Cit­i­zen Kane: A Filmmaker’s Jour­ney

au­thor har­lan lebo / out now

Empire (UK) - - REVIEW - ian freer

Leg­end has it Or­son Welles learned to read at the age of two, dis­cussed pol­i­tics at three and wrote his first play at nine. it’s not sur­pris­ing, then, that Welles, aged just 25, went on to write, di­rect, pro­duce and star in ar­guably the great­est Film Of all time.

al­ready the au­thor of cof­fee-ta­ble book Cit­i­zen Kane: The Fifti­eth-an­niver­sary

Al­bum, har­lan Lebo has writ­ten this text-heav­ier cel­e­bra­tion for its 75th birth­day, di­vid­ing his anal­y­sis be­tween two un­even sec­tions. the first is a soup-to-nuts ‘mak­ing of’; the sec­ond is a col­lec­tion of in­ter­views, scene-by-scene break­downs and ephemera for ev­ery­one’s in­ner film stu­dent. taken to­gether, they rep­re­sent a thor­ough and en­ter­tain­ing en­try into the crowded Kane li­brary.

Lebo doesn’t skimp on the two big bat­tles that book­end the film’s cre­ation. the scram­ble for credit over who wrote the screen­play, Welles or her­man J. Mankiewicz, is cov­ered with a deep dive into pre­vi­ous drafts, dropped ti­tles

(Amer­i­can; John Cit­i­zen USA) and the nitty-gritty of who wrote what. equally sat­is­fy­ing is Lebo’s ac­count of Wil­liam Ran­dolph hearst’s at­tempts to quash Kane, ar­gu­ing it was a thinly veiled at­tack on his life. the un­der­hand tac­tics started at ca­jol­ing MGM to black­list stars who at­tended Kane’s pre­miere, then de­scended to plant­ing a 14 year-old girl in the direc­tor’s closet, with two pho­tog­ra­phers wait­ing to pounce.

Like J. W. Rin­zler’s Star Wars books, this makes great use of production re­ports (40 per cent of Kane’s shots con­tain spe­cial ef­fects), memos and fi­nan­cial records (ac­tor everett sloane, who played Mr. Bern­stein, re­ceived $2,400 to shave his head) in a foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Welles’ au­da­cious film­mak­ing. Be­hindthe-scenes leg­ends such as com­poser Bernard her­rmann and cin­e­matog­ra­pher gregg toland get their due, but Lebo also cel­e­brates un­sung heroes in­clud­ing make-up artist Mau­rice sei­der­man, who made Welles look younger by us­ing a fish-skin pros­thetic. the book lacks the rich­ness and in­sights of si­mon Cal­low’s

The Road To Xanadu, but emerges as a crisp, clear-eyed, romp through Kane his­tory. Per­fect for the pre­co­cious two-year-old in your life.

Welles on the set of Cit­i­zen Kane with co-star Joseph Cot­ten.

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