by Jesse Marinoff Reyes :
… American cinema’s one-time enfante terrible, and one of Hollywood’s most enigmatic stars—making him one of my all-time favorites—we take a look at some graphic expressions of his most famous film, the European-inflected CITIZEN KANE, written, directed, co-produced, and starring, Orson Welles.
As you may recall, Kane, a megamaniacal expression of American capitalism (original working title, The American) was crafted upon the personas of Robert McCormick, Howard Hughes, and Joseph Pulitzer—but especially through Welles’s screenwriter, Herman J. Mankiewicz (who worked up Welles’ storyline and characters with John Houseman), most evocative of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst.
A preview screening of the film attended by gossip columnist Hedda Hopper made her realize the film, though thinly veiled, was based on aspects of Heart’s life and reported back to him. Hearst retaliated and began a campaign to suppress the film—including using blackmail, threatening to expose 15 years worth of suppressed scandals, ramping up anti-Semitism as regards the studios bosses being Jewish, intimidating theatre chains (who advertised in Hearst’s papers nation-wide) and on and on.
It mostly worked. Though being well-received critically and nominated for nine Academy Awards, it won only one for best screenplay (Mankiewicz and Welles) and did not turn a profit (at the time) for the studio. However, its long-term influence was substantial. Now considered one of the greatest films ever made, especially as regards American cinema, it was seen by a later generation of film critics, particularly French critics like François Truffaut, who saw it as an expression of auteurship, the “auteur theory,” that the filmmaker was the “author” of a film. Motivated by this concept, Truffaut and others filmmakers like Jean-Luc Godard were inspired to create their own films, launching the Nouvelle Vague, the French New Wave.