America did not invent motion pictures, but we realized early on that there was no better way to tell American stories. Movies have many of the same things we like about ourselves: a lean towards bigger-than-life spectacle, a constant thirst for technological innovation, a seemingly boundless capacity to make and spend money. And a great many writers and critics have cashed a great many checks by stepping back, looking at American cinema as a whole, and drawing connections between our movies and the stories tell about ourselves. But there may be no more American movie than Citizen Kane.
It literally has everything. The story of an incredibly powerful and unthinkably rich media mogul, who rises from poverty and obscurity through cunning manipulation to stand among the most powerful men in the world, only to be brought low by scandal and hubris, Citizen Kane clusters together all the themes we Americans like: bootstrap ingenuity, the power of celebrity and propaganda, the sordid and unknowable inner lives of the elite, our love/hate relationship with the free press, and the tragic flaw of pride. But behind the screen it’s an American tale too. All the principal actors were new to film and mostly experienced in live theatre — and don’t we love an underdog? Its filming required the invention of new lenses and camera techniques; it was Orson Welles’ first film as a director (he was only 25 at the time). And the entire production was his vision — he produced, directed, co-wrote and starred in it. On every level it’s the story of a genius, a tyrant, a striver, a monster, a king. It’s an exceptional film, universally regarded as one of the greatest ever made, and we shall never see its like again.
This screening is FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC in celebration of Tampa Theatre’s 91st birthday. Doors & bar open at 2:00pm