Citizen Kane: The Fiftieth-Anniversary Album

What’s most useful about this coffee-table adjunct to Citizen Kane‘s silver jubilee is that it reminds you that Orson Welles didn’t do it all himself. True, the 25-year-old novice came closer to being the whole show than anyone has before or, arguably, since. Not only did he produce, direct, star, and rework Herman J. Mankiewicz’s script, Welles had a hand in everything from sound recording to choosing props. Yet Harlan Lebo’s careful prose paints a picture not of a megalomaniac but of a charismatic, boyish firebrand leading a talented troupe into a new era of moviemaking. Cinematographer Gregg Toland and makeup artist Maurice Seiderman get their due, and even RKO chief George Schaefer is acknowledged for his hands-off approach. The trauma surrounding Kane‘s release is recalled, too, down to Louis B. Mayer’s attempt to placate newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst (on whom Charles Foster Kane was loosely based) by offering to buy up the negative and burn it. There may, in fact, be too much detail here: If you don’t know what ”Rosebud” means, make sure you see the movie first. B

Citizen Kane: The Fiftieth-Anniversary Album
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