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who wrote citizen kane screenplay
Two new books offer divergent theories on the authorship of the much-heralded film.
How fitting that a film about the elusiveness of truth is the subject of endless argument.
The most lauded American movie ever, Citizen Kane was controversial even before it premiered 75 years ago this month—“Within the withering spotlight as no other film has ever been before.
” the New York Times intoned, noting William Randolph Hearst’s angry effort to bury the movie about a rapacious news magnate clearly based on him.
—and the roiling continues. In just the last few months there has been plenty of gnashing over the inspiration for “Rosebud,” the movie’s central motif.
And now two books make starkly opposing claims about the origin of the movie itself.
The screenplay is credited to the director and star, Orson Welles.
and Herman Mankiewicz. But a posthumous memoir by his son Frank Mankiewicz charges that Welles wrote “not one word.”
In So As I Was Saying, Frank, who served as Robert F. Kennedy’s press secretary, channels his father’s memory.
and insists Welles “literally pleaded for at least a joint screen credit ‘so [he] could get paid at all’” under the terms of his contract.
A Filmmaker’s Journey contradicts
But research presented in Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker’s Journey contradicts Mankiewicz’s view.
Analyzing two overlooked copies of a Kane “corrections script” unearthed in the archives at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and the University of Michigan, the journalist-turned-historian Harlan Lebo found that Welles revised the script extensively.
even crafting pivotal scenes from scratch—such as when the aging Kane muses, “If I hadn’t been very rich, I might have been a really great man.”
Lebo also saw notes by Welles’ assistant, Kathryn Trosper Popper, who recorded the director’s and writer’s reactions to changes in the screenplay .
(“Welles: Loves it. Mank: It stinks!”). Lebo’s documentary evidence, to say nothing of his independence, give his account the edge.
The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane
Nothing in the movie has been deconstructed more than the dying Kane’s mysterious utterance “Rosebud!” Arguably the most famous line in American cinema.
it refers, of course, to his childhood sled. But its genesis has long been a matter of debate.
The Financial Times film critic Nigel Andrews has mused that it might have been a nod to Welles’ radio days.
Mankiewicz’s book claims his father had a Rosebud-brand bicycle as a child.
But Patrick McGilligan, in a book published last year.
The Years of Luck and Genius on the Path to Citizen Kane, has the freshest answer yet.
He points to long-forgotten court papers in which Herman Mankiewicz stated that the name came from Old Rosebud, the 1914 Kentucky Derby winner, a horse that he bet on big.
who wrote citizen kane reddit
Can somebody please seriously in detail explain why Citizen Kane is considered by many critics and moviegoers as the best film ever made.
I’ve seen the flick many times at different times in my life and cannot understand its appeal.
I remember seeing The Godfather for the first time when I was 14 and I’m still in awe to this day of its brilliance and unofficial connection to America.
Citizen Kane just feels like a dated picture of a time I can’t relate to.
However, a masterpiece set in the 1940’s I can identify with as the story of America.
Help me fellow movie buffs to understand what makes Citizen Kane far superior to the Godfather.
who co wrote citizen kane
Who Wrote ‘Citizen Kane’? It’s No Mystery
The Netflix drama “Mank” suggests that Herman J. Mankiewicz, credited along with Orson Welles, primarily wrote the script. But that has long been debunked by scholars.
“Mank,” the new drama from David Fincher, revives an old charge against Orson Welles. Was Welles, who with “Citizen Kane” (1941) created what is often cited as the greatest movie ever made on his first try, actually standing on the shoulders of another genius?
The movie, which began streaming on Netflix on Friday, dramatizes the writing of “Citizen Kane”.
through the eyes of Herman J. Mankiewicz, who received top billing on the shared screenplay credit with Welles.
The film focuses on the period when Mankiewicz wrote what became a 300-page doorstop called “American,” .
partly drawing on his own experiences as a dinner guest of the newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, the inspiration for the character of Charles Foster Kane.
Fincher’s movie, using a screenplay by his father, Jack Fincher, implies that Mankiewicz was the principal author of the script. When “Citizen Kane” won the Oscar for best original screenplay.
neither Welles nor Mankiewicz attended the ceremony, but “Mank” concludes with its title character (Gary Oldman) telling reporters the acceptance speech he would have delivered:
“I am very happy to accept this award in the manner in which the screenplay was written, which is to say, in the absence of Orson Welles.”.
(As recounted in Richard Meryman’s 1978 biography of Mankiewicz, he really did devise an after-the-fact acceptance speech close to those words, although he also enjoyed a teasing correspondence with Welles at that time.)
the idea that Mankiewicz alone wrote
For Welles scholars, the idea that Mankiewicz alone wrote “Citizen Kane” is an old falsehood, and its continued repetition may testify to the staying power of “Citizen Kane.”
Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker’s Journey
“It’s the greatest film ever made, it has the longest track record of representing what cinema can be.
and who’s responsible for making it that way is a continuing story,”
Harlan Lebo, the author of “Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker’s Journey,” an exhaustive account of the movie’s making, said.
Any controversy began in 1940, Lebo said.
Welles, known for his spellbinding stage and radio productions with the Mercury Theater in New York.
was making a much-watched arrival in Hollywood, having signed at age 24 to direct his first picture.
He told the gossip columnist Louella Parsons that he had written the forthcoming “Kane.”
“Herman immediately flips, is threatening to sue, wants to make sure he maintains credit,” Lebo said.
Mercury Theater’s radio writers typically didn’t get credit.
and Mankiewicz had waived his claim to authorship of “Kane” in a contract with the company. Welles could have pressed for full credit.
Lebo writes, but his lawyer advised against the publicity of a dispute, and a shared credit was ultimately agreed to by both writers.
told The New York Times Magazine
The “Mank” producer Douglas Urbanski said that Welles’s lawyer, L. Arnold Weissberger, had left credit contractually vague. “If they got Herman the drunk who didn’t deliver,” Urbanski said, “there was no way they were going to give it, quite rightly, and if he earned it, Orson was going to do what he ultimately did.” (He acknowledged that some of Weissberger’s communications cut against this theory.)
The question of who wrote what has surfaced periodically over the years, but it lives on mainly because of the New Yorker critic Pauline Kael. In 1971, she wrote a two-part essay in which she asserted, quoting Mankiewicz’s secretary Rita Alexander (Lily Collins in “Mank”), that “Welles didn’t write (or dictate) one line of the shooting script.” Fincher told The New York Times Magazine that the essay, “Raising Kane,” provided the germ of an idea for the screenplay.
The 50,000-word essay is widely regarded as a misstep in Kael’s work as a journalist. She was accused of not having spoken to Welles or Kathryn Trosper, his assistant when “Kane” was written, and of ignoring archival material that might have complicated the article’s contentions. She was even accused of using, without credit, the research of Howard Suber, a young professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, whose interviews with Mankiewicz’s wife, Sara, and others can be found on file with Kael’s papers at Indiana University.
Citizen Kane is a 1941 American drama film produced and directed by Orson Welles, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Herman J. Mankiewicz. The picture was Welles’s first feature film. Considered by many critics and filmmakers to be the greatest film ever made, Citizen Kane was voted number 1 in five consecutive British Film Institute Sight & Sound polls of critics, and it topped the American Film Institute’s 100 Years … 100 Movies list in 1998, as well as its 2007 update