Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles), an unimaginably wealthy publishing kingpin, drops his snowglobe and dies alone in his bed. His last dying word, “Rosebud,” sends the national newspaper journalists into a frenzy, all eager to discover it’s true meaning, in the hope of shedding some light onto the tycoon. Led by Jerry Thompson (William Alland), the reporters speak with Kane’s former wife, friends, employees, business partner and butler on their search for the truth. Could it be the name of a girl? A dog? A boat? Or just the rambling ravings of an insane old man?
Up until last year, Citizen Kane has topped Sight and Sound magazine’s Greatest Film Of All Time list, but was recently toppled by Vertigo. It’s been a little while since I’ve seen Hitchcock’s classic, so I can’t vouch for whether the change is correct or not, but I can say that I have no problem with Citizen Kane having been up there for quite so long. This film actually appears on all four of the lists I’m currently working through, and so great is its reputation that I can’t imagine a respected film list denying it a place. I mean, it spawned the prefix “It’s the Citizen Kane of…” as a way of saying a film is the greatest of a specific type. And heads up, this isn’t going to be the Citizen Kane of Citizen Kane reviews. So what makes it so important? Why is it revered by so many people? Will every paragraph in this review end in a question mark?