Archive for the “Orson Welles” Category

CITIZEN KANE

By Professor Elena Starr, Villanova University

Lobby Card

 

“The word genius was whispered into my ear, the first thing I ever heard, while I was still mewling in my crib. So it never occurred to me that I wasn’t until middle age.” — Orson Welles, Wall Street Journal

 

INDUSTRY APPROACH

Orson Welles was a child prodigy, an “enfant terrible” who excelled at a variety of arts. He was reading Shakespeare by the age of three, and at nineteen he had his own edition of Shakespeare’s works published, which sold 200,000 copies. By his late teens, he had already proven his talent as a painter, a journalist, a magician (as his father was), and an actor and director in Dublin’s prestigious Abbey Theatre. He had also taken up bullfighting in Spain, where, even today, he is regarded by many as an authority on the subject. At 20, having returned to the U.S., he became co-producer of the Negro Peoples Theatre, one of then-President Franklin Roosevelt’s public works projects. (This is the topic of Tim Robbins’ fairly recent film The Cradle Will Rock.) One of Welles’ major accomplishments at this point was to partner with actor/director John Houseman (later star of the film and TV versions of The Paper Chase) and to take a group of African-Americans who had never acted before and stage an all-black production of Macbeth, replete with voodoo. A highly audacious venture for its time, the play became the theatrical sensation of 1936.

 

At the age of 22, Welles established the Mercury Theatre, where he acted and directed. At 23, he made the cover of Time. He became important in the world of radio, where he made about $3,000 a week (despite the Depression), primarily as the voice of the eponymous hero of “The Shadow.”  Welles funneled much of his radio earnings into the Mercury Theatre productions, including the infamous radio broadcast of “The War of the Worlds,” in which he convinced audiences that Martians had landed on Earth.

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Further Reading About Citizen Kane:

The American Experience TV Show: The Battle Over Citizen Kane

Get to know this site, called Film Site (!) – one of the best resources for film history on the web:

Filmsite.org on Citizen Kane

The Screenplay for Citizen Kane:

Citizen Kane Screenplay

For Further Reading About Orson Welles

From a blog called Wellesnet – probably the best one place for information about Orson Welles and his films – this is a well known, rare article Welles wrote about his film career – called “Twilight in the Smog”. : In it he explains that to retain his artistic freedom, he left Hollywood to pursue his career in Europe.

Wellesnet

From Senses of Cinema – one of the best places on the web for articles on a wide range of film topics:

Senses of Cinema on Orson Welles

Video Clips

 

Opening Scene:

Citizen Kane (1941) – Opening Scene from Rob Angiello on Vimeo.

Boarding House Scene:

Citizen Kane Boarding House2 from Rob Angiello on Vimeo.

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