Smell of Popcorn

film reviews & musings by Max Lalanne

Citizen Kane celebrates its 71st anniversary

Posted by Max Lalanne on September 5, 2012

Orson Welles in Citizen Kane.

Citizen Kane was released on September 5th, 1941, this day exactly, marking its 71st anniversary. Obviously, much heated talk of this film has been circulating around the blogosphere much these past few weeks what with the newest installment of BFI’s once-a-decade Sight & Sound “Greatest Films of All Time” list, and the subsequent results of such that by now you must know.

Within the withering spotlight as no other film has ever been before, Orson Welles‘s “Citizen Kane” had is world première at the Palace last evening. And now that the wraps are off, the mystery has been exposed and Mr. Welles and the RKO directors have taken the much-debated leap, it can be safely stated that suppression of this film would have been a crime. For, in spite of some disconcerting lapses and strange ambiguities in the creation of the principal character, “Citizen Kane” is far and away the most surprising and cinematically exciting motion picture to be seen here in many a moon. As a matter of fact, it comes close to being the most sensational film ever made in Hollywood. (Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, May 2, 1941)

Why did I include the the above snippet from the Times review? I’m not entirely sure, though I did have a purpose in mind. I guess I wanted to remind everyone that the important thing is that Citizen Kane is indeed an outstanding and unsurpassed achievement, and you don’t need a silly list to make up your mind about how good it is or indeed any other film. In 1941, Crowther and the other critics knew that (even if unknowingly they were kickstarting what would become this very conversation) and it’s important to separate a brilliant classic from the preconcieved legend that’s always surrounding it. Sometimes it’s nice reading a vintage review, and and feeling what it must have been like to be some of the first experiencing such a film. That’s all.

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