We’ve written lots about Citizen Kane as anyone seriously involved in a classic movie website would absolutely have to.
Kane, the unforgettable debut feature of Orson Welles inspired at least in part by the life press magnate William Randolph Hearst, was made at RKO in 1941 when Welles was only 25. We cannot think of another movie that so well stands the test of time, that is, more than qualifies as a genuine classic.
OK, then. Why are we writing again about Citizen Kane?
Well, because we unearthed a concise, beautifully written essay by Welles as a foreword to the 1975 memoir of Hearst’s longtime (32 years) mistress, actress/comedienne Marion Davies, which sets forth the director’s view of his own classic.
The memoir itself, The Times We Had: Life With William Randolph Hearst, is delightful and well worth the read.
How much did the life of Charles Foster Kane parallel the life of Hearst (with and without Davies)? Welles tackles this question, and presents some surprising conclusions. So today’s quiz will test your knowledge of these reel-real characters, who continue to mesmerize moviegoers to this day.
Your mission is to divine what Welles was really up to in Citizen Kane.
For today’s quiz, we abandoned our usual multiple choice format for a simpler, true-or-false, one. Questions today, answers tomorrow. Let’s get going:
1) Question: In Citizen Kane, a Hearst-assigned sketch artist was dispatched to cover a “war” in Cuba, he wrote back to the boss that there wasn’t enough action to keep him busy. You make the pictures, I’ll make the war, Hearst wired back. This incident never happened, and was completely made up by Orson Welles. a) True; or b) False?
2) Question: Charles Foster Kane’s rags to riches early boyhood life in the movie pretty much parallels that of Hearst’s. a) True; or b) False?
3) Question: The character of Susan Kane, Charles Foster Kane’s second wife, is directly based on that of Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies. a) True; or b) False?
4) Question: According to Welles, Marion Davies was a famous beauty, who had her choice of rich and powerful men even before she met Hearst. a) True; or b) False?
5) Question: Who was the famous and powerful public figure upon which the Kane character was based in his futile effort to make Susan Alexander into an opera star?
6) Question: Welles liked Marion Davies personally but was never impressed with her acting talents. a) True; or b) False?
7) Question: Welles noted that Hearst financed many of Davies movies, and backed her with expensive publicity. This helped her career enormously. a) True; or b) False.
8) Question: In his essay published in 1975, Welles compares Hearst with Aristotle Onassis. Which man did he think was wealthier?
9) Question: Which of the two men mentioned above did Welles consider more powerful?
10) Question: Hearst built one castle, which was the prototype of the lonely fortress of Xanadu in the movie. a) True; or b) False.