Herman J. Mankiewicz is trying to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane and has 2 months to do it.
So it was 2020, and like everyone else we were locked up at home. We had started a Saturday Zoom movie night with CoyoteRambles, and alternated choosing movies, and (being a classic movie buff and cinematography blogger) he picked this one.
Now, Mr. Otter and I have been Netflix subscribers from the beginning, back when you could only get DVDs in the mail…we have watched a bunch of tv series on Netflix…but this was the point when we realized that not only do Netflix and Amazon make movies, they make GOOD movies! And our lives were forever changed.
But I digress.
I have never liked the movie Citizen Kane. I watched it once as a young Otter and thought it was kinda stupid…but I do like stuff about early Hollywood, so I was totally down for this.
And it was excellent, even though I found a lot of discussion online about this movie not being historically accurate-evidently there are voluminous records of Welles’ writing the Kane script from the 250 page tome he received from Mankiewicz, rather than M whipping the whole thing into shape himself; they share the Best Screenplay Oscar that came of their collaboration. Aside from that, though, this is an amazing movie.
Gary Oldman plays the eponymous title character (I do love that word. Eponymous. Eponymous. Eponymous.) in his usual brilliant style; his Mank is bitter, alcoholic and acerbic. He sees everything going on around him through a dark lens, and there’s plenty to see. Upton Sinclair is running for Governor in California as a socialist, the Great Depression is in full swing, William Randolph Hearst owns most of the newspapers in the country (which means he owns the press, and can print or not print what he wants, in a time when everyone got their information from newspapers.)
And aside from politics, it’s 1930s Hollywood, and there’s plenty going on there too, especially with Marion Davies, Hearst’s mistress, wanting to be a star and him doing his best to make her one.
This movie was a joy to watch, not only for its view of the time, not only for how well written and acted it is, but also for how beautifully it was filmed. It isn’t just an excellent movie, it’s GORGEOUS.
If you haven’t seen it, seriously, watch it now, you won’t be sorry.