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Archive for June 28th, 2022

Today’s movie review is for “Citizen Kane” (1941).  This is a long review of a classic movie which routinely rates as one of the best movies of all time.  There are spoilers in this review.  (You’ve been warned…)
Background:
I first saw this movie when I was in my mid-20’s and my roommate was trying to get me interested in classic movies (dramas, westerns and musicals).  He mostly succeeded in piquing my interest, but this was before video tapes, let alone DVDs, so a neophyte couldn’t re-watch a movie to their heart’s content.  We were pretty much limited to whatever was showing up on TV or as very limited re-releases at the local theater.  The bottom line is I saw this once and was under-whelmed.
I guess about five years ago, my daughter bought me a copy of the film for X-mas after we had a discussion about “must-see” classic films.  I don’t think I’ve ever watched that version.  She did.  Anyway, I recently picked up a copy on my VUDU account and decided to enjoy a classic.
Cast:
The movie stars Orson Welles as Charles Foster Kane the owner of “The Inquirer” newspaper syndicate;  Joseph Cotten as Jedediah Leland, Kane’s best friend and a “society” reporter for Kane’s newspaper;  Dorothy Comingore as Susan Alexander Kane, Kane’s mistress and second wife;  Agnes Moorehead as Mary Kane, Kane’s mother;  Ruth Warrick as Emily Monroe Norton Kane, Kane’s first wife;  Everett Sloane as Mr. Bernstein, Kane’s friend and employee at the paper;  and, George Coulouris as Walter Parks Thatcher, a banker who becomes Kane’s legal guardian.
Plot Summary:
The movie starts with an old man dying in what seems to be almost a castle.  He has a snow-globe in his hand and as he dies, his last word is:  “Rosebud”.  The movie then jumps to a several minute intro about how wealthy (and wasteful) the old guy was…
The basic plot is a reporter is told to find out who this guy really is and what was “Rosebud”.  The reporter then proceeds to recount a number of interviews with the old guy’s friends / family / colleagues…
A young boy becomes wealthy after the discovery of gold on his recently deceased father’s property and his mother ships him off East to be educated and looked after in a series of boarding schools.  The boy does badly and goes through a series of schools and colleges, but his wealth continues to grow until he is one of the five wealthiest men in the world at the age of twenty-five.  Kane returns from Europe with his long-time friend (Leland) and they set about running a “yellow-sheet” newspaper and turning it into a nation-wide paper and radio syndicate.  Although losing money, his other interests continue to grow his wealth under the supervision of Thatcher.  When the Great Depression hits, Kane is wiped out and his business interests are bought at pennies on the dollar by Thatcher.
Without any explanation, Kane is suddenly wealthy again and back in the publishing business.  Kane tries to leverage this into a Governorship of New York State, but loses the election when his opponent publicizes Kane’s “affair” with a clerk / part-time singer.  Kane’s first wife divorces him.  He marries the singer and proceeds to make her life miserable by trying to turn her into an opera singer – although she lacks the ability or desire.  She fails and attempts suicide to avoid further public humiliation.  Kane begins building a famed estate “Xanadu” where they retreat to.  Kane’s second wife leaves him (mostly for mental abuse).  Kane has a fit and then after some unspecified time fades and dies.  His last word is:  “Rosebud”.
The final scene of the movie is a pre-cursor to the ending of “Raiders of the Lost Ark” warehouse scene…  Kane’s possessions are being catalogued and those items deemed “worthless” are thrown into the Xanadu furnace.  One of the items is a sled with the manufacture’s name:  “Rosebud”.
Review:
So, is it any good?  How’s the acting?  Is it “really” a classic?  First off, please recall the film is now eighty(80) years old…  Within that specific constraint:  YES, GREAT and YES!!!
Is it good – the movie is no surprise.  We are told the ending up front and then the story evolves through the series of interlocking / overlapping flashbacks.  Little to nothing occurs in “real time” – our time as a viewer.  The only twist is the actual final furnace scene where WE learn the implied meaning of Rosebud as a profound effect on a young boy’s life.  But is it ANY good?  As stated, it is widely considered one of the greatest movies EVER.  It was up for multiple Oscars (but only won one).  There are multiple books written about the movie and Welles is considered to be one of the greatest directors in film history – although he “directed” only a dozen films in his lifetime.
How’s the acting – it’s actually pretty good.  Obviously the special effects used for aging characters back then is nowhere near what were used to seeing in modern cinema, it holds its own.  I personally am not enamored with Welles role, but I liked all of the other characters / actors – particularly Cotton and Comingore.  The former made a terrific jilted / disabused friend and the latter a terrific naive young lady.
Is it a classic – DUH!!  In preparation for this review, I read the Wikipedia article on the movie.  The initial criticism is there is little to nothing (film making technique) new here.  The response:  maybe, but it was the first movie to tie a whole bunch of things previously (rarely) done together and have the sum be much greater than any of the individual techniques in prior movies.  It’s effects have been both profound, pervasive and long lasting.
Final recommendation:  This IS a classic movie and a must see film if you are at all interested in film history.  ‘Nuff said…
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On This Day In:
2021 Are You Rotating Crops?
Wrong Block, Dummy
2020 I Choose Justice And Mercy
2019 Close, Sustained, Careful, Daily
2018 One Brick At A Time
2017 Order The Rope, #DumbDonald
2016 Chains Of Habit
2015 That You Shall Remain
Did You See That?
2014 True, Vibrant And Open
2013 Remembering, Yet Again
2012 Something Of Value
2011 Sleep All Day

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Like our pandemic response, the U.S. Capitol riot is the latest cataclysm to be blamed on a failure of imagination.  Who could imagine a virus that crashes the entire global operating system, or an attack that narrowly fails to decapitate the U.S. government?
And the obvious answer?  Anyone who was paying attention.
Just as epidemiologists long warned of a pandemic, the insurrectionists helpfully advertised their violent intentions all over social media.  The phrase storm the Capitol, unleashing countless QAnon furies, appeared 100,000 times in the month before the attack, according to Zignal Labs.  The President clashed his cymbals and stoked the lie;  party leaders largely ignored or pampered him.  The day before the attack, an FBI office shared the warnings from online:  “Be ready to fight.  Congress needs to hear glass breaking, doors being kicked in  …  Get violent.  Stop calling this a march, or rally, or a protest.  Go there ready for war.”
Which means that it should have required no imagination to foresee an uprising that was planned, promised and promoted in plain sight.
But until we find our way back to a shared reality, lack of moral imagination will remain a national-security threat.  Lack of moral leadership at a moment like this imperils democracy itself.  In our schools and sanctuaries and clubs and communities, in our dealings with alienated friends and family, the vital work of replacing toxic fantasies with hard realities falls to each of us.
    —     Nancy Gibbs
From her op-ed:  “TheView Essay: America’s Moral Vaccum
Appearing in:  Time Magazine;  1 / 8 February 2021
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On This Day In:
2021 Are You Rotating Crops?
Wrong Block, Dummy
2020 I Choose Justice And Mercy
2019 Close, Sustained, Careful, Daily
2018 One Brick At A Time
2017 Order The Rope, #DumbDonald
2016 Chains Of Habit
2015 That You Shall Remain
Did You See That?
2014 True, Vibrant And Open
2013 Remembering, Yet Again
2012 Something Of Value
2011 Sleep All Day

Read Full Post »

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