Arguably the greatest of American films, Orson Welles' 1941 masterpiece, made when he was only 25, still unfurls like a dream and carries the viewer along the mysterious currents of time and memory to reach a mature (if ambiguous) conclusion: people are the sum of their contradictions and can't be known easily. Welles plays newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, taken from his mother as a boy and made the ward of a rich industrialist. The result is that every well-meaning or tyrannical or self-destructive move he makes for the rest of his life appears in some way to be a reaction to that deeply wounding event. Written by Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz, and photographed by Gregg Toland, the film is the sum of Welles's awesome ambitions as an artist in Hollywood. He pushes the limits of then-available technology to create a true magic show, a visual and aural feast that almost seems to be rising up from a viewer's subconscious. As Kane, Welles even ushers in the influence of Bertolt Brechton film acting. This is truly a one-of-a-kind work, and in many ways is still the most modern of modern films this century. --Tom Keogh
Orson Welles makes his feature-length directorial debut with this classic drama which often tops critics' polls of the best films of all time. In 1940, newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane (Welles) dies after uttering the word 'Rosebud'. An anonymous reporter (William Alland) is assigned the task of uncovering the meaning of Kane's dying word, and in the course of his enquiries he receives varying accounts of his life from former colleagues Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten) and Bernstein (Everett Sloan), and ex-wife Susan Alexander (Dorothy Comingore). The film, which Welles also produced and co-wrote, was not-so-loosely based on the life of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst.