7.0/10
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52 user 27 critic

RKO 281 (1999)

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1:15 | Trailer
Orson Welles produces his greatest film, Citizen Kane (1941), despite the opposition of the film's de facto subject, William Randolph Hearst.

Director:

Benjamin Ross

Writers:

John Logan, Richard Ben Cramer (documentary "The Battle Over Citizen Kane") | 1 more credit »
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Won 1 Golden Globe. Another 13 wins & 28 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Liev Schreiber ... Orson Welles
James Cromwell ... William Randolph Hearst
Melanie Griffith ... Marion Davies
John Malkovich ... Herman Mankiewicz
Brenda Blethyn ... Louella Parsons
Roy Scheider ... George Schaefer
Liam Cunningham ... Gregg Toland
David Suchet ... Louis B. Mayer
Fiona Shaw ... Hedda Hopper
Anastasia Hille ... Carole Lombard
Roger Allam ... Walt Disney
Simeon Andrews Simeon Andrews ... John Houseman
William Armstrong William Armstrong ... Mr. Lewis
Jay Benedict ... Darryl Zanuck
Ron Berglas ... David O. Selznick
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Storyline

Coming to Hollywood as a celebrated boy genius featuring a spectacular career arc in New York including his radio hoax War of the Worlds, Orson Welles is stymied on the subject for his first film. After a dinner party at Hearst Castle, during which he has a verbal altercation with William Randolph Hearst, Welles decides to do a movie about Hearst. It takes him some time to convince co-writer Herman J. Mankiewicz and the studio, but Welles eventually gets the script and the green light, keeping the subject very hush-hush with the press. The movie is about an aging newspaper publisher who controlled his enemies as ruthlessly as he controlled his friends; and whose mistress was destined for fame. When a rough cut is screened, Hearst gets wind of the movie's theme and begins a campaign to see that it is not only never publicly screened, but destroyed. Written by Greg Bulmash <greg@imdb.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The true, behind-the-scenes story of the making of the greatest movie of all time, Citizen Kane. See more »

Genres:

Biography | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some graphic sexual images | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | UK

Language:

English

Release Date:

20 November 1999 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

RKO 281: The Battle Over Citizen Kane See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$12,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital

Aspect Ratio:

16:9
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

When Louella Parsons is shown viewing the film, the actual soundtrack and original dialogue from Citizen Kane (1941) is heard. See more »

Goofs

Both Hearst and Louella Parsons make veiled anti-Semitic threats in the movie. The claim may be made that these comments (which were reported on but, contrary to the film, did not actually appear in print) were intended as a tactic, but Hearst has not been accused of anti-Semitism. In fact, his newspapers were among the few, a couple of years later, to expose the Holocaust while it was ongoing and demand that action be taken.

The movie also claims that Walt Disney had fascist sympathies. This movie is not the first to make that claim, but it is based on very weak evidence. Disney was a conservative (although he largely became one after 1940), but hardly a fascist. See more »

Quotes

Herman Mankiewicz: What about Marion?
Orson Welles: She's just another piece in his collection. Another animal in his zoo.
Herman Mankiewicz: Well to Hearst, that is love. "I love you, I built you a beautiful cage."
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Brief Film Reviews: My DVD/Blu-Ray Collection (2010) See more »

Soundtracks

I'm Getting Sentimental Over You
Written by George Bassman and Ned Washington
See more »

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User Reviews

 
fascinating film for fans of Welles, who of course will tear it to shreds
9 December 2004 | by cheroldSee all my reviews

Very interesting movie about the battle to get Citizen Kane made has carved out a tricky niche for itself; the movie is going to be most interesting to fans of Welles and Kane, and those people are going to have such specific expectations about what the movie should be that they can't be satisfied.

I see a number of reviews here complaining that this movie doesn't show why Kane was a great movie, but that's not the movie that was being made. It is a short movie about a specific struggle, with brief glimpses into the filming, and unless it had been titled, "RKO 281: The Making of Citizen Kane," you can't fault it for not spending an hour on Welles innovations.

The film is entertaining, Schreiber is a good Welles and Malkovitch is also quite good. I note people also complain that the movie isn't all that accurate. I do wish the film had done a better job with Marian Davies, as one hears her described as fantastically charming and loved by Hollywood (it has been said that Welles' flaying of Davies did more to bring out the knives of the Hollywood press than his portrayal of Hearst). But come on, how can one complain about liberties taking with reality in a movie made about Welles, who loved taking liberties with reality?


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