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Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  146 ratings  ·  22 reviews
With the approach of the 75th anniversary of Citizen Kane in May 2016, Harlan Lebo has written the full story of Orson Welles' masterpiece film. The book will explore:

--Welles' meteoric rise to stardom in New York and the real reason behind his arrival in Hollywood

--Welles' unprecedented contract with RKO Studios for total creative control and the deeper issues that impede
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published April 26th 2016 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2000)
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Jun 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016, factual
Geeky, but in a good way...

As a casual and totally unknowledgeable movie watcher, I've never appreciated Citizen Kane as much as I feel I should. I've always been aware that the reason for this is that largely I watch films on a pretty superficial level, for the plot and acting, whereas often with these films that are designated as 'great' it's as much for cinematography, innovative technique etc. So this looked like the perfect book to help me understand just what it is I'm missing about a film
Jun 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing in-depth account of this movie. And I have never seen the whole thing in one seating yet. I certainly will now. Orson Welles has been a favorite, I've been in love with his voice. In addition, it still amuses me that my Grandfather was taken in by his radio program The War of the Worlds. Not sure where he was packing up to go at the must have been hysterical... LOL

Anyway... there is so much to the making of this film, the story, film making techniques, the hype, all of
Kris - My Novelesque Life
Apr 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey
Written by Harlan Lebo
APRIL 26, 2016; 384 Pages
Genre: classic Hollywood, film history, history, biography

(I received an ARC from the NETGALLEY in exchange for an honest review.)


Next month (May) will be the 75th anniversary of one of the greatest movies, Citizen Kane. Actor/Director/Writer, Orson Welles is best known for his portrayal of Kane (who is based on publisher Hearst) as well his direction of the play. Surrounding Welles and this production of this
Dec 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Citizen Kane has been my #1 favorite film for probably a majority of my life on this earth as a huge film fanatic, and there's good reason for it. There's simply nothing like it. Every time I watch it I am blown away by its originality, its artistic focus, and how ahead-of-his-time Orson Welles truly was as a filmmaker in 1940-41. Other fans of this film owe it to themselves to read Harlan Lebo's very comprehensive and well-researched book on the making of this film. Not only does it dissect the ...more
Ross Bonaime
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
As the name implies, I hoped that Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey would primarily be about Orson Welles' arrival in Hollywood, his trials creating his first film and the troubles with William Randolph Hearst that damned the film for many years. This is all there, but when writer Harlan Lebo gets into the filming of Citizen Kane, his book becomes insanely dry, breaking down transitions between shots and getting into incredibly minuscule details. I'm usually a sucker for this type of film brea ...more
Jan 29, 2019 rated it really liked it
Fairly thorough look at the making of Citizen Kane, background of Welles and the controversy surrounding the films creation and release. Interesting read. Recommended if you want to more about the film.
Oct 09, 2017 rated it liked it
A lot of technical stuff about movie-making in this book, but overall an interesting account of how an unexpectedly great movie got made. Also a cautionary tale of why it is so dangerous for one man to control so much media, both in the movie and in real life.
Matt Gore
Jul 21, 2017 rated it really liked it
The last third of the book petered out a little for me.
Part 1 was a fascinating account of the making of Citizen Kane. Orson Welles was amazing.
Part 1 is amazing.
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Good overall summary of the reasons Citizen Kane remains great. Good the film buff and the expert. .
Dec 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Loved every page from beginning to end. Highly informative and well researched. This underdog story has me more convinced than ever that CK is the greatest film of all time. Incredible!
Cinematic Cteve
Mar 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is the only book you need on this great American film, unless you're a Welles compleatist. Lebo charts the phenomenal rise of the artist as a young man, who made Kane at 25 and spent the rest of his life trying to surpass that freshman masterpiece. He never did, despite the arguments you may hear from Welles apologists who swear The Magnificent Ambersons is better. Or Touch of Evil. Or the Trial. Or even F for Fake. They're not. If they were, there would be books about those lesser films. ...more
Christi Balisti
Feb 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm currently obsessed with Citizen Kane, and I am now obsessed with this book!!! ...more
George Majchrzak
Jul 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
Lebo's book about the greatest film ever is impressive in its detail, as carefully considered as the film itself. I certainly recommend it for fans of the movie, of Welles, and of cinema in general because of the wealth of information contained here. However, the book's greatest strength is also its main flaw: it is so comprehensive, so thorough that it feels bloated at times, excessive, like it's going to buckle under its own weight. The book itself is a metaphor for Kane's appetites and his Xa ...more
Michael Ritchie
Jun 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
Just when you think there can't be anything more to read about Citizen Kane comes this; there may be a lot of new material here, but it serves as a solid summarizing of almost everything that's been published (and whispered) about the making of the movie masterpiece, the attempt by Hearst to suppress it, and its reception by critics and the public. For the most part, Lebo does not try to definitely say what is truth and what is myth--given all the contradictory things that have been said over th ...more
Dani Robinson
Apr 29, 2016 rated it liked it
This book was definitely interesting I felt like the first couple chapters were excellent and enjoyed learning about the great man that was Orson Welles, but as the book went on and as the details got more and more drawn out I realized this book probably has a very particular market. And I am not that market I do enjoy the movie Citizen Kane and appreciate it for the groundbreaking work that it was but this book is like for super film nerds. People who enjoy the minutia of how a movie is made do ...more
Steve Gross
Jul 27, 2016 rated it it was ok
It feels like this book was written by the numbers. Interview all remaining cast and crew, divide the production into areas - photography, sets, makeup, etc and then regurgitate. Moreover, the author becomes almost fulsome in some of his repetitive descriptions. There is nothing personal or reflective in the telling.
Aug 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Despite having seen the film at least a dozen times and having read everything I could get my hands on about Orson Welles I still learned a few things from this breezy account of the making of Citizen Kane.
Ystyn Francis
May 05, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: film, non-fiction
Sometimes five star in quality, sometimes two, this was in equal parts enthralling and monotonous. Of most interest was the explanation of the 'special effects' in the film but, at times, it was guilty of focusing on minutiae that wasn't really important or interesting to me. ...more
Doug Long
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
Good detailed research from the situation at RKO that made Orson Welles' unprecedented autonomy possible through the Hearst organization's attempts to have the film destroyed through its critical ascension in the decades since. ...more
Oct 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Generally a fascinating study of the path to and through the production and release of Citizen Kane.
Jason Schneeberger
Dec 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent book about a superb film that will never be topped! This book is a MUST HAVE for any fan of Citizen Kane!
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