TCM Classic Film Festival: Citizen Kane

As many of you know, I recently covered the TCM Classic Film Festival for YAM Magazine. You can see the first of those articles here; there will be three more posted throughout the week. I’ll keep my general comments short and just say that it was fabulous and look for my article on YAM tomorrow for more details. I saw lots of really wonderful films on the big screen and I write about those experiences in the article that will be published tomorrow. That being said, I wanted to share one revelation I had while watching Citizen Kane. It is of the spoilery nature, so I thought it best to post it here, under the safety of jump-cut.

Maybe this revelation is something others have already noticed, but I had not. Seeing the film on the big screen on Saturday was maybe my 5th time seeing the film (I don’t own it on DVD and boy do I need to  I have purchased this on DVD since the original posting of this piece.) and there was this little bit of dialogue in the scene where Kane first meets Susan that I had never picked up before.

Let me set up the scene first, Kane has been splashed with mud and he comes in to Susan’s apartment to clean himself up. She has no idea who he is and he has just finished telling her about how he was on his way to see his mother’s things that have been in storage since her death. Then the following conversation happens.

Kane: I run a couple of newspapers, what do you do?
Susan: Me?
Kane: Mmm-hmm. How old did you say you were?
Susan: Oh, I didn’t say.
Kane: I didn’t think you did. If you had I wouldn’t have asked you. I’d’ve remembered. How old?
Susan: Pretty old.
Kane: How old?
Susan: Twenty-two in August.
Kane: That’s a ripe old age. What do you do?

Susan: Well I work at Tingleman’s; I’m in charge of the sheet music there.
Kane: Is that what you want to do?
Susan: No, I wanted to be a singer I guess. That is, I didn’t, my mother did.
Kane: What happened to singing?
Susan: Well, mother always thought [laughs] she always talked about grand opera for me, imagine. But, my voice isn’t that kind, it’s just, well you know what mother’s are like.
Kane: Yes.

So later on in the film, after they’re married, he builds that opera house in Chicago and tries to build her the reputation of a great opera diva. All those interviewed say that he did it because when the newspapers first printed the (relatively false) story about the two of them, they called her a “singer” and that he was trying to take the quote-un-quote off of the word. But really, with this scene what he was doing was trying to push her to be great, like her mother wanted, the same way his mother did for him. And in doing so, he fails just about as miserably as his own mother did. I had never noticed this before and it just added this whole new layer to the film and to their relationship. I feel like every time I watch this film I’m going to notice more and more little things like this and my mind is going to explode each time.


About Marya E. Gates

Cinephile to the max.

Posted on May 3, 2011, in Classic Film, Film Festivals and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. OH MY GOSH. I never even thought about it like that. (And ESPECIALLY coming after his visiting his mother’s things in storage.)

    I always thought he built her the opera house, not to prove to the world, but to prove to Susan that he LOVED her (the whole thing about CK being incapable of actually loving people).

    Adding in the whole mother dynamic makes this all even more interesting.

    Gosh, I love this movie. haha

  2. I ADORE finding new layers to films. For me, 75% of the time they are completely stretched from any semblance of the truth. BUT, HEY. I still find them enjoyable to ponder. ;-D

  3. It’s fantastic to discover new interpretations to great films. And CITIZEN KANE… well, it remains the greatest Cinema masterpiece.

  4. My Dad made me watch Citizen Kane as a child and I was asleep in minutes, but it was on tv last night and I was in love within seconds! It was amazing, and it feels so serendipitous that you posted this today.

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