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JulyDiaz

Citizen Kane

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I haven’t seen seen Yankee Doodle Dandy, either. I was going to pick it for Musical Mondays but went with Blue Hawaii instead. I failed us both...

I'll just assume you knew this podcast was coming and knew we'd get to it here. Because I'm honestly still not considering it for my short list.

 

AFI also did other lists and had covered the top 25 American musicals too. So, there is always one of these selections: http://letterboxd.com/rogere/list/afis-greatest-musicals/

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Out of curiosity, where is everyone at with the AFI list?

 

Currently, I’m at 74 on the 1998 list and 81 on the 10th Anniversary list.

I thought I had more but I am at 60 and 64 respectively. I mean I know that I haven't watched a lot of the older ones like Yankee Doodle Dandy and Swing Time but I guess the most shocking one that I haven't watched is Rocky. I think I know so much about it that I feel like I've seen it and just never bothered. Oddly I've seen most of the sequels.

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Out of curiosity, where is everyone at with the AFI list?

 

Currently, I’m at 74 on the 1998 list and 81 on the 10th Anniversary list.

Damn, I'm behind. I'm at 55 on the 2007 list. Most are from the old B&W/silent era but there are a couple, like Lawrence, Network, and Ben-Hur that I'm a bit ashamed to admit never seeing, but like Paul with CK, I felt like they were ubiquitous enough to say that I basically get the gist. I know I'm way wrong about that but ...

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I thought I had more but I am at 60 and 64 respectively. I mean I know that I haven't watched a lot of the older ones like Yankee Doodle Dandy and Swing Time but I guess the most shocking one that I haven't watched is Rocky. I think I know so much about it that I feel like I've seen it and just never bothered. Oddly I've seen most of the sequels.

 

I had watched all the sequels first, too. I would argue that they are definitely "fun" movies, the original is legit great.

 

Damn, I'm behind. I'm at 55 on the 2007 list. Most are from the old B&W/silent era but there are a couple, like Lawrence, Network, and Ben-Hur that I'm a bit ashamed to admit never seeing, but like Paul with CK, I felt like they were ubiquitous enough to say that I basically get the gist. I know I'm way wrong about that but ...

 

I haven't seen Ben-Hur yet (I have, however, seen the one that came out last year), so I'm looking forward to that. I just saw Lawrence of Arabia last year, and it was freaking incredible.

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I haven't seen Ben-Hur yet (I have, however, seen the one that came out last year), so I'm looking forward to that. I just saw Lawrence of Arabia last year, and it was freaking incredible.

I second this. I watched it as well not that long after Cameron and I was blown away by Lawrence of Arabia. Words fail me for how great of a movie it was. I would say the same about The Treasure of the Sierra Madre which I also watched late last year.

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I second this. I watched it as well not that long after Cameron and I was blown away by Lawrence of Arabia. Words fail me for how great of a movie it was. I would say the same about The Treasure of the Sierra Madre which I also watched late last year.

 

Sierra Madre was really, really good. Intolerance made me want to throw my laptop out of a window.

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76 from the 1998 list.

 

81 from the Anniversary list!

 

Though on some of these I'm unsure what "counts." I feel like I've seen all of Gone with the Wind, but maybe just in pieces over the years. I'm not sure I've actually sat down to watch it straight through. But I also have vague memories of maybe having to watch it over several days in a classroom or something?

 

Anyway, I'm still not sure why Forrest Gump is on both of these lists.

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I second this. I watched it as well not that long after Cameron and I was blown away by Lawrence of Arabia. Words fail me for how great of a movie it was. I would say the same about The Treasure of the Sierra Madre which I also watched late last year.

My 2-year-old accidentally rented Treasure of the Sierra Madre when she had gotten ahold of the Firestick remote, so we watched it and I loved it. Again, it's one of those that you don't realize gets referenced everywhere.

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Anyway, I'm still not sure why Forrest Gump is on both of these lists.

 

Oh, I have questions about a few of the movies on these lists. The Sixth Sense? Really?

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Oh, I have questions about a few of the movies on these lists. The Sixth Sense? Really?

 

I kind of understand Forrest Gump making the 1998 list, since that was just a few years after it was a big smash hit that won all the Oscars. But by 2007 I thought people had largely figured out that it wasn't quite the modern classic we'd originally assumed.

 

And yeah, nominating Sixth Sense after Shyamalan's career had started to hit the skids also seems weird. Maybe it wouldn't have made it if they'd voted after The Happening.

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I think Shakespeare is a perfect comparison to Citizen Kane. I go to the theater quite often, and there are many things I would probably rather sit through than Shakespeare, but you can't deny how good most of Shakespeare's work is ... every line is both revelatory of the speaker and well-wrought as an English sentence. Plus his every work is ubiquitous in culture ... you'll find references to it everywhere.

 

Just to get back to this . . . oh boy yes is Citizen Kane hugely Shakespearean. For most of the supporting characters you can draw an obvious analogue to someone from Macbeth or Hamlet.

 

Jed = Banquo

Susan = Ophelia

Bernstein = Horatio

Thatcher = Claudius

 

Fundamentally the story is a Shakespearean tragedy, just updated to a modern setting (or modern to the time it was made) and told in non-linear fashion. Welles certainly had a fascination with that kind of figure, given the Shakespeare movies he made later. It's interesting how he wanted to do "old man" characters even when he was young.

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A pretty good start to an interesting concept for a podcast.

 

Regarding your twin surprise at Susan's singing voice: I must say I've never heard anyone think Susan Alexander's singing "wasn't that bad!". To my ears--and those of everyone with whom I've ever seen the film--Susan's singing was obviously quite bad--at least by tough opera standards (and I know very little about opera!). Sure, maybe she's better than Roseanne on the mound, but Charles was 'forcing' a woman with sub-par skills to humiliate herself every night in front of people who knew exactly how far she was falling short. Even the 'working class' stagehands could tell how bad she was. It's the entire motivation for her suicide attempt...

 

The way I saw it she definitely has some raw talent, but she doesn’t necessarily have the chops - nor the desire - to go pro. It’s like you can be a funny person but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have what it takes to be a comedian.

 

She was good singer in a “singing for friends in the parlor” kind of way.

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I also didn't care for Citizen Kane when I saw it as a child (because it was on the AFI list). I didn't care for Gone With the Wind or Lawrence of Arabia either.

 

I was surprised neither Amy nor Paul had seen How Green Was My Valley or even knew it was in black & white (there were separate cinematography awards when color became more common but b&w hadn't died out).

 

(As an aside, it's easy to forget that Hearst was an avowed fascist who once said, "Whenever you hear a prominent American called a fascist, you can usually make up your mind that the man is simply a loyal citizen who stands up for Americanism.")

I couldn't find that quote on Hearst's wikipedia/wikiquotes page, and none of the searching I've done has come up with a primary source. I did find Stephen Gottlieb's "Unfit for Democracy" citing Jonathan Alter's "The Defining Moment" (which notes that Hearst lumped his opponents in with Mussolini & Hitler after turning against FDR). Hearst did seem to endorse dictatorship in "Gabriel Over the White House" (prior to his shift* against FDR), but I'm skeptical he ever avowed himself to be a fascist. Part of my skepticism is due to Hearst already being known for apocryphally saying "You supply the pictures and I'll supply the war", which makes no sense in the actual context of the Spanish-American war (I suppose the Kane-derived idea that his mistress was an untalented actress is another bit).

*Rodney Carlisle denied that there was any significant change in Hearst's fundamental views, while acknowledging that like a number of turn-of-the-century Progressives he became something of a crank in old age.

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The way I saw it she definitely has some raw talent, but she doesn’t necessarily have the chops - nor the desire - to go pro. It’s like you can be a funny person but that doesn’t necessarily mean you have what it takes to be a comedian.

 

She was good singer in a “singing for friends in the parlor” kind of way.

 

Yes, I think that's how it's played. She's a good singer who can carry a tune, but she's not a top-shelf opera singer . . . not even close.

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Paul mentioned in the episode that he was initially put off by the film’s structure, and I totally get that. However, what I did like - although I didn’t necessarily appreciate at the time - was the opening news reel. Yes, it was an exposition dump, but when the movie gets going in earnest, it proved to be a sort of Rosetta Stone, allowing the audience to grasp where they are in Kane’s life without interrupting the flow of the movie. By getting it out of the way at the top - in a type of bulletpoint-y way that wouldn’t have seemed entirely alien to it’s contemporary audience - it allowed the movie to unfold more organically and shift its focus to where it needed to be while providing a bit of dramatic irony.

 

 

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Paul mentioned in the episode that he was initially put off by the film’s structure, and I totally get that. However, what I did like - although I didn’t necessarily appreciate at the time - was the opening news reel. Yes, it was an exposition dump, but when the movie gets going in earnest, it proved to be a sort of Rosetta Stone, allowing the audience to grasp where they are in Kane’s life without interrupting the flow of the movie. By getting it out of the way at the top - in a type of bulletpoint-y way that wouldn’t have seemed entirely alien to it’s contemporary audience - it allowed the movie to unfold more organically and shift its focus to where it needed to be while providing a bit of dramatic irony.

 

It's a brilliant Brechtian device: foregrounding the actual plot of the movie so that the audience pays attention to the "why" instead of the "what." I'd also note that the movie certainly makes the same point Joel did here:

 

And that's where the comparison sticks with me, Kane is unambiguously American.

 

 

It's all right there up front for you, but the movie still feels like a mystery where you're trying to find something. That's what makes it so great.

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I always dread when this film gets brought up online because of the baggage that has been placed on it because of its reputation as "Greatest Film Of All-Time". I think many people take that into the film and approach it with an attitude of "PROVE IT!". No film can really stand up to that scrutiny and without fail there are always those who dismiss the film as "overrated" or even worse "boring".

 

Overrated is a flimsy critique because it isn't really a critique of the film it is a critique of how other people feel about it. And I have a hard time understanding how anyone can be bored by Kane, it is just so thoroughly entertaining. Some classic films (even films I love dearly) can feel like eating you're vegetables but this isn't one of those films. While it is very much a great artistic achievement at the end of the day Welles was a showman (remember he dabbled in Magic) and he wanted to reach the masses. This is a film that is aiming for a mainstream audience.

 

I love, love, love this film. Is it the greatest of all time? No because I don't feel there can be any greatest of all-time. But if you insist on naming one you can't do any better than Citizen Kane.

 

 

Edit: One more thing...

 

If you want to check out a really great Marion Davies film that shows off how talented of a comedic actress she was I highly recommend "The Patsy". A fantastic film.

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I always dread when this film gets brought up online because of the baggage that has been placed on it because of its reputation as "Greatest Film Of All-Time". I think many people take that into the film and approach it with an attitude of "PROVE IT!". No film can really stand up to that scrutiny and without fail there are always those who dismiss the film as "overrated" or even worse "boring".

I think thats the case with a lot of "greatest X of all time" and I'm pretty sure I approached Citizen Kane the same way when I first saw it.

 

I had to get up super early to watch it on tv before you could stream everything. It was something like 5 or 6 in the morning in college. So, I was very "This had better be worth it." It won me over during the first view.

 

I'm curious how other people reacted to this on their first view. Did you think it lived up to the hype?

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Overrated is a flimsy critique because it isn't really a critique of the film it is a critique of how other people feel about it.

 

It's long been my opinion that "overrated" is the single worst word to use in artistic criticism.

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I'm curious how other people reacted to this on their first view. Did you think it lived up to the hype?

Prior to watching Citizen Kane, I'd only seen 20 of AFI's Top 100. I listened to the oldies station when I was young, and love You Must Remember This, so this glaring cinematic blind spot can only be explained by having prioritized other media (TV as a kid, video games in my 20s, podcasts in my 30s.) I plan to remedy this by watching along with Unspooled.

 

I went into the film with the assumption that its legendary status was earned via writing and performances, so I was surprised to find I was most riveted by the cinematography. The long camera movements, the way the actors played between light and shadow, and the sense of "heft" in the environments felt remarkable even by today's standards. (The sometimes claustrophobic darkness/post-Art Deco New York/themes about the downfall of Great Men felt very

, though, so maybe I was predisposed to enjoy it.)
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Out of curiosity, where is everyone at with the AFI list?

 

Currently, I’m at 74 on the 1998 list and 81 on the 10th Anniversary list.

I have not seen Birth of a Nation or Giant all the way through. (I saw parts of Birth in a college class and parts of Giant on TV but it always looks awful)

 

When I was in college I went to a revival house at least once a week, mostly seeing double features, which could be tough, like the double feature of 2001 and Clockwork Orange.

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I have not seen Birth of a Nation or Giant all the way through. (I saw parts of Birth in a college class and parts of Giant on TV but it always looks awful)

 

When I was in college I went to a revival house at least once a week, mostly seeing double features, which could be tough, like the double feature of 2001 and Clockwork Orange.

 

I love Giant! Although, I’m not a huge fan of 2001 or Clockwork, so yeah, that double feature would be tough. :)

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I have not seen Birth of a Nation or Giant all the way through. (I saw parts of Birth in a college class and parts of Giant on TV but it always looks awful)

 

When I was in college I went to a revival house at least once a week, mostly seeing double features, which could be tough, like the double feature of 2001 and Clockwork Orange.

I like Giant but can definitely see it coming across pretty bad seeing it in parts.

 

I'm very glad Birth Of A Nation isn't on the updated AFI list. It's even more racist than its reputation. It's also the very first DVD I got through Netflix.

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I like Giant but can definitely see it coming across pretty bad seeing it in parts.

 

I'm very glad Birth Of A Nation isn't on the updated AFI list. It's even more racist than its reputation. It's also the very first DVD I got through Netflix.

 

You probably know this already, but the 10th Anniversary List replaced Birth of a Nation with Intolerance. I guess AFI felt like D.W. Griffith had to be represented on the list somewhere and Intolerance was the less controversial choice..?

 

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You probably know this already, but the 10th Anniversary List replaced Birth of a Nation with Intolerance. I guess AFI felt like D.W. Griffith had to be represented on the list somewhere and Intolerance was the less controversial choice..?

I didn't care much for Intolerance when I saw it but it's certainly less controversial. If they had to include Griffith, I might have picked Orphans In The Storm or Broken Blossoms but the latter is still kind of racist. If I recall, the intentions are good but the 1910s were not a great time for portraying Chinese people in American film.

 

How did the AFI list get made for the anniversary? The original was a list of 400-500 nominated movies then voted on by industry people. Was the anniversary list the same?

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