Today’s dive into the past is a 1960 interview with Orson Welles in which he and a BBC interviewer discuss (what else?) “Citizen Kane.” It begins in typical Welles fashion, with the filmmaker taking a stoic puff from his cigar before answering that “there was indeed a very definite effort” to derail the landmark film during production; he then compares Hollywood studios to “Central American Republics…there were revolutions, counter-revolutions and every sort of palace intrigue.” Anyone who’s seen Welles act — whether in “The Third Man,” “The Stranger” or one of his own films, “Kane” included — knows what a compelling onscreen presence he is, and his eloquence is on proud display here.
Kane isn’t really based on newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst “in particular,” Welles clarifies in response to an oft-asked question, though the power mogul was one of many men who fit the Kane mold. “I must answer this in a way that I loathe,” he says when asked if the film was intended as a social document or a story. “I must admit that it was intended, consciously, as a sort of social document — as an attack on the acquisitive society.”
His best response, however, comes when he’s asked about the way he approached the shooting of the film: “I didn’t know that there were things you couldn’t do, so anything I could think up in my dreams, I attempted to photograph.”