Ain't It Cool News (

Harry's CITIZEN KANE dvd Review

I’ve been depressed enough today, and my feeling is that you have probably been feeling like you can’t escape what has happened anywhere… Movie Theaters have closed down, Theme Parks, Television Shows and friggin BASEBALL…

I refuse to be held hostage by the insanity of a few, my job in life is to provide you with COOL NEWS, and on a day like this… so filled with dread and melancholy… I’ll be damned if I won’t provide you with something to look forward to, a moment’s distraction and a respite from the madness of the world we’ve been plunged into.

Yesterday, I received an advance copy of the CITIZEN KANE dvd… The upcoming super deluxe DVD set

I stayed up last night, till early this morning diving into this two disc set, pouring over the exquisite features… the fabulous commentaries by critic/director/Welles Biographer PETER BOGDANOVICH and a separate commentary by Roger Ebert. Both commentaries are sublimely perfect to give you new perspectives on CITIZEN KANE… With the Ebert commentary though, I really wish that they had instead filmed him giving his scene for scene analysis that he does from time to time at festivals and presentations. A couple of years back while boating through the Panama Canal, I watched Ebert and the audience of the Floating Film Festival disappear into CITIZEN KANE… Pointing out the significance and tricks of nearly every frame of the film. While that is not here, Ebert’s commentary is much like his DARK CITY commentary…. A film lover loving the film you are watching and articulately and with great skill guiding you through a film with an expert’s eyes and knowledge to illuminate you.

Meanwhile Bogdanovich’s commentary is equally great. Giving you an amazing look into Welles and William Randolph Hearst. Interestingly enough, Bogdanovich has just finished his own film on Hearst and the infamous Marion Davies/Charles Chaplin/Thomas Ince incident… called THE CAT’S MEOW!

In addition to these two great features, the dvd gives you a great 1941 Movie Premiere Newsreel… Probably one of the most joyous premieres ever given how close this film came to never being released or existing (even after being filmed). The Galleries of Storyboards, Photos, Alternate ad campaigns, correspondences, call sheets and other great stuff is just a treasure trove for the CITIZEN KANE junkie.

On the second disc is the two hour THE BATTLE OVER CITIZEN KANE documentary that PBS shot. Here you see glimpses of amazing footage from Welles’ beginnings… Like film footage of his first New York theater show, produced by the New Deal’s WPA, an all-black cast production of MACBETH… but done as VOODOO MACBETH… The footage is breathtaking… Startling beyond words and makes you dream of a time machine to take you back and watch this spectacle play out… In addition the stills from Welles’ Mercury Theatre stage production of JULIUS CEASAR as though it took place in Nazi Germany… Lit like the Nuremburg Marches… Looking at impossibly young images of John Houseman, Joseph Cotton and Orson Welles himself… Hearing how the first performance bombed, and how Welles added a new scene.. the death of a poet… and when they played it, the audience roared… stopping the play for 4-5 minutes at a time. The production was considered the greatest adaptation of Shakespeare ever made…

Listening to Welles himself talking about renting an Ambulance to whisk him from radio station to radio station to do voices for dozens upon dozens of characters.. showing up having never read the script, asking… What’s the character… and being told 80 year old Chinese man, and then on air… and he transformed that quickly.

In addition the piece profiles William Randolph Hearst’s rise to power with footage and images from the Spanish American War… The stories simply defining modern imagination.

This documentary is soooooooooo much better than RKO 281 that it isn’t even funny… Watching Welles say that "I should have left film after CITIZEN KANE, but I was like a husband who stays with his wife through an illness, But I love her" AMAZING!!!

And then finally there is the film itself… CITIZEN KANE is simply one of the greatest films of all time. The first time I ever saw it was at the age of 21, I’d seen pieces before, but never sat down and watched it. That first time I was on a beachfront motel, out the window of which upon that magnificent hill was SAN SIMEON. I rented the film from the Motel’s video selection… and Dad and I watched it together… He’d seen it innumerable times, and said I had seen it perhaps 15 times as a small child at various film parties… but here… in the shadow of the Ranch, watching Xanadu behind that gothic Gate with the ominous ‘K’… The perfect film experience.

Since then, I’ve watched Kane perhaps 3 to 4 times a year… Why? Because I feel it continues to get even better with each viewing. You pick up on so much, noticing details you never caught before. And watching the film last night from 5am to 7am… I didn’t do so much as a long blink…. And I watched it 3 times last night… Once with Bogdanovich’s commentary, once with Ebert’s… and once with my own thoughts… That’s the power of the film to captivate.

What makes CITIZEN KANE the film that so many herald as being the greatest in film history? Well… Quite simply… From the structure that the story is told from… the passion in every character… the wit and sharpness of the script… the absolutely brilliant cinematography…. The score, dear God the score is something that time shall never erase… Herrmann will live eternally for this, PSYCHO and NORTH BY NORTHWEST! Then there’s Robert Wise’s astounding editing.

There is simply no weak links… Not only is the story delivered to perfection, but the style, look and motion of that story is in such a breathlessly brilliant series of innovative techniques that every film that came since it, was affected…. Be it the use of overlapping dialogue, the non-linear story-telling, the composition of the frame…

But more than anything, Kane tells a story of a man driven by passions and excess that could have done it all and lived happily and justly… but had to push harder and harder… Never accepting people for who they are, but wanting to transform them into that which he saw them as..

Whether you’ve seen the film a hundred times, or have never gotten around to it… This DVD is an absolute must own now. Discover one of the greatest films ever made in a brilliant transfer and superb presentation! This is coming out in two weeks, so look for it… It’s so worth it!

Edition Details:

o Region 1 encoding (US and Canada only)

o Black & White, Closed-captioned, Dolby

o Commentary by Orson Welles biographer Peter Bogdanovich

o Commentary by Roger Ebert

o Theatrical trailer(s)

o Disc 1:

o Feature Film

o 1941 Movie Premiere Newsreel

o Gallery of storyboards, rare photos, alternate ad campaign, studio and personal correspondence, call sheets and other memorabilia

o Disc 2:

o Two-Hour Documentary: The Battle Over Citizen Kane, details the power struggle between Orson Welles and William Randolph Hearst

o Interviews with Welles, the stars of Citizen Kane and associates of Welles and Hearst

o Rare footage from Hearst's San Simeon Estate and Welles's historic The War of the Worlds broadcast

o Biographical profiles of Welles and Hearst

Readers Talkback
comments powered by Disqus
    + Expand All
  • Sept. 11, 2001, 7:55 p.m. CST

    THE landmark film of all time...its importance cannot be denied.

    by waylayer


  • Sept. 11, 2001, 8:03 p.m. CST

    Its true that life goes on but,

    by nero_3k

    is this really needed? Harry, if this is cathartic for you I can understand, but really is not something that is really important right not.

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 8:25 p.m. CST

    I think it is needed...

    by Huneybee

    Some people may wonder why we visited a movie website after hearing of the news today but it was a perfectly natural response for me. People who lost family and friends were here, too. Life does go on and I think there are quite a few out there who need the distraction. What better way to refocus us and help us to escape the constant barrage of pictures? The terrorist attacks are not gone and not forgotten, but, in order to prevent becoming jaded and numbed by the images on television, we need a respite. Thank-you, Harry.____Bee

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 8:34 p.m. CST

    Not just cathartic...

    by JamieGuy

    ...I'd say necessary. On a day when we've seen one of the ugliest human acts imaginable, we discuss one of the most beautiful things ever created. Where else can we find hope?

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 8:47 p.m. CST

    Anyone else seen Welles' THE STRANGER?

    by Cash Bailey

    That movie is so damn good. It's such a tragedy to go from the bliss of the LOTR footage reports and this review to the the most horrific act of violence in history.

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 9:07 p.m. CST

    how about using Citizen Kane as a background?

    by Amy Chasing

    Dear Harry, many thanks for removing the ID4 background you used to have on this site (not just because of the recent attrocities, but also because it's not really a worthy film to display as a film-site's background image), but reading your review on the Citizen Kane DVD I had an idea.. The film was in b&w, your background is in b&w, and the current King Kong image might be taken the wrong way by some.. So why not use an image from one of the greatest films ever made? Just an idea.

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 9:09 p.m. CST

    Thanks, Harry

    by epitone

    This is obviously one of the worst days in our history, and I really think the best way we can respond to it is by going on with our lives the best we can. Thanks, Harry, for helping us do that. The saliva-inducing images of that Citizen Kane disc are a nice break from the relentlessly depressing stuff I've been seeing today.

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 9:14 p.m. CST

    I hope Welles' unfinished films make it to DVD one day...

    by Stephen Dedalus

    I would especially love to see the version of "Don Quixote" he shot on and off over a period of fifteen years. "The Other Side of the Wind," one of the most famous uncirculated (and probably unfinished) films of all time, has Bogdonavich in an acting role and even has a young Cameron Crowe as an extra. And will they ever release Welles' shamefully underrated European films, such as the excellent "Chimes at Midnight" and "The Immortal Story," on DVD? That would be great too.

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 9:17 p.m. CST

    You wanna see Welles do Shakespeare?

    by Stephen Dedalus

    Then try and find "Chimes at Midnight." Yeah, I know, I mentioned it in my previous post, but I really need to highlight this one. Welles cast himself in the role he was born to play- Falstaff- and strung "Richard II," "Henry IV," "Henry V," and "The Merry Wives of Winsor" into one masterpiece. Great stuff.

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 9:38 p.m. CST

    ID4 background

    by Elwood Blues

    That background was from ID4???? Damn, I wish I could see it now. The king kong was obvious, but I can't for the life of me picture the old image from ID4, I need to see it! Oh, and I like the King Kong background, I say keep it. Its a classic which is pure fun, and thats the main reason why we have films, they're fun.

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 9:43 p.m. CST

    "One of" the greatest films ever made?

    by Lazarus Long

    Harry, the consensus has spoken over and over again. Polls of directors AND critics have continually given Citizen Kane the blue ribbon. Even the commercial-minded morons at the AFI didn't dare dethrone it. Its detractors only voice their negative Kane vibe so they can sound cooler than the rest of us (as if every filmmaker and filmgoer shouldn't be praying to a Welles idol daily in thanks). Don't interject your subjective "one of", because Citizen Kane will always be the film which all others are judged by. The film world will never again see as much pure genius as was present in Mr. G. Orson Welles. A 25-year old genius with nothing to lose will never again get carte blanche from a major studio for his debut film. A 25-year old genius with carte blanche will never possess the skills to act, write, produce, and direct all at once with such passion and skill. Citizen Kane was a shooting star of a film; there has been nothing like it since (Apocalyse Now comes the closest because of Coppola's free reign, but Coppola is no Welles), and I wouldn't be holding my breath watching the sky for another one. What the hell do YOU think is the best film ever, Harry? Bride of Frankenstein? RECOGNIZE!

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 9:45 p.m. CST

    I wish I ran a website so I could get free DVDs

    by IAmLegolas

    I'd save a ton of money, that's for sure!

  • Sept. 11, 2001, 10:47 p.m. CST


    by mildewproduction

    A terorist attack on the superbowl starring Ben Afleck. I forsee a push back to 2003.

  • Sept. 12, 2001, 12:23 a.m. CST

    Nero.. something to consider.

    by ILK

    I will not attack you, that would be expected here. But in light of today's events, attacking anything is the last thing on my mind. (if you find that surprising, go to church or meditate sometime.. or go back to school) But I want to say that by making our lives come to a complete stop does no service to the victims or ourselves. It only serves the perpetrators of this act. I commend Harry for choosing this as the next big news. It (as has been noted already here) gives a feeling of hope in a time when all hope seems gone. It is an example of what humanity can achieve at it's best as opposed to it's worse. I can understand people being afraid, and I can even understand people being preoccupied with repeated replaying of this horrible terrorist act. It is simply human nature. Out of all of the human responses, however, fear seems to get us into the most trouble most of the time. Fear is a response in realtion to sudden or prolonged lack of understanding. Whether that thing we do not understand is that dark shadow lurking in a house that should be empty or the fear of possible additional attacks by terrorists. In many cases we are at our worst when WE are afraid. I was depressed today when the LA County fair was cancelled. Not because I had planned to visit, but instead because it meant our lives would not be moving on. We let these people put our lives on hold. And even if it is only for a day, it does more damage than good, causes more fear than respect and does nothing for the dead or injured. Nero, I do not say these things to attack you in any way. I just would like you to consider these concepts as I have considered yours even if we do not end up being in agreement. This, I believe , is an example for everyone. Thanks. .. .ILK

  • Sept. 12, 2001, 12:50 a.m. CST


    by camshaft60


  • Sept. 12, 2001, 5:58 a.m. CST

    To ILK

    by nero_3k

    Last night, I post out of frustration. The reason more so than anything was becasue my wife was in Manhattan and I could not get her home, she is ok though. After reading the boards on another talk back I realize how lucky I am considering that some Talk Backers lost loved ones. I also realize that in the long run I probably needed Harrys review of the DVD. I was tired of crying. Hell, I realized what kind of geek I am. In a monment of overwhelming stress I run to AICN. Never intended to piss anyone off with my first post.

  • Sept. 12, 2001, 9:25 a.m. CST

    Nero... it's cool...

    by ILK

    I got the feeling you were not just another idiot. We all react to tragedy in different ways. I'm glad to hear your loved ones and friends were not hurt. On the topic of Citizen Kane, I have to say I had no idea this was coming out and I am excited to finally own what could be a decent DVD of the film. What Harry didn't mention much was the quality of the transfer. Is it astounding? Average? Does it look too clean? I have noticed some older films that have been "restored" sometimes come off as almost TOO digital. Reminds me of the SHINY look that video used to have. I wish I could come up with a better description, but I have not slept yet since yesterday morning. Take care Nero, and all....

  • Sept. 12, 2001, 9:32 a.m. CST

    Citizen Kane.....two words....Bor-ing!

    by Scaught

    Why does everyone put this movie on a pedestal and treat it like a God? It is a common fact that <i>Showgirls</i> is the single greatest movie of all time.

  • Sept. 12, 2001, 10:33 a.m. CST

    We need to stop pretending

    by Jack Burton

    Why are we suddenly terrified of portraying terrorism on screen and TV? Why would a website remove its ID4 background in favor of another? If we continue to stick our heads in the sand and eliminate mention of terrorism from entertainment, and remove shots of the World Trade Center and Pentagon from entertainment media, we are doing a disservice to the men, women , and children that have died in these tragedies. If we ignore, and try to put it out of our mind, then we will forget. We should be reminded of those buildings. This should not be "sanitized for the fragile psyches of Americans". Everytime "Friends" shows a stock footage shot of the NYC skyline, I want to see the World Trade Center when it was visible. I want to feel the anger and fear again. I do not want to forget what happened yesterday. Last night I dug out a post card I bought at the World Trade Center a few years ago. I put it up on my bookshelf to remind me of what happened. That those buildings are gone forever. This is what the terrorists want, to affect our way of life. Do not allow that, no matter how trivial the change you make may be. My heart goes out to everyone personally affected by this tragedy.

  • Sept. 12, 2001, 10:43 a.m. CST

    Yes, we need some diversion

    by MrCere

    Like everybody else here, I have been catching nearly 24-hour news coverage over the nation's crisis and I NEED a mental break from time to time. If there was a way to be in NY and help I would be, but since I cannot, I seek a little balance for me. Anyway, I was glad to read this review and I was glad yesterday to buy a LoTR cartoon DVD at my local shop. A whole hell of a lot better than nothing.

  • Sept. 12, 2001, 2:09 p.m. CST

    Kane is good, but not great

    by virkku

    I have to say that Kane was technically a very slick movie and it had great acting, but storywise the film was lacking. It didn't have much narrative drive or anything interesting happening in general. The movie felt more like an experiment on narrative style, than a story that was meant to be told in as effective and emotionally involving manner as possible. Granted, the ending was terrific, but as a whole the story didn't have much effect on me. And since to me movies are more than anything else about telling emotionally involving stories, I find it hard to declare the film as the greatest of all time. It doesn't even belong to my top 200. - - - Also, it's bullshit to claim that some film is the best of all time as "fact". Movies can't possibly be critizised in an 100% objective manner. There is ALWAYS a subjective side to it as well. Do you claim that "Yesterdays" is the greatest song of all time as "fact" only because it has won countless of polls? How the hell can you even compare that song to songs of different genres? How can you compare for example "Raiders Of The Lost Ark" to "Citizen Kane"? Isn't it obvious that they are aiming for totally different things and can't really be compared?

  • Sept. 12, 2001, 9:30 p.m. CST

    RE: Tackleberry

    by virkku

    Now you are giving too much credit for CK. Raider DID NOT copy it's premise and final shot from CK. Raiders took it's influence from old B-movie serials and it makes more sense to compare it's mcguffin for example to the holy grail and arthurian legends than CK. Both films have great final shots, but the context and content of those shots are totally different. BTW, just in case you misunderstood me, I did not claim that Raiders is a better film, the two are not comparable. I do LIKE Raiders more, but that's a whole another issue.

  • Sept. 13, 2001, 9:31 a.m. CST

    by Moonwatcher

    If it's important for us to continue with our business, then I guess it's OK for Harry to keep bringing us cool news - and few things could be cooler than this. Especially glad that he mentioned Bernard Herrmann - easily the best composer of film music who ever lived. And while the films Harry mentioned are certifiable classics, you would do well to also check out Fahrenheit 451, Mysterious Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jason and the Argonauts, Taxi Driver, and the absolutely gorgeous The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, my nominee for best score never nominated. Each of these film scores deserves special recognition.

  • Sept. 13, 2001, 9:33 a.m. CST

    Life goes on...

    by Moonwatcher

    If it's important for us to continue with our business, then I guess it's OK for Harry to keep bringing us cool news - and few things could be cooler than this. Especially glad that he mentioned Bernard Herrmann - easily the best composer of film music who ever lived. And while the films Harry mentioned are certifiable classics, you would do well to also check out Fahrenheit 451, Mysterious Island, Journey to the Center of the Earth, Jason and the Argonauts, Taxi Driver, and the absolutely gorgeous The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, my nominee for best score never nominated. Each of these film scores deserves special recognition.

  • Sept. 13, 2001, 12:55 p.m. CST

    I love these 'Kane is good, but not great' posters

    by Wee Willie

    Get a life, you 'tards.

  • Sept. 13, 2001, 1:08 p.m. CST

    Funny . . .

    by Andrew

    Talk about a coincidence, Harry. I just saw Citizen Kane for the first time on September 11, the day you're writing this. America is, for the first time, the target of a coordinated terrorist attack and I'm finally watching Citizen Kane. A day of firsts.

  • Sept. 13, 2001, 2:08 p.m. CST

    Don't get down on Harry 'cause he said 'one of'...

    by Wee Willie

    For people seriously into the cinema there's Renoir's Rules of the Game and Fellini's 8 1/2, which if they are not as great as CK, at least deserve to be mentioned in the same breath.

  • Sept. 13, 2001, 5:45 p.m. CST

    Talk back and chat

    by Sandy NYC

    One of the first things I did after the disaster was go in to AICN's chatroom. I needed to talk and I did. What ever helps use it. As far as Citizen Kane goes I can't believe you can call yourself a film fan and not have seen this movie. Even if you hate it you must see it.

  • Sept. 13, 2001, 11:57 p.m. CST

    RE: Wee Willie

    by virkku

    A QUOTE FROM WEE WILLIE: "I love these 'Kane is good, but not great' posters. Get a life, you 'tards." - - - RE: I'm sure everyone appreciates your input in this talkback. After all it's a sign of great intelligence to call people who disagree w

  • Sept. 16, 2001, 2:29 p.m. CST

    Hail tha Citizen

    by badnigga

    Who's that bad ass blockin' down yo street? Its KANE! Word, I'm back! Betta than ever and ready to shock you out bridge over troubled water style! I got two guns loaded and I'm headin' fo town, I got three bitches waitin for me when I get out! This is gonna be a fuckin' DVD if I ever saw one! Two mothafuckin discs! SHIT! That'll be fuckin' my black ass up worse than tha chronic MC Bells dropped on me last night! Word to my dirty!

  • Sept. 18, 2001, 8:47 a.m. CST

    The background was ID4? I always suspected that it was a Xerox o

    by Chthonico

    Ok, so I was wrong...

  • Sept. 19, 2001, 11:14 p.m. CST

    Citizen Cohn is the greatest film ever.

    by maplebob

    That James Woods. What an actor! But seriously remember that scene in Kane where he's trying to pull down those shelves? Now, that's one of the all-time most hilarious moments in film history.

  • Sept. 19, 2001, 11:17 p.m. CST

    Also I saw The Stranger

    by maplebob

    That movie is the bomb yo! Edward G. Robinson is the rad in it. Welles rocks it to the max as a dirty Nazy.

  • Sept. 20, 2001, 4:07 p.m. CST

    Citizen Kane

    by Citizen Bill

    I don't care what anyone thinks, Citizen Kane , is the greatest Movie ever made !

  • Sept. 22, 2001, 11:13 a.m. CST

    I'm definitely gonna have to pick this one up now.

    by WesReviews

    Great flick that sounds like a great DVD. Can't wait to pick it up. ------- Horror and Non-Horror fans unite...

  • Sept. 27, 2001, 10:23 a.m. CST

    Nice review Harry but somethings missing from this site:

    by Bluntman420

    I call it the Simpsons DVD review. KANE is monumental, i know. But Simpsons ON DVD is such a gr8 idea i'm surprised it wasn't made earlier. In conclusion: GIMME GIMME GIMME SIMPSONS.