 21 Jan, was 11,041 feet, or approximately 123 minutes, according to a report from editor Robert Wise. Subsequently, the film was cut to 10,734 feet, or 119 minutes. According to an RKO cost sheet dated March 28, 1942, the final cost of the film was $839,727. Before production, the budget was estimated at $723,800. The film was scheduled to have its premiere on February 14, 1941 at Radio City Music Hall, but complications set in after a screening given on January 9, 1941 for Louella Parsons, motion picture editor of the Hearst papers. According to Daily Variety, Parsons insisted on a screening after an article about the film appeared in Friday, in which Welles ridiculed her for previously praising him and stated, "Wait until the woman finds out that the picture is about her boss." Friday subsequently allowed Welles space to deny that he ever spoke the quote, but meanwhile, Hearst editors were ordered to keep publicity, advertisements and reviews of all RKO films out of their newspapers. Parsons threatened RKO president George J. Schaefer that Hearst would bring a great deal of pressure on the motion picture industry if the film were released. According to New York Times, Louis B. Mayer of M-G-M and Harry M. Warner of Warner Bros. were then contacted, and Hearst representatives began investigating the "alien" situation in Hollywood, "something about which the industry is most sensitive." Adela Rogers St. John, a Hearst columnist, began gathering information for a story on Welles's romantic adventures, and a Congressional investigation of Hollywood was hinted at by Senator Burton K. Wheeler.
In a statement printed in New York Times in January 1941, Welles contended that the film "is not based upon the life of Mr. Hearst or anyone else. On the other hand, had Mr. Hearst and similar financial barons not lived during the period we discuss, Citizen Kane could not have been made." In the previously quoted statement on the intent of the film, found in the RKO story files at UCLA, Welles noted that in order to show the many divergent opinions concerning one individual, he decided that his character should be "an extremely public man." He considered using a fictitious president, but "deciding against this, I could find no other position in public life beside that of a newspaper publisher in which a man of enormous wealth exercises what might be called real power in a democracy....The history of the newspaper business obviously demanded that Kane be what is generally referred to as a yellow journalist." Welles wrote that once he chose his subject, "it was impossible for me to ignore American history....My picture could not begin the career of such a man in 1890 and take it to 1940 without presenting the man with the same problems which presented themselves to his equivalents in real life."
In the foreword to a memoir by Marion Davies, Hearst's mistress, Welles notes that everything in Citizen Kane was invented except for the telegram Kane orders to be sent to his reporter in Cuba ("You provide the prose poems, I'll provide the war"), which was based on the well-known wire Hearst sent to illustrator Frederick Remington ("You make the pictures, I'll make the war") and Kane's "crazy art collection." While acknowledging parallels, Welles points out that Hearst was born rich and was the "pampered son of an adoring mother," whereas Kane was born poor and reared by a bank. Welles states, "It was a real man who built an opera house for the soprano of his choice, and much in the movie was borrowed from that story, but the man was not Hearst." Others have speculated that Kane is not so much a portrayal of Hearst as a composite of a number of powerful men of the time, including Samuel Insull, Joseph Pulitzer, Charles A. Dana, Joseph Medill Patterson, James Gordon Bennett II, Frank A. Munsey, Harold Fowler McCormick and Colonel Robert McCormick. Indeed, on November 8, 1940, photographs of a number of famous publishers including Hearst, Pulitzer, McCormick, Patterson, Lord Northcliffe, Lord Beaverbrook, Bonfils and Sommes were ordered for the film to be reproduced for the "News on the March" sequence. Welles contended that Susan Alexander "bears no resemblance at all" to Marion Davies, whom he calls "one of the most delightfully accomplished comediennes in the whole history of the screen."
Some modern sources claim that Hearst's pet name for Marion Davies' genitalia was "Rosebud" and that Hearst threatened to expose details of the sexual lives of personages in Hollywood if the film were released. According to Hollywood Reporter, Hearst saw the film's script in September 1940 and "shot it back without a word." As Kane's dying word "Rosebud" was in the script at that time, it is unclear why, if the story about "Rosebud" was true, he took no action until the film was completed. (In March 1941, in Welles's New York production of Native Son, a child's sled bearing the name "Rosebud" was used as a prop, according to Hollywood Reporter.)
According to an March 8, 1941 memo, Schaefer wanted a clearance title attached to the film. Two possible clearance titles suggested on April 3, 1941 were: "This is not the story of any man, be he living or dead. Kane, and all other characters involved in this picture are wholly imaginary" and "Citizen Kane is not the story of the life of any man. It is the story of the forces that move in the lives of many great men, as seen through the eyes of lesser men." According to a modern source, Welles objected and wrote his own clearance title, which was added to the film and later deleted. It read, "Citizen Kane is an examination of the personal character of a public man, a portrait according to the testimony of the intimates of his life. These, and Kane himself, are wholly fictitious."
According to Daily Variety, the Hearst ban on mentioning or advertising RKO product ended on January 30, 1941 for all RKO films except Citizen Kane. Hearst's forces tried a number of tactics to stop its release, including, according to Daily Variety, stirring up the American Legion, Veterans of Foreign Wars and other patriotic groups; sending photographers to get "personal" pictures of Welles while he was at Palm Springs; and persistently inquiring at the draft board as to the reason Welles was not drafted. Welles, in a later interview, stated that he was warned one evening by a policeman not to return to his hotel room because an underaged, undressed girl and photographers had been sent there as a setup, a situation that could have resulted in a jail sentence. In April 1941, after a radio broadcast of His Honor, the Mayor, written and narrated by Welles, the Hearst papers launched an attack on "The Free Company" series, of which the broadcast was a part, and on Welles himself, whom they labeled Communistic and un-American. Welles replied in a statement to newspapers that the attack was unfounded and based solely on Hearst's displeasure with Citizen Kane.
In February 1941, Daily Variety reported that a rift had occurred in RKO's board regarding whether the film should be released, and that Welles, who had 25% interest in the film, privately threatened to take legal steps if the release was delayed. After Radio City Music Hall declined to premiere the film, Hollywood Reporter reported a rumor that Henry Luce, publisher of Time, offered one million dollars for the negative, intending to release it. Modern sources cite rumors that Louis B. Mayer, worried about Hearst's threats against the industry, tried to buy the negative from RKO in order to destroy it. By March 1941, after a number of special screenings, Hollywood Reporter reported that "the guess of 98 percent of those who have seen the picture is that it will never be released-can't be released other than under a threat of suits that Mr. W. R. Hearst will level against any theatre showing the film." On 11 Mar, Welles threatened to sue RKO for breach of contract and to attempt to obtain a court order to guarantee the picture's release if he did not receive proof within twenty-four hours that RKO would give the film an early release. Welles himself offered to buy the film, but RKO, after a preview to the trade press in Hollywood and New York on 9 Apr, scheduled the world premiere at the Palace Theatre in New York on 1 May. Subsequently, the film had its Hollywood premiere at the El Capitan on 8 May 1941.
Critics exuberantly praised the film. Hollywood Reporter called it "a great motion picture." Bosley Crowther of New York Times wrote, "Citizen Kane is far and away the most surprising and cinematically exciting motion picture to be seen here in many a moon. As a matter of fact, it comes close to being the most sensational film ever made in Hollywood." Film Daily stated, "In Citizen Kane, the cinema assures anew that its romper days are over and that it has attained man's estate." They noted the "somewhat similar experiment with 'narratage' 'way back in 1933," a reference to The Power and the Glory (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.3506), which, like Citizen Kane told its story in segments that jumped back and forth in time, and predicted Citizen Kane would have a more definite and lasting influence than that film had on the art and technique of cinema. John O'Hara, writing in Newsweek, commented that Citizen Kane was "the best picture he ever saw" and that Welles's performance as Kane made him "the best actor in the history of acting."
Although the film did well initially at the box office, it did not make back its cost. The film was selected as the best picture of 1941 by the New York critics and by Look magazine, and was cited as one of the ten best by a Film Daily poll of exhibitors and the National Board of Review. Mankiewicz and Welles won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay, and the film was nominated for Academy Awards in eight other categories: Best Picture; Best Director; Best Actor (Welles); Art Direction (black and white); Cinematography (black and white); Film Editing; Music; and Sound Recording. Four of the actors in the film, Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Ruth Warrick and Ray Collins, received contracts from RKO. The film was re-released on May 25, 1956, and was selected as one of the twelve best films of all time in September 1958 by a Brussels poll of 117 film historians from 26 countries. Subsequently, Citizen Kane was chosen as the best film in motion picture history in 1962, 1972 and 1982 by Sight & Sound polls of international critics. In January 1989, Turner Entertainment Co. announced it was beginning preliminary tests to colorize the film, but after reviewing the contract between RKO, Welles and Mercury Productions, Turner announced in February 1989 that they would discontinue the tests and would not colorize the picture because of Welles's "almost total creative control," including the final cut, that was written into the contract. Turner subsequently re-released the film theatrically on May 1, 1991. In 2007, Citizen Kane was ranked 1st on AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies-10th Anniversary Edition list of the greatest American films, remaining in the first position it occupied on AFI's 1997 list.
Modern sources list the following additional credits: Asst art dir Hilyard Brown; Sketch artist Charles Ohmann; Sketches and graphics Al Abbott, Claude Gillingwater, Jr., Albert Pyke and Maurice Zuberano; Matte artist Mario Larrinaga; Boom operator Jimmy Thompson; Sd eff ed T. K. Wood; Sd eng for sd eff Harry Essman; and Music Editor Ralph Bekher.