The perennial winner, at a trot, of all Best Movie Ever polls; it was hardly that awesome when it first appeared, but Time has been a favorable ally to this movie, which is, for one thing, a most convenient and crammed storehouse of cinematic tricks already executed or only dreamed of, up to that moment, 1941. As crammed as it is with sparkling ideas, it is inevitably more impressive for its individual set pieces, or set-ups, or sleights-of-hand, than it is for overall sense, or strength. And the sinister Expressionistic ambience is surely more useful for what it hides about the limited budget than for what it reveals about the William Randolph Hearst-ian hero. The principal characterization is never solider than in the perfect newsreel facsimile at the start of the movie; after that, it disperses into the shadows, the dramatic camera angles, the mummy makeup, the pop psychoanalysis. Starring and directed by Orson Welles, at age twenty-six; written by Herman Mankiewicz; photographed by Gregg Toland; with Joseph Cotten, Dorothy Comingore, Everett Sloan. (1941) — Duncan Shepherd
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