1941 “CITIZEN KANE” Review Drops ROTTEN TOMATOES Score to 99%

CITIZEN KANE, Orson Welles, 1941, running for governor

When a classic movie from time periods such as the Golden Age of Cinema in the early 20th Century are listed in review aggregator sites like Rotten Tomatoes, then it is almost certain to have a 100% average review score. The reasons range from the aggregators taking into consideration contemporary reviews written at the time of the film’s original release, or the nostalgic lens tended to be worn by more modern reviewers, who see the legendary stars or filmmakers involved. The 1941 movie from RKO Pictures, “Citizen Kane” starring and directed by Orson Welles, used to have a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, until recently.

Why? Because as told by The Hollywood Reporter, review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes has added a contemporary newspaper review of “Citizen Kane” to their total reviews of the classic movie. Unfortunately that review was negative, and now the average percentage has gone down to 99% after some time with a perfect average. Unchanged is RT’s critical consensus statement which reads: “Orson Welles’s epic tale of a publishing tycoon’s rise and fall is entertaining, poignant, and inventive in its storytelling, earning its reputation as a landmark achievement in film.” But the 100% rating is now gone forever.

Rotten Tomatoes has been performing an Archival project wherein they try to include reviews of films dated from their respective original release years. This added to their 116 reviews for “Citizen Kane” a piece published in the Chicago Tribune from 1941, written by reviewer Mae Tinée. A scan of the printed review was added to RT in March, and that 80-year-old piece marred the RKO classic’s perfect record. Online speculation is running on the idea that Mae Tinée (probably an alias) was a fan of newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst, supposedly the basis for Orson Welles’ lead character Charles Foster Kane. Hearst tried to smear the film during its run.

“Citizen Kane” is in the spotlight regarding entertainment discussion due to it being a major element of Netflix film “Mank,” a biopic starring Gary Oldman as Herman J. “Mank” Mankiewicz, who co-wrote the screenplay with Welles. “Mank” got the most nominations at the 93rd Academy Awards held this past Sunday, but only won Best Cinematography.

Image courtesy of Entertainment Weekly

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