Citizen Kane: what a crappy ending!

The “Rosebud” end of Citizen Kane seems perfect to me. So much of the movie was watching Kane’s development through life, so the audience can make their own judgments. But there are plenty of Rashamon-like versions given to the reporter as well. Joseph Cotton’s interview as an old man comes to mind.

Fascinating stuff, because the audience is just another onlooker to Kane’s life. The sled is a neat, powerful symbol enclosing the tale. I can’t think of anything else that would have tied beginning to end so elegantly. And it’s great symbol because it stays true to the whole outlook of the movie: it’s ambiguous enough to allow the onlookers in the audience to impose their own interpretation.

Besides, it’s visually stunning; the sled burning in heaps of stuff; the vast room of boxed treasures, surely the inspiration for the gov’t. warehouse ending in Raiders of the Lost Ark…just splendid movie making.

Speaking of weird endings, does anyone else remember Kelley’s Heroes, a bizarre war flick with Clint Eastwood and Donald Sutherland? Supposedly it’s set in WWII, but the atmosphere is pure 1960’s Viet Nam. It’s weird comedy, about GI’s racing Germans to a stash of gold.


My God, Veb, Kelley’s Heroes is one of my all-time faves. Not only Eastwood and Sutherland, but Telly Savalas, Don Rickles, Gavin McLeod (long before Mary Tyler Moore or the Love Boat), Stuart Margolin (Angel from The Rockford Files), Harry Dean Stanton (before Escape from New York), Carroll O’Conner as a demented (and hilarious) general. But why do you say that it’s got a weird ending? WARNING WARNING

They get the gold in the end, the Nazi turns out to have been more interested in money than ideology (or foreskins), Carroll O’Conner is mistaken for Charles DeGaulle (sp?), the Allies take Nancy (again sp?), and that stupid song about All the Burning Bridges comes on again as they half-track off into the sunset. Ya gotta love it!


moodtobestewed said:

FTR, *The Third Man * is a Carol Reed movie. Welles only acted in it.

Well, according to zgystardst’s post regarding “RKO281,” the origin of “Rosebud” still seems to be second- and third-hand gossip. It still sounds like third-grade boy’s room tittle-tattle to me.


I agree with you (see my post above – which was simulposted with RealityChuck’s, although I expressed my skepticism), but it is a great story. I can’t believe that you hadn’t stumbled across such a juicy piece of gossip. The thought of Hearst sitting all the way through the movie wondering whether Welles would reveal the true meaning of the word, anger building all the time, is a very intriguing one. It certainly explains his hatred of the film more than the usual explanation. (And I disagree that it would be a case of an older scriptwriter taking advantage of a young film-maker. It’s hard to imagine anyone taking advantage of Welles, even at such an early age. Welles was quite capable of manipulating the press while keeping an innocent face – he evidently did so in being so “aw, shucks” modest after the “War of the Worlds” panic. And I can’t believe that the director and star would be so blissfully ignorant.)

Nevertheless, I do think this falls into the category of “too good to be true”.

Hey, Cantrip, what a blast that someone else remembers this! Sutherland’s over-the-top burnt out hippie tank commander is a gem.


The ending always struck me as strange given Eastwood’s leading role. It didn’t suprise me that the good guys (Americans) got the gold away from the heartless Nazi animals; expected movie ending.

But given Eastwood’s fairly straight-arrow image, it did suprise me that he–and the whole unit–decided to keep the gold for themselves. Actually it was a fairly clever, adept little bit of business, especially given the political climate of the time. But it’s rare to find any film mention that Allies looted in WWII, too. And even more suprising that it was in an Eastwood vehicle.

Damn, I love this place! No reference is too offbeat or obscure…


If it makes you feel any better, moodtobestewed, I’ve heard that Welles himself (note spelling) didn’t want the shot of the sled at the end, preferring to leave it a mystery.

It was Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorhead and the other Mercury Theater players who convinced him to include it. They thought it would be more satisfying for the audiences.

Interestingly, there’ve been minor debates over the years about who could have heard Kane’s last word. He’s shown alone in his bedroom just before he speaks it.

One of the more outlandish explanations I’ve read is that one of Kane’s servants heard it through the speaking tube next to the bed. But I think the right answer is that Kane’s nurse was still in the room, but off-camera.


Wasn’t Kane in his wheelchair at the top of the staircase? He utters, “Rosebud,” then drops the snowglobe down the stairs.

I always assumed even an utterance in that big empty house would carry a ways. The movie does make extensive use of vast interior spaces.

Granted, it’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie.


No, he was in bed. You’re obviously thinking of the ending of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir.

Well, acted in and wrote/rewrote a large amount of the dialogue for his character Harry Lime. I’m pretty sure the “Cukoo Clock” part that makes everyone shiver just a little bit.

That’s a good bit, but it doesn’t creep me out like the child with the ball. Ugh.