Young Orson Welles had the world on a string in 1940. The wunderkind of radio, stage, and screen had already created a national stir with his all-black postmodern production of Othello and the 1938 War of the Worlds broadc... more »ast. With Citizen Kane, he set his sights on one of the most powerful men in America: William Randolph Hearst. Little did he realize the consequences that his film would bring about. Hearst had staggering amounts of money and influence that he could bring to bear on Welles and RKO Studios. Particularly offensive to the newspaper tycoon was Welles's portrayal of his longtime paramour, Marion Davies; Citizen Kane showed the actress as a talentless numbskull and a lush, and painted their relationship in unflattering terms. Hearst offered huge sums of money to buy the negative of Kane so that he could burn it; when the studio released the film anyway, he pulled RKO advertising from all Hearst newspapers. With gossip columnist Louella Parsons as his attack dog, he threatened to publicize all sorts of suppressed scandals from over the years, and hinted that "the American public won't be happy to know the number of Jews in the movie industry."The collision between the 19th-century Hearst and the modern genius and upstart Welles proved to be disastrous to both men for both their names and their careers. Not until years later did Kane receive its due as one of the greatest films ever produced, vindicating itself and Welles both. This documentary provides rare insights into the lives and legacies of Welles and Hearst, carefully framing the debate over the film in the context of the times. Commentary by directors Peter Bogdanovich and Robert Wise (who served as editor for Kane) as well as the son of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz helps bring home the controversy as it applied to the world of Hollywood. --Jerry Renshaw« less
"Isn't The Battle Over Citizen Kane included in the 2-disc Citizen Kane? If I'm right, why buy the doc when you get it with the movie? Sorry, but I saw Kane and Battle were paired as recommended package deal. That makes no sense to me."
A classic documentary of a classic film.
E. Martin | US | 10/11/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This documentary is more than just a rendition of the controversy surrounding "Citizen Kane," it is a pair of parallel biographies of the two men. (Everyone knows about the "War of the Worlds" broadcast, but how many know about his successes on stage--"Julius Caesar" on Broadway commenting darkly on the rise of fascism, or "MacBeth" set in Haiti with an all-black cast.) In the end, it poses the question of whether "Kane" is after all, as much about Welles as it is about Hearst. Time and time again Welles tempts fate, risking disaster to create masterpieces. Star of stage and radio, film with its limitless possibilities (and Hollywood with its machinations) prove his undoing. Watch and see how perilously close to losing arguably the greatest film ever made. Watch and see why Welles is still a legendary figure whose measure is still be taken."
A Good but overall disappointing documentary
weirdo_87 | Rancho Cucamonga, CA USA | 10/16/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I watched this documentary as part of the Citizen Kane DVD. It is good, telling about the power struggle between Orson Welles and William Randolph Hearst. I also never knew before just how much Welles and Herman J. Mankewickz borrowed from Hearst's life when they wrote the Citizen Kane screenplay. But though it was supposed to be about Citizen Kane, the documentary didn't tell that much about the film itself. It was also rather slow and repetitive. How many times do I need to know that Hearst was a powerful man or that Welles was a young genius? I wanted to learn more about the movie itself. The extras were also nil, there being only a chapter selection and ads for other documentaries..."
Now you have the whole story
jenbird | Havertown, PA | 01/07/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've seen "Citizen Kane" dozens of times over the years, and had a general idea of who the film was really about (Hearst) and the controversy it created. After watching "The Battle Over Citizen Kane," however, I now feel that I have a much better understanding not only of the movie itself, but the full story of the two men locked in battle over it---Orson Welles and William Randolph Hearst. This documentary provides a generous amount of personal information about both men, and comments from experts in relevant fields (Hearst biographers, etc.) as well as people who knew Welles personally. If you're a fan of "Citizen Kane," this companion piece is not to be missed."
M. Montalvo | new orleans, la | 08/23/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This Doc is included in the enhanced DVD of the film. I bought both thinking that it wasn't."