The fresh, sophisticated, and classic masterpiece, Citizen Kane (1941), is probably the world’s most famous and highly-rated film, with its many remarkable scenes and performances, cinematic and narrative techniques and experimental innovations that all of us are aware of. Its director, star, and producer were all the same genius individual – Orson Welles and with Gregg Toland as his talented cinematographer.
The film, budgeted at $800,000, received unanimous critical praise even at the time of its release, although it was not a commercial until it was re-released after World War II, found well-deserved (but delayed) recognition in Europe, and then played on television.
The film engendered controversy before it premiered in New York City on May 1, 1941, because it appeared to fictionalize and caricaturize certain events and individuals in the life of William Randolph Hearst – a powerful newspaper magnate and publisher. The film was accused of drawing remarkable, unflattering, and uncomplimentary parallels (especially in regards to the Susan Alexander Kane character) to real-life. The notorious battle was detailed in Thomas Lennon’s and Michael Epstein’s Oscar-nominated documentary The Battle Over Citizen Kane (1996).