Citizen Kane is widely regarded as one of the best films ever made, appearing on many "Greatest Movie" lists just underneath The Godfather for the supreme title of Greatest Movie Ever, even though it has no business being ranked on any list higher than The Godfather III — and we all know The Godfather III sucked!
I wanted to like Citizen Kane, I really did. The movie begins with an exterior shot of Hogwarts; better know in the film as Kane's mansion, nicknamed "Xanadu." After the opening scene of the snow globe shattering on the floor as Kane whispered his last word, "Rosebud," before dying, I was hoping we just witnessed Tommy Westphall, the autistic kid whose imagination through staring at a snow globe brought us the TV show St. Elsewhere, all grown-up and ready to bring us another round of crazy.
A group of reporters are sent into a frenzy trying to decipher the last word ever spoke by Charles Foster Kane (played by Orson Welles), the millionaire newspaper tycoon. A newsreel montage worthy of being in a 1980's movie details Kane's rise to power, his abundant life, and ultimate downfall using a narrator that sounds like someone you'd hear on an old sex education documentary. Here we find out that Kane was a hoarder, describing the mansion as having all the "loot of the world," especially an impressive collection of statues.
After an unsuccessful bid for political office, his relationships with those around him begin to deteriorate, especially with his wife Susan whom he basically kidnaps and forces to stay in the mansion as he becomes more and more reclusive. She eventually breaks free and leaves him, presumably so he can continue his love affair with his statues. He dies alone — an old, broken man whispering the word "Rosebud." The meaning of the word Rosebud is never decrypted by the end of the movie... at least not by the press! The "clever" reveal to the audience comes as we witness his belongings being incinerated. A seemingly innocent sleigh is placed on top of the fire with the word "ROSEBUD" painted on its body.
And when asked how Kane's last words would be known when he died all alone, Orson Welles stared confusingly for a long time like Shaquille O'Neal brushing up on the "Theory of Molecular Dynamics" before saying, "Don't you ever tell anyone of this."
What You Don't Know
Citizen Kane was quite obviously based on the real-life newspaper magnate, William Randolph Hearst — who was, by all accounts, infuriated with this movie, even going as far as creating a smear campaign by accusing Orson Welles of being a Communist and forbade any advertisement of the film in any of his newspapers. This resulted in the film being a flop at the box office flop, getting booed every time one of its nine nominations was announced at the Academy Awards, was then locked in a vault and only re-released in the mid-1950s.
Why all the hostility? Well, according to an essay written by Gore Vidal, "Rosebud" was William Hearst's nickname for long-time mistress Marion Davies' clitoris! That's right, Charles Kane might as well have died saying, "Mmmm... clitoris" like Homer Simpson to a doughnut, giving credence to the notion that men only think about sex even up until our last dying breath.
Famous Last Words That Would Have Been Even Better
We will all die, that's a fact. On our deathbed some want to leave behind words of wisdom to family or friends, maybe confess to crimes they've committed, or just talk about someone's mistress' pussy, as in the case above. Or maybe, just maybe you want to spout one last badass quote before you become worm food and live on for eternity known as the guy who required a second cemetery plot for his gigantic balls.
#10. "I should never have switched from Scotch to Martinis." — Humphrey Bogart
Said before dying from cancer of the esophagus.
#9. "Now, now, my good man, this is no time for making enemies." — Voltaire
Said when asked by a priest to renounce Satan. Probably known for being the most defiantly blasphemous last words ever uttered. Until you read...
#8. "Dammit…Don’t you dare ask God to help me." - Joan Crawford
Said to her housekeeper who began to pray aloud after Crawford suffered a heart attack. Yeah, that raises the blasphemy to heights past heaven itself.
#7. "Hey, fellas! How about this for a headline for tomorrow’s paper? ‘French Fries’!" — James French
Said by SHOUTED by convicted murderer James French to members of the press who were to witness his execution by way of the electric chair.
#6. "It’s stopped." — Joseph Henry Green
Said upon checking his own fucking pulse!
#5. "Hurry up, you Hoosier bastard, I could kill ten men while you’re fooling around!" — Carl Panzram
Said by serial killer Carl Panzram shortly before he was executed by hanging. Good to see a guy with a sense of humor all the way to the end.
#4. “I am about to — or I am going to — die: either expression is correct.” — Dominique Bouhours
Said by legendary French grammarian Dominique Bouhours to "demonstrate his proficiency in grammatical construction, syntax and clarity even in the face of near-death frailty." And people on Facebook still can't get "their", "there", and "they're" correct.
#3. "Relax. This won't hurt." — Hunter S. Thompson
Written by Hunter S. Thompson, the famous author of "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" as the last line of his suicide note.
#2. "Take a step or two forward, lads. It will be easier that way." — Robert Erskine Childers
Said by soldier Robert Erskine Childers to his firing squad before he was executed in 1922 during the Irish Civil War.
#1. "I have had 18 straight whiskies, I think that's the record." — Dylan Thomas
Said by poet Dylan Thomas who fell ill while drinking with at a Manhattan bar and slipped into a coma, dying four days later. I'm pretty sure that's still a record, although I have come close to breaking it a time or two.
BONUS: "Van Halen!" — Dimebag Darrell Abbott
Said by guitar legend "Dimebag" Darrell Abbott during the final bit of stage banter before he was shot and killed onstage. FUCKING HOSTILE!