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Citizen Kane Screening at the Hearst Castle?

Hal McClure Posted by Hal McClure in Features January 23rd, 2012

If the late William Randolph Hearst knew his heirs had given a willing thumbs-up to screen the hated 1941 Citizen Kane at the Hearst Castle he would be climbing the walls in the family mausoleum.

The San Luis Obispo Film Festival has announced that the classic Orson Welles film—on almost everyone’s list of  the world’s  10 great films— would be shown on the Castle’s five-story screen March 9, the first time-ever inside the castle.

Festival Director Wendy Eidson thought the Hearst descendants might object, and was surprised when they didn’t.

In reality, Steve Hearst, the great-grandson and vice-president of the Hearst Corp. gave an enthusiastic okay. He said his great-grandfather  never saw the film, but all the family has. He added:

“It’s a great opportunity to draw a clear distinction between W.R. and Orson Welles…We can enjoy it just as fully as a work of artistic fiction, not fact.”

Welles as Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane, which earned seven Academy Award nominations and won one for its screenplay, was a thinly disguised depiction of Hearst and his life as newspaper publisher and life at San Simeon’s La Cuesta Encantada—The Enchanted Hill—built on a bluff overlooking the Pacific north of San Luis Obispo. Welles called the castle Xanadu.

Hearst hated the film so much that he banned ads, publicity and even Welles’ name from ever appearing in his many newspapers.

Unlike the film when Kane’s last word was the enigmatic “Rosebud,” Hearst’s last word or words have never been disclosed.

To see its 1940 Coming Attraction, click Citizen Kane


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