RKO 281 (1999)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Docudrama, Showbiz Drama  |   Release Date - Nov 20, 1999 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 87 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom , United States   |   MPAA Rating - R
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Review by Michael Costello

This fact-based drama about the creation of Orson Welles' masterwork Citizen Kane is sabotaged by its mediocre script, despite an excellent cast. The creation of Kane is Hollywood legend, full of outsized characters and backstage conniving leading to a tragic denouement. The script however, opts to simplify characters and streamline events. For example, the permanently mysterious question of the film's screenplay credit is handled in such a way that the story loses the interest of knowledgeable viewers yet remains dramatically inert to those unfamiliar with the history. Liev Schreiber does his best with a Welles so hollow that the writer seems to have ignored the mountain of Welles scholarship available. The script fares better with Kane's screenwriter, self-loathing N.Y. intellectual Herman Mankiewicz, brought brilliantly to life by John Malkovich. The rest of the outstanding cast, including Melanie Davis, Roy Scheider, James Cromwell, and Brenda Blethyn give their best.