Orson Welles Hermine Rich Isaacs - Essay

Hermine Rich Isaacs

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

[Citizen Kane is] an exciting work, vital and imaginative, full of the unbridled energy which Orson Welles brings to every new medium he invades. As in all Mr. Welles' ventures, it is free of the bonds of precedent, but there is always a compensating sense of what is appropriate to the medium. It is another success in this year's stream of successful 'one-man pictures'. And just as Orson Welles, producer and director, deserves credit for the excellence of Citizen Kane, Orson Welles, coauthor …, and Orson Welles, actor, must be held responsible for the fact that it falls short of greatness. (p. 427)

It is the same familiar tale from every angle, this story of a shallow and arrogant newspaper owner and man of wealth, whose craze for power and the admiration of the world leads him into headstrong and unscrupulous dealings with everyone about him; until at last he has lost all his friends, even the second wife whom he loved in his way, and retires to die in lonely splendor among his fabulous objects d'art, in his castle on a man-made hill.

It is also, when it has all been told, the picture of a man who is really not worth depicting, and here is the film's weakness. Citizen Kane depends for its importance on implications which are external to the movie itself. It acquires a sort of reflected significance from the fact that it might be about a living man of whom we all know, a man who not only loves...

(The entire section is 402 words.)