Tag Archives: Citizen Kane

Director: Orson Welles

Welles is honored here as a film director, but he was also an excellent screenwriter, actor, producer, and theater director. Uploaded by laudrey.wordpress.com.

I celebrate Welles here as a director, because that’s the area I consider his greatest strength. But he was also a writer, actor, producer, and theater director.

Welles got his start in theater, directing contemporary productions of Macbeth (in Haiti, with voodoo instead of witches) and Hamlet (in fascist Italy). When his group, the Mercury Theatre, produced a radio broadcast of H.G. Wells  The War of the Worlds, Welles gained instant notoriety.

Uploaded by francesfarmersrevenge.com.

But it was his direction of Citizen Kane (Great American Things, July 27, 2009) that established Welles’s reputation as a visionary film director. He employed many techniques never before used on film – nonlinear narrative, wonderful varieties of light and shadow, extended scenes, deep-focus camera perspectives. It received nine Academy Award nominations, but took just one award – Best Original Screenplay. Even so, it’s often considered the best American film ever made.

But Welles had two other masterpieces in him, though neither has had quite the acclaim of Citizen Kane. The first was his second film, The Magnificent Ambersons, released just one year after Kane. Notoriously strong-willed, Kane was eventually denied the final cut of the movie, which was shortened and given a happier ending than he wrote. Even so, it’s an excellent movie. And, following a bumpy couple of decades, Welles directed and co-starred with Charlton Heston in the 1958 film, Touch of Evil.

Welles won an honorary Oscar in 1971 for “superlative artistry and versatility in the creation of motion pictures.” He also received Life Achievement Awards from the American Film Institute and from the Directors Guild of America.

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Film: The Maltese Falcon

Bogart and Astor on the poster, not Lorre and Greenstreet. Duh. Uploaded by content.artofmanliness.com.

Bogart and Astor on the poster, not Lorre and Greenstreet. Duh. Uploaded by content.artofmanliness.com.

Dashiell Hammett wrote the book. John Huston directed the film. And Humphrey Bogart made it memorable.

The Maltese Falcon, which premiered in 1941, is usually considered the first entry in the film noir genre. It was Huston’s directorial debut, and also marked the first film appearance of the corpulent Sydney Greenstreet. Also in major parts were the lovely Mary Astor and the supremely creepy Peter Lorre.

Uploaded to Flickr by SonomaPicMan.

Uploaded to Flickr by SonomaPicMan.

The movie was made with three variations from typical filmmaking techniques that would amaze the modern movie maker. First, the entire film was shot in sequence, which the actors loved. Second, production was so meticulously planned that almost no lines of dialogue were cut. And third, much of the dialogue was taken directly from the novel. Imagine that, respecting the source material.

The film was nominated for three Academy Awards, but didn’t win. It battled for Best Picture against Citizen Kane (Great American Thing No.: 110), Here Comes Mr. Jordan, Suspicion, and the winner, How Green Was My Valley. The American Film Institute named it the number 32 Greatest Movie of All Time, and number 6 in the Mystery genre.