Screening of Welles' masterpiece at former home of William Randolph Hearst will lay to rest long-running feud
When Orson Welles' masterpiece Citizen Kane first hit cinemas in 1941, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst was distinctly unimpressed: the similarities between himself and Welles' creation Charles Foster Kane were too strong to be ignored.
The powerful press baron went out of his way to derail the movie.
Now, more than 70 years later, it seems that the family of the pre-eminent US media impresario of the early part of the last century has finally forgiven Welles after agreeing to a screening of Citizen Kane at the Hearst Castle visitor centre in California.
The screening on 9 March will be part of the San Luis Obispo international flick festival, which takes place each year in the central Californian region where Hearst's ornate former home is located.
The castle was donated to the state in 1957, six years after its owner's death, and is now a significant tourist attraction.
Kane, written and directed by Welles when he was only 26, is being shown with the blessing of Hearst's descendants.
Festival director Wendy Eidson told the LA Times it was likely to be the first time the Welles classic had been seen on Hearst's sprawling estate, which its owner referred to as "La Cuesta Encantada" ("The Enchanted Hill") and is visited by one million tourists each year.
"I tossed out the idea of screening Citizen Kane there as a joke, and they didn't laugh," Eidson said. "I was sort of floored." However the mogul's great grandson Steve Hearst said the viewing was "a great opportunity to draw a clear distinction between WR and Orson Welles, between the medieval, gloomy-looking castle shown in Citizen Kane and the light, beautiful, architecturally superior reality".
Hearst's efforts to destroy Citizen Kane are legendary.
He is said to have lobbied against it with the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the body which decides the Oscars, resulting in How Green Was My Valley winning best flick in 1942 in its place.
Hearst also kept adverts for the flick out of his many newspapers, and one of his allies in Hollywood is even said to have tried to buy the footage in order to burn it just prior to the movie's release.
Another story is that FBI chief J Edgar Hoover launched a decade-long investigation into Welles as a result of Hearst's anger over the film.
Hearst is said to have been particularly incensed at the depiction in Welles' flick of Kane's companion, Susan Alexander, an alcoholic singer who the magnate persuades to embark on a disastrous opera career, supported by his newspapers.
The mogul himself was romantically involved with a successful actor, Marion Davies.
Welles once said that she was not the basis for Alexander, but the comparison seems to have stuck in Hearst's craw nonetheless.
Steve Hearst, who manages the family's ranches and other business interests, said there were many comparisons to be made between Kane and his great-grandfather, but also huge differences.
"The character Orson Welles depicted was quite a bit more flamboyant and outgoing than WR was," he said. "He wasn't the kind of guy who would be dancing in the editorial room with his staffers."
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