Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Citizen Kane (1941) – This portrait of a media mogul driven to success by his own megalomania and greed is hailed by many critics as one of the first great artistic achievements in American cinema. The director and star, Orson Welles, claimed that the fictional Charles Foster Kane was partly based on his own life, but audiences were quick to see that Kane most closely resembled the media entrepreneur William Randolph Hearst. The film is famous for creating immediate intrigue when an elderly Kane whispers the word “Rosebud” on his deathbed and none of the witnesses knows the word’s significance. The story then gives highlights from Kane's career from his days as a journalist to his days as a notorious magnate willing to do anything to grab readers.

Though Jimmy James once claimed that Citizen Kane was his favorite movie (Episode 25, “Led Zeppelin”), he mistakenly buys a counterfeit prop from the film in a later episode: a sled with the phrase “Rose Bowl” painted on it as opposed to the famously uttered “Rosebud” that Kane longs for on his deathbed (Episode 43, "Rose Bowl"). (The real sled used as “Rosebud” is presently owned by film director Steven Spielberg.)

It is fitting that James calls Citizen Kane his favorite film since he shares a few qualities with the man on which it is based. Both James and Hearst are tycoons who own media outlets; both have made stabs at running for executive office; and both have advocated “yellow journalism” (attempts to increase audience by sensationalizing stories or even by faking interviews), though, it should be noted, James has resorted to tabloid tactics sparingly.

(SUPPLEMENT: In "The Secret of Management" (Episode 62), James makes an indirect reference to his favorite film when he talks about how he modeled his palatial home after Kane's fictional estate, Xanadu. He tells Lisa that "I wanted a place just like Xanadu but without such a dorky name." James then reveals that he calls his residence "Fort Awesome."

["Led Zeppelin", "Rose Bowl" "The Secret of Management"]

1 comment:

MM said...

Fort Awesome--classic.