This Week In Literature: Citizen Kane
“I don’t think any word can explain a man’s life.”
― Orson Welles, Citizen Kane
Citizen Kane premiered May 1, 1941 in New York’s Palace Theater. Orson Welles was the producer, co-screenwriter, director and star. It was his first feature film.
“Citizen Kane” is the semi-biographical story of the life and legacy of Charles Foster Kane, based on newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, tycoons Samuel Insull and Harold McCormick and parts of Welles’s own life. The story is told through the eyes of a reporter seeking to solve the mystery of the newspaper magnate’s dying word, “Rosebud.”
Although it achieve critical success – including nine Academy Award nominations, and was recognized by both the British Film Institute, American Film Institute, National Film Preservation Board and is considered one of greatest films of all times – it did not do well at the box office.
“Citizen Kane” has endured for over 75 years. How much do you know about this film classic?
Orson Welles was just 25 years old when he directed, co-wrote, starred in and produced Citizen Kane.
Citizen Kane was the feature film debut of Ray Collins, Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead and Everett Sloane — and Welles himself.
Although nominated for nine Academy Awards®, Citizen Kane only won Best Screenplay.
The 1942 Best Picture Oscar went to John Ford’s How Green Was Your Valley, not Citizen Kane. Coincidentally, Welles modeled shots in Citizen Kane after some of Ford’s work.
In the opening scene, a dying Kane whispers the pivotal line “Rosebud.” “Rosebud” ranks #17 on American Film Institute’s 100 top film quotes of all time.
In 1975, 34 years after the release of Citizen Kane, Welles was honored with the third American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award. He was the first actor/director to receive the award.
Citizen Kane is part of the library’s extensive DVD collection, which includes film classics, titles from the Criterion Collection, National Film Registry, the American Film Institute (AFI), Academy Award winners, as well as a large selection of popular PBS shows such as Doc Martin, Downton Abbey, documentaries, and biographical films from the American Masters series. A large selection of DVD mysteries, with an emphasis on book-based series, can be found at the Warrenton central library. Stop by and browse, explore the collection online at or speak to a reference librarian.