Citizen Kane, January 8th, 1941: Hearst vs. Welles-Kane in Heavyweight Tilt, a shameful, ignominious defeat for W-K.


Orson Welles

William Randolph Hearst

kane poster.A - Copy

Orson Welles was at his best when his art created controversy, we see that in practical application with his 1938 radio production of “The War of the Worlds”, gendering panic at the most and at the least confusion. Then with his first film project (his best and maybe the best period), “Citizen Kane”, 1941, Welles brought the wrath of William Randolph Hearst down upon the shoulders of his first venture into the movies; January 8th began his battle with the newspaper titan, which he would lose.

Hearst wielded considerable power in print, forbidding his papers to carry Kane, also, he pressured (blackmailed) certain of Hollywood that particular stories that had been held from print as favors would now be released if Kane were supported. Some movie house chains would not show Kane and with little advertising available Citizen was destined to gain few attentions early on. In a year that Citizen Kane should have swept the Oscars, it won but one and when its nominations were announced at the 1942 Academy Awards, it and Welles were booed. Welles had made no secret of his disdain for Hollywood and now Tinseltown made no effort to champion the erstwhile stage and radio auteur. Yet, Citizen Kane in the end (nigh unto 25 years) won the rematch and of course is recognized as one of the finest moving-pictures ever produced if not the grandest of all that our eyes have seen of the flickering images.

For a film that did not have its premier until May 1st, 1941 (New York City) and general release until September 5th of that same year, Welles-Kane found, on that early January day, that battling giants, like tilting with windmills, makes you liable to get whacked and knocked from your steed; and so it went in January of 1941 for Orson Welles and his finest film, beaten, before the bell rung and the bout begun.


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