(NEW YORK) — It’s still considered by many to be the greatest American film ever made. Seventy-five years ago today, Citizen Kane premiered in New York City.
Orson Welles stars in the film as media magnate Charles Foster Kane, a powerful but ultimately tragic character he based in part on real-life newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, who was alive at the time and unsuccessfully attempted to block the movie’s release.
Making Citizen Kane more remarkable is the fact Welles not only starred in the film, he also produced, directed and co-wrote it — all while in his mid-twenties. He turned 26 just five days after the New York premiere.
Though Hearst failed to block Citizen Kane’s release, the pressure he brought did persuade some theaters not to show the film, which negatively affected its box office performance when it was released nationally September 5. Reviews, however, were largely positive — ironically, fueled in no small part by the pre-release controversy. It was nominated for nine Academy Awards but took home only one, for Best Original Screenplay, which Welles shared with Herman Mankiewicz.
In the decades since, Citizen Kane’s fame and reputation has grown, with countless scholars and critics both studying and praising it. The Library of Congress added Citizen Kane to the National Film Registry in 1989, in its inaugural group of additions. It’s even been featured on a U.S. postage stamp, twice.
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