HomeLatest ThreadsGreatest ThreadsForums & GroupsMy SubscriptionsMy Posts
DU Home » Latest Threads » Forums & Groups » Topics » Entertainment » Classic Films (Group) » A query for (most likely)...

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 06:02 PM

A query for (most likely) senior Citizen Kane purists

Is there anyone out there in DU land (of any age, but probably old-timers like myself) who viewed Citizen Kane before it was inexplicably mutilated? Yes, one of the most compelling sequences in the film was cut to a fraction of its original length before going to VHS in the early '80s and DVD later on!

In the prints I watched in the '60s & '70s (which I'll get to later), after the confrontation in Susan's rooms including Kane, Gettys & Emily, Gettys exits & starts slowly descending the hallway stairs, half-smiling, followed by an apoplectic Kane shouting, "I'M CHARLES FOSTER KANE… I'M NO CHEAP, CROOKED POLITICIAN…GETTYS!..SING SING!... etc., etc." This continues down four (maybe five) flights (no, Susan did NOT live on the second floor!), with Gettys maintaining the same expression & deliberate pace & Kane following in short bursts, stopping, & shouting mostly the same lines over & over. Caught on film was the moment the famously flat-footed Welles slipped down several stairs & (depending on the source) either sprained or chipped an ankle. In any case, he directed from a wheelchair for a week & wore a leg brace in later scenes.

It's been decades, but I believe this sequence ran for well over a minute, perhaps as long as 90 seconds, & imo ranks with the greatest set pieces in a film chock-full of them. I mean, talk about your metaphors! Kane's descent from the heights! Kane's big slip-up (a clumsy accident, but still)! In the current video version, of course, only a tiny snippet remains, running less than 20 seconds, a pale shadow of the original. In several frames near the end, Kane is heard shouting but his lips don't move, proof that an edit was made.

As to the historicity of the above, I saw Kane for the first time (16mm) in a film class at NY's School of Visual Arts in 1966 (coincidentally Kane's 25th anniversary) & can still remember how blown away I was at the end. For the next 10 years I caught Kane at its annual showing at the beloved Elgin Theater on lower 8th Avenue & also on TV (usually once a year). When retail VCRs arrived in the mid '70s I taped Kane (pausing for commercials) off WOR-TV channel 9, which at that time was owned by RKO Studios, where Kane was filmed. (In fact, the graphic at commercial breaks & before resuming -- copied from a still frame -- showed the scowling Kane at the top of the staircase at Susan's.) Had I forseen the future I would've treated that tape like gold, but in the course of my lifelong vagabonding the tape was lost. So it goes.

I've scoured the internets but have found no mention of this edit, let alone a clip of the original. I've reached out to both a respected film historian & the webmaster at Welles.net, but neither had seen the sequence nor could provide information regarding its fate. The earliest VHS I know of, RKO Studios' "Original Studio Version" from 1982, contains the edited sequence, & I'm not aware of any uncut DVD edition, including the several anniversary releases.

As we know, the original 35mm print of Kane burnt to a crisp in a warehouse fire decades ago (not unlike Rosebud), so there's no chance of a restored version being released. What I'm hoping for is that someone out there who lived in Noo Yawk or LA (or somewhere else? who knows?) during the '50s, '60's or '70s knows what I'm talking about. If so, please, please post a reply. If you also happen to own an uncut Kane tape, or know someone who does, I'd be extremely eager to hear from you. All comments are welcome, of course, even from those who think I'm hallucinating (I'm not).

To all who have read my entire long-winded post, I admire your patience & perseverance. Thanks!

14 replies, 1419 views

Reply to this thread

Back to top Alert abuse

Always highlight: 10 newest replies | Replies posted after I mark a forum
Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 14 replies Author Time Post
Reply A query for (most likely) senior Citizen Kane purists (Original post)
Lord Ludd Jun 2020 OP
if..fish..had..wings Jun 2020 #1
Lord Ludd Jun 2020 #9
wryter2000 Jun 2020 #2
Lord Ludd Jun 2020 #5
JustAnotherGen Jun 2020 #3
Lord Ludd Jun 2020 #7
JustAnotherGen Jun 2020 #14
mountain grammy Jun 2020 #4
Lord Ludd Jun 2020 #6
mountain grammy Jun 2020 #8
CBHagman Jun 2020 #10
Lord Ludd Jun 2020 #11
CBHagman Jun 2020 #12
Lord Ludd Jun 2020 #13

Response to Lord Ludd (Original post)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 06:07 PM

1. Sorry, no

I first watched Kane around the same time as you, '67 or '68. I was young and liked it but not blown away.
Next watched it around '71 or '72 and fell in love with it and realized what a masterpiece it was.

I have seen it probably 30 times total and I do not have any recollection of this extended scene.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to if..fish..had..wings (Reply #1)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 09:16 PM

9. That's OK. Glad to hear you changed your opinion. nt

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lord Ludd (Original post)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 06:19 PM

2. I saw it on NY tv as a kid

I don't remember it well enough to answer your question. I hope someone here does.

Have you checked IMDB? (Stupid question. I'm sure you have.) Might there be a biography of Orson Wells around that mentions the accident?

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to wryter2000 (Reply #2)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 07:21 PM

5. Actually, the Welles ankle injury is a well-documented fact

I've read several Welles biographies & every one mentions it. If you google "orson welles citzen kane injury" you'll get many hits.

My problem is that I saw Welles injure his ankle in the Kane sequence I referred to, but that part was cut when Kane went to VHS. (Although Welles had no legal control over the film, perhaps he suggested the edit. Who knows?)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lord Ludd (Original post)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 06:24 PM

3. I think so

First saw it in University for film history (mass communication major). It was on a reel. Early 1990's

Now we have a mystery.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to JustAnotherGen (Reply #3)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 08:07 PM

7. You're the first to concur

Last edited Sat Jun 13, 2020, 10:24 PM - Edit history (1)

I wish I'd investigated this decades ago when many of the principals were still alive.

FYI, the last living cast member (actually one of the crew), a young woman whose voice (only) is heard in a crowd of reporters near the end asking, "What's Rosebud?", died a few years ago.

The missing footage is indeed a mystery.

(Edited to add additional info.)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lord Ludd (Reply #7)

Mon Jun 15, 2020, 09:31 AM

14. If you kind of think about it from an artistic standpoint

It would be like showing the actual murder in Niagara.

It's more suspenseful and has greater impact in the quiet well timed shadows.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lord Ludd (Original post)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 07:07 PM

4. I've seen it several times

But can’t remember the scene you’re talking about. Now I want to watch it again. Been about 30 years since last time I saw it.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to mountain grammy (Reply #4)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 07:36 PM

6. Since the first time (1966), I've watched Kane at least once a year

First in school, then on TV & in theaters, & later on VHS & DVD. I'd say the first dozen times (at least) I was as moved as I was after my first viewing.

If you enjoyed Kane 30 years ago I'm confident you'll feel the same this time. For me it holds up as well in 2020 as it did a half-century ago.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lord Ludd (Reply #6)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 09:10 PM

8. Yes..it's time to see it again.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lord Ludd (Original post)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 10:13 PM

10. Wow.

I don't think I've seen it since a screening at the student union theater during the 1970s or 1980s, and I couldn't even say what print was used. So I'm duly intrigued...and it's time to watch it again.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to CBHagman (Reply #10)

Sat Jun 13, 2020, 10:53 PM

11. Even without the missing footage, Kane is magnificent

Perhaps the equal of Citizen Kane imo is Barry Lyndon, which left me in the same stunned condition as did Kane. (Not hard to guess who my favorite Barry Lyndon character was.)

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to Lord Ludd (Reply #11)

Sun Jun 14, 2020, 01:14 PM

12. I've got to say I saw Barry Lyndon before I was ready to see it...

...and I should probably try a second viewing.

As a university student, I spent a lot of time on movies, and the film schedule was nothing short of outstanding. However, I didn't learn the basics of film criticism then and I wasn't really seeing everything I was meant to see.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink


Response to CBHagman (Reply #12)

Sun Jun 14, 2020, 07:07 PM

13. Film buff that you are, Barry Lyndon demands at least a second viewing

to appreciate more fully its visual & aural splendor, sly humor, & brilliant performances (even Ryan O'Neal's!). I've seen it probably a couple of dozen times (fortunately I have a video projector & 5-foot screen) & always come away more than a little awe-struck.

I actually envy someone like you, who comes to Barry Lyndon with fresh eyes. If at all possible, do try to watch it on a large-ish screen.

Reply to this post

Back to top Alert abuse Link here Permalink

Reply to this thread