|Orson Welles (Liev Schreiber) & Herman Mankiewicz (John Malkovich)|
toast their "success" in RKO 281. Credit: HBO Pictures.
RKO 281: The OTHER Citizen Kane
This is a "sequel" I watch more often than the original. Maybe 'cause it's faster moving & more amusing.
A young Orson Welles (Liev Schreiber), following on his success/fame in the New York City show business world, goes to Hollywood & signs up with RKO Radio Pictures. After some fits & starts, he settles on doing a thinly veiled expose' of publishing magnate William Randolph Hearst & his power brokering ways (This supposedly stemming from the two trading barbs at a party at the Hearst "castle". I think there had to be more to it than that.). With a treasure trove of related notes by his reluctant friend, writer Herman J. Mankiewicz (John Malkovich) he sets out to create one of cinema historys' great masterworks.
This made for HBO film does devote some time to the making of Citizen Kane, but the main attraction is in the aftermath. Mr. Hearst was definitely not happy with the finished product & did what he could to suppress it, preassuring one & all in Hollywood. Going so far as to blackmail some of the biggest names in cinema.
The conflict between Welles & Hearst (Two opponents not unlike one another.) is "offset" by the conflicts in front of, behind, & off camera. Melanie Griffith is great as Marion Davies counter to James Cromwells' Hearst. Schreibers' Welles is seen as a relentless prick, casually putting friends, actors & crew in danger & even resorting to violence.
As with all "docudramas", I would not rely on this film as an historical document. The actual documentary it's based on, The Battle Over Citizen Kane would be more appropriate.
It goes without saying, watching Citizen Kane is mandatory before seeing this film. RKO 281 is a fun watch & makes a great companion film to Kane. With this & Warners' Citizen Kane two disc special edition (With all the extras including the aforementioned documentary.), you can take an all afternoon Kaning.
If you don't have it, grab it & put it on the shelf next to Kane.
Article copyright © 7-13-2011 Jay Agan
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