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  • Writer's pictureDuke Daniel Pierce

Alumna Agnes Moorehead ('29) Returns to the Big Screen After 80 Years!

“'Citizen Kane' voted greatest-ever American film in BBC poll.”1

“'Citizen Kane' Is Still the Greatest Film of All Time.” 2

“AFI voted 'Citizen Kane' number one.” 3

“Why 'Citizen Kane' Got Labelled the Best Film Ever Made.” 4

Is Citizen Kane the best film of all time? Well, according to the BBC, AFI, and numerous cinephiles and movie-makers alike, it is. In the opinion of this author, “Casablanca” beats it out but it definitely is an incredible film that changed the game and deserves to be on that top three list. Watching “Kane” in 2021, you can hardly believe that it was made in 1941, in fact, if it wasn’t in black & white, you would think it was a much more modern picture. From the shot compositions to the scene transitions, to the non-linear plot, right down to the performances; the film exceeds the time period in which it was made. Orson Welles was just 25 years old when he made “Citizen Kane” and he flawlessly goes from a young, vibrant newspaperman to a withered, dilapidated septuagenarian looking back at his torrid life. Originally, Welles was reluctant to come to Hollywood and demanded from the studio (RKO) that he have free reign over whatever he wanted to make, something that was absolutely unheard of in the 1940s. In an attempt to reimagine their studio, RKO caved to Welles’ commands and he got the carte blanche he needed to make cinematic history.

The Academy has a special connection to this illustrious film in that alumna, Agnes Moorehead (‘29), who played Mary Kane, makes her feature film debut. Ms. Moorehead got her start doing radio dramas in New York which is where she met Orson Welles, who subsequently invited her to be a member of his Mercury Theatre on the Air troupe. During this time she was part of the famous “War of the Worlds” broadcast, this was so successful that she secured a $100,000 per picture deal with RKO and moved West to Hollywood. Her first picture out of the gate was “Citizen Kane.”

For its 80th Anniversary TCM, through its partnership with Fathom Events, is re-releasing “Citizen Kane” to big screens all across the country. On Sunday, September 19th and Wednesday, September 22nd, relive the classic as it was meant to be seen!


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