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by Citizen Kate (trinity_destler)
at November 1st, 2009 (10:51 am)

current mood: pensive

I'm new to the community and there's something I'd like to ask anyone who's still hanging around here. Hopefully we can get a bit of discussion going.

I wanted to ask if you think that Citizen Kane is worth the price paid for it. Meaning of course, is having Kane worth losing all the pictures Orson could have made if he hadn't had some of the most powerful people in Hollywood after his blood right from his film début? Or is it impossible to say?

Would he have been able to hang on to his contract and make lucrative films even without the troubles with CK?


Posted by: almost certainly thinking about William Shatner (my_daroga)
Posted at: November 1st, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)

As said above, I think it's impossible to determine. The confluence of factors: Hearst, economics, public opinion, Welles' own character (which I think meant that he was likely to piss of someone along the way, and most decisive figures do) all mean that the "failure" of Welles after CK has no one impetus. Because what happened with Ambersons seems to have plenty going against it without CK being involved--the timing of his FDR-encouraged It's All True trip, his misplaced trust in RKO, etc, led to that film's failure. And I don't subscribe to an all-encompassing conspiracy theory, though no doubt Hearst did have a lot of influence over the reception of CK.

Anyway my point is, I'm not sure I can isolate the "powerful people" argument as the sole cause of Welles' career trajectory. If there was a way to separate out these factors and determine that we could have had CK OR a host of even better films as he matured as an artist, then of course it isn't worth it. But like anything else, and especially in a collaborative, commercially-driven "artistic" medium, I don't think it's possible to winnow it down.

Awesome topic, by the way. Thank you so much for bringing it. I welcome disagreement, if anyone has one!

Posted by: Citizen Kate (trinity_destler)
Posted at: November 2nd, 2009 06:22 am (UTC)

Of course the powers theory is something of an oversimplification, but things might have turned out differently in his career if CK had made big money its first time out (validating him), and from what I've read, without Hearst's efforts to suppress the film it probably would have. I think CK's "failure" was the biggest stumbling block, if not the first, between Orson and a well-funded career. If he'd brought in the money they'd hoped for when they signed him, they'd probably have been more forgiving of his character. Once it was proven to deliver, they'd be harder pressed to begrudge him his way.

You've made me think of something else, though. Say he would have been able to make at least a few more films with total control and studio budgets if not for Kane. Would he be recognised the same way now without that struggle? Is it a sort of Titanic-like situation; if not for the element of tragedy people wouldn't remember or appreciate the value of what was "lost". The story of the young, fresh-faced artist's ultimate victory over the old boy's club might be a key part of CK's nigh-unanimous acclaim, because people tend to baulk more the more people tell them something is great. That underdog element might be the thing which makes CK's greatness palatable.


(I'm tired and trying to write and essay, so apologies if this doesn't make any sense. Also; you're welcome! I'm glad people are replying. :D)

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