A Pictorial History of the Movies: 1941 – Citizen Kane

Today and tomorrow are going to be two of the easiest articles I’ve ever written.

I’m making a list of the films I feel are the most iconic films of the year they came out.

This year is 1941.

Citizen Kane came out in 1941.

The end.

I really should end my article here, but I promised I’d at least try to write something. So let’s see what I can come up with for this one.

Just about every list of the greatest films ever made will include this one. And they’re right. The film is amazing. Welles made it when he was 26. I turned 26 13 days ago. All I have going for me is Fun with Franchises.

Somehow, with this movie, Orson Welles was told, “Do whatever you want.” So he did. He decided he wanted to make a movie about William Randolph Hearst. And this was the result. More important than the story (and its famous MacGuffin) are the storytelling techniques he used. Deep focus, gorgeous cinematography, unconventional camera placements, the use of montages and fades that really work brilliantly and tie everything together. This kind of filmmaking is better than what people do now. And I’m dead serious about that.

I also find it funny that Hollywood gave in to Hearst’s backlash when the film was released. He threatened them all if they supported the film, and he did everything he could (and this is a man who started a war, back in the day, with his newspaper) to prevent the film from coming out. And everyone was afraid to cross him. So the film barely opened, despite incredible reviews. And it got to the point where, they deliberately didn’t give it OSCARS because of Hearst. All it won was Screenplay. And apparently, when the name was called out as a nominee, the crowd booed. Which is fucking crazy. They feared Hearst so much that they tried to not get the movie seen, and deliberately didn’t give it awards because they thought he’d retaliate. Meanwhile now, if that happened, the exact opposite would happen. And everyone would go see it out of spite.

Which is kind of nice. Because fuck rich white guys.

Anyway… this is the only real choice of 1941. Maybe Sergeant York can be considered a possibility. Outside of that, there really aren’t any choices you could consider as truly “representing” 1941.

Oh, I know how to end this…

Here’s an article I wrote two years ago about how Citizen Kane contains one of the great underrated comedy scenes in all of cinema. (Hint: It’s about vaginas.)


One response

  1. You could actually make an argument (advanced over at the Nighthawk News blog) that The Maltese Falcon is the real beginning of film noir, and use that as the film of the year.

    September 16, 2014 at 10:17 pm

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