Orson Welles Pornographer

Okay, I don’t have a lot of time as I’ve got to be crawling into bed in a bit, but I thought of this tonight and wanted to get it down before I forgot it.

This thread’s going to be discussing Welles’s Citizen Kane, and will contain spoilers, so if you’ve managed to somehow avoid finding out anything about the film and don’t want the movie spoiled for you before you watch it, then I suggest you leave. After all, it’ll ruin the experience if you find out that at the end Rhett leaves Scarlett! :wink:

Okay, so now that all the weenies have left, let’s get down to business. We all know that “Rosebud” was the nickname William Randolf Hearst had for his girlfriend’s clit. The standard story is that this was put into the film as jab at Hearst, and while I don’t disagree, I think that limiting it to solely that, misses an important subtext.

In every porn I’ve ever seen, there’s a character who has some kind of sexual “itch” that they need “scratched.” They then spend the rest of the movie in search of the perfect “scratcher.” CK details the pursuit of who/what “Rosebud” is, other than Kane’s last word. The people with the “itch” are the reporters, the “perfect scratch” is discovering what “Rosebud” is (the clit).

It’s important that “Rosebud” is Kane’s last word. According to experts on death and dying, right before you die, you get really horney. So Kane being a heterosexual is going to be thinking of female gentalia.

Now, in the movie, we know that the sled painted with the word “Rosebud” was given to Kane by his mother. This is symbolic of the time being spent in the womb. When Kane is given a replacement sled by his guardian (a male), Kane is unhappy. This is symbolic of Kane discovering masterbation.

Kane’s first marriage starts out happy, but soon deteriorates. Kane later goes to a warehouse where he’s stored his mother’s things, but never makes it there, encountering the woman who would first become his mistress and the later his second wife. We know, after watching the film, that the reason Kane was going to the warehouse was to retrieve “Rosebud.” Kane’s second marriage is as disasterous as his first, with the wife obviously wanting more than Kane was willing or able to give her. Eventually, she leaves him.

Intercutting all of this, are male reporters intent on knowing who or what “Rosebud” is. The women in the film don’t seem to be all that obsessed with “Rosebud.” That’s obviously because they already know what “Rosebud” is.

The source of Kane’s unhappiness in the film is that he no longer has “Rosebud” and despite trying, he’s unable to rediscover it. Kane’s fall from grace is all because he can’t find the clit!

My cat’s breath smells like catfood.

My dog’s breath smells like catfood too.

You’ve combined two distinct ideas; Rosebud=Marion Davies’ clitoris and Rosebud=lost mother’s love. However these two aspects of Charles Kane’s personality did not arise from a common source. The clitoris aspect was written by Mankiewicz and was based on his insider’s knowledge of William Hearst’s life. But the abandonment aspect came from Welles and was based on his own childhood (Hearst’s mother doted on her son). So it’s unlikely that the dual nature of Rosebud you theorize exists was an intentional creation; more likely is that two different men had two distinct ideas about what Rosebud was.

Uh, can’t really comment other than that someone should please, please change the title of this thread to “Orson Welles: Pornographer.” I saw the title as it is now and got images of a chubby, naked Welles doing money shots and shrieked like the girls from Heavenly Creatures and now I just have to go lie down and try to think of anything, anything else.

As Freud said, “Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.” I would add, that sometimes, a sled is just a sled. :smiley:

No doubt, Welles would have been a great pornographer if he has been so inclined, though.

My Mom’s breath smells like kitty farts.

Do we have any evidence of this, beyond salacious, Kenneth Anger-style rumor? Has anyone who actually knew either Hearst or Davies gone on the record as vouching for this?

The documentary that PBS did on their American Masters series explicitly (sorry!) states that screenwriter Mankiewicz knew about the real meaning of Rosebud, IIRC…I just don’t recall them mentioning how he knew. Actually, I think it might have been Mankiewicz’s son that mentioned it in the documentary.

Obviously, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen it, but if you want to check it out, it’s now packaged as the second disc in the reissued Citizen Kane on DVD.

And you’re assuming that Welles couldn’t have made the same kind of combination? And I don’t see how you can say that Mankiewicz and Welles were in disagreement over what “Rosebud” was. There wasn’t no moment in the film where it seemed that “Rosebud” was one thing and then another.

Besides, there’s many areas where the film deviates from Hearst’s life. You’ve mentioned one, let me add some others:[ul]
[li]Kane’s second wife had a disasterous singing career. Hearst’s girlfriend’s was quite successful in hers.[/li][li]Kane was dead at the end of the film, Hearst was still very much alive.[/li][li]Kane lost much of his media empire. Hearst didn’t.[/li][li]Welles claimed that he and Hearst shared an elevator at a film festival in the 50s or 60s. Welles asked Hearst if it was true that he’d never seen CK. Hearst replied that he’d never seen it, Welles then offered to take Hearst up and show him the film. Hearst declined the offer. Welles’s comment, “Hell, Kane would have accepted.”[/ul][/li]
As for “Rosebud” being the nickname of Hearst’s GF’s clit, I’ve seen that bandied about so many times that it seems to be GAAF (Generally Accepted As Fact).

The film RKO 281, makes the claim that Mankiewicz used to work for Hearst, or was close friends with someone who did. (It’s been a couple of years since I’ve seen the film so the details are sketchy.)

William Randolph Heart died in 1951 at the age of 88, so I doubt he was riding elevators at film festivals with Orson Welles in the 1950s or 1960s. I’ve read Simon Callow’s biography of Welles and two books on the making of Citizen Kane; none said that Welles and Hearst ever met.

My source for this was the book that came with the 50th Anniversary edition videotape of the film and it’s been a number of years since I read it, so I might have my dates wrong, but it did distinctly state that Welles and Hearst had met. Unfortunately, my copy’s packed away at the moment and I can’t dig it out to look up the information.

Mankiewicz was a friend of Marion Davies and he presumedly heard about Hearst’s fondness of Rosebud from her. Mankiewicz was also a Hollywood insider, unlike Welles, who understood how powerful Hearst was. And Mankiewicz had a strong self-destructive streak in his personality.

So my theory is that Mankiewicz planted a bomb in the movie. He intentionally provoked a powerful man by attacking him where he was most vulnerable. Mankiewicz then made sure the Hearst knew about it (Mankiewicz sent a copy of the script to someone he knew would pass it on to Hearst). Mankiewicz was apparently seeking his own destruction by Hearst.

Ironically however, the resulting attack bypassed Mankiewicz and fell on Welles. Welles was an egomaniac who sought all the credit for the film and Hearst apparently took him at his word. So it was Welles who ended up paying the price for Hearst’s anger.

Nemo, I find it interesting that film in many ways foreshadowed Welles’s own life. He showed up in Hollywood as the golden boy, whipped out a movie that’s considered to be one of the finest ever made, and then found his life on a downward slide. At the end of his life, everyone wanted to hire Welles for their production, because his prescence lent great credibility to whatever crap it was they were spewing out (you can hear the amusement in his voice as he does the narration for The Late Great Planet Earth), but no one would give Welles the money to make his own movies.

My own theory, is that Welles was hoping to create the same kind of sensationalism with the film that he did with War of the Worlds. He hoped that the jabs at Hearst would get media attention and draw everyone into a debate. Instead, Hearst (or at least his underlings) did everything they could to surpress the movie (no ads for the film were allowed in Hearst owned newspapers), and it died a quiet death of sorts. (Welles, of course, has had the last laugh.)

You know, I think that the reason Welles didn’t do a film version of War of the Worlds that he knew there was no way the film version could ever do justice to the story. The technology just wasn’t there, so he settled for writing a beautiful movie. Ironic, isn’t it? Today, the technology to make War of the Worlds exists, but stories written as beautifully as CK don’t.

"According to experts on death and dying, right before you die, you get really horney. "

How do they know this? I would suspect that if I were nearly comatose from a morphine drip, being eaten alive from the inside by a metastized cancer, the last thing I’d be thinking about was jumping the night nurse.

Not to mention that somebody who was about to die would have to mention being horny for anyone to know that. :wink:

I think that’s a mighty weird attempt at a theory. To Kane, Rosebud is just a sled and nothing more. To Hearst, it was something sexual. But we’re never given any reason to think Kane viewed it in that way. Frankly, it would be EXTREMELY weird - or maybe I’m just old-fashioned - for a dying man to be having sexual thoughts about a frickin’ sled.

I’ve always preferred skiing. Wonder what that means?

Never kiss an animal that can lick its own butt.

FWIW; http://windhorst.org/caen/Topkis-Vidal.htm

*Originally posted by Tuckerfan *
[li]Kane’s second wife had a disasterous singing career. Hearst’s girlfriend’s was quite successful in hers.**[/li]
She had some commercial successes, but she was never a superstar by any stretch and was brutalized by every critic not employed by Hearst. Plus, pretty much all of us could have a few box-office hits under our belt if we had a billionaire sugar daddy financing movie after movie with top notch talent.

[li]Kane lost much of his media empire. Hearst didn’t.[/li]
He didn’t lose it, but he only clung onto it by his fingernails and most of it was saved only by conservators and family members taking it away from him. His need for cash was so great that he started selling his art collection in department stores, and it’s a very famous story of how at one point he became so desperate for cash that Marion hocked her jewels to loan him $1 million. In 1941, San Simeon (like Xanadu) was still boarded up and in disrepair due to Hearst could no longer afford to maintain it, and the only reason it wasn’t repossessed by his many many many creditors was for the simple reason of “who the hell is gonna buy a 100 room castle when we’re just coming out of a depression?”.

There is actually one theory that Hearst’s attacks on marijuana (responsible for much of the demonization of the drug) were largely due to pressure from his creditors. The timber companies that supplied his newsprint (he was the world’s biggest purchaser of pulp) were worried that hemp might overtake them (so the story goes); Hearst, who was in the red to them for many millions, agreed to help them demonize the hemp industry in exchange for some leniency in their collection actions.

I imagine they found out like a friend of mine did. He said that the family was all gathered around grandma as it was nearing the end for her. Grandma held her hands up about a foot apart and said, “I want a cock this big!” :eek: