Orson Welles, Norman Mailer and Citizen Kane

The filmmaker grew to greatly resent those who asked about his 1941 classic.

CitizenKane7thAnniversaryDVDIt’s the 75th anniversary year of Citizen Kane, President-elect Trump’s favorite film.

Tomorrow at the AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles, a remastered version of the 1941 classic will be screened beginning at 1:30 p.m. PT, followed by a master class taught by Peter Bogdanovich. The print was struck for a special new Blu-ray edition of the classic.

In the lead-up to Sunday’s event, the American Film Institute interviewed Bogdanovich, still working on his own projects today and of course always in possession of a full range of great stories about his late close friend, Orson Welles. When AFI asked ‘How did Welles feel about the film?,’ it generated this fascinating transcribed Q&A answer:

He didn’t want to talk about it much. Orson did The David Frost Show [as guest host] in 1970 and I was there. He had a guest, Norman Mailer, and after the show they went to Frankie and Johnnie’s in Manhattan and I joined them for dinner. We sat down and Norman said to Orson, “There’s a great shot in Citizen Kane…” and Orson said, “Oh, no, Norman, not Citizen Kane.”

Norman looked perplexed for a minute and then said, “Oh, yeah, I guess it’s like me and The Naked and the Dead,” meaning that both Norman and Orson were plagued by the notoriety of their first effort. It was the only picture that anybody ever talked to him about, and he was irritated about it because he’d made other pictures that nobody saw. It depressed him actually. It was a struggle to get him to talk about Kane. Reluctantly he talked about it; I would trick him into it sometimes.

Welles taped an interview with Frost that ran in May and was repeated June 4, 1970. For his guest-host duties a few days later (June 8), he welcomed, in addition to Mailer, Duke Ellington and singer Elly Stone.

Image courtesy: Warner Home Video