Citizen Kane

From Wikiquote
Jump to navigation Jump to search
If I hadn't been very rich, I might have been a really great man. — Charles Foster Kane
You don't love me. You want me to love you. — Susan Alexander Kane
Charles Foster Kane is a scoundrel. His paper should be run out of town. A committee should be formed to boycott him. You may, if you can form such a committee, put me down for a contribution of one thousand dollars. — Charles Foster Kane

Citizen Kane is a 1941 film that tells the story of powerful newspaper owner Charles Foster Kane, who was many things to many people, both in life and, retrospectively, in death. It is believed to be loosely based on the life of the newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and is widely considered one of the best American films ever.

Directed by Orson Welles. Written by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles.
The classic story of power and the press.taglines

Charles Foster Kane

  • The news goes on for 24 hours a day.
  • If the headline is big enough, it makes the news big enough.
  • As Charles Foster Kane who owns eighty-two thousand, six hundred and thirty-four shares of public transit - you see, I do have a general idea of my holdings - I sympathize with you. Charles Foster Kane is a scoundrel. His paper should be run out of town. A committee should be formed to boycott him. You may, if you can form such a committee, put me down for a contribution of one thousand dollars.
  • It's my duty and — I'll let you in on a little secret — it's also my pleasure to see to it that decent, hard-working people in this community aren't robbed blind by a pack of money-mad pirates, just because they haven't had anybody to look after their interests.
  • You're right. I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year! You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place in 60 years.
  • If I don't look after the interests of the underprivileged, maybe somebody else will. Maybe somebody without any money or property, and that would be too bad!
  • I always gagged on that silver spoon.
  • We have no secrets from our readers. Mr. Thatcher is one of our most devoted readers, Mr. Bernstein. He knows what's wrong with every issue since I've taken charge.
  • I was on my way to the Western Manhattan Warehouse in search of my youth. You see, my mother died a long time ago and her things were put in storage out West. There wasn't any other place to put them. I thought I'd send for them now. Tonight, I was going to take a look at them. You know, a sort of sentimental journey.
  • I run a couple of newspapers. What do you do?
  • [I entered this campaign] with one purpose only, to point out and make public the dishonesty, the downright villainy of Boss Jim W. Gettys' political machine, now in complete control of the government of this state. I made no campaign promises, because until a few weeks ago, I had no hope of being elected. Now however, I am something more than a hope. Jim Gettys, Jim Gettys has something less than a chance. Every straw vote, every independent poll shows that I'll be elected. Now I can afford to make some promises. The working man, the working man and the slum child know they can expect my best efforts in their interests. The nation's ordinary citizens know that I'll do everything in my power to protect the underprivileged, the underpaid, and the underfed.
  • I don't think there's one word that can describe a man's life.
  • A toast, Jedediah, to love on my terms. Those are the only terms anybody ever knows - his own.
  • Don't worry about me, Gettys. Don't worry about me. I'm Charles Foster Kane! I'm no cheap, crooked politician, trying to save himself from the consequences of his crimes! [louder] Gettys! I'm going to send you to Sing Sing! Sing Sing, Gettys! Sing Sing!
  • You can't buy a bag of peanuts in this town without someone writing a song about you.

Mr. Bernstein

  • Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Switzerland... he was thrown out of a lot of colleges.
  • President's niece, huh? Before Mr. Kane's through with her, she'll be a president's wife.
  • We never lost as much as we made.
  • [to Jedediah Leland] Mr. Kane is finishing the review you started - he's writing a bad notice. I guess that'll show you.
  • Old age. It's the only disease, Mr. Thompson, that you don't look forward to being cured of.
  • A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.
  • Well, it’s no trick to make a lot of money if all you want is to make a lot of money.

Jedediah Leland

  • I can remember everything. That's my curse, young man. It's the greatest curse that's ever been inflicted on the human race: memory.
I'd like to keep that particular piece of paper myself. I have a hunch it might turn out to be something pretty important, a document, like the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, and my first report card at school — Jedediah Leland.
  • [referring to Kane's 'Declaration of Principles'] I'd like to keep that particular piece of paper myself. I have a hunch it might turn out to be something pretty important, a document, like the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution, and my first report card at school.
  • I suppose he had some private sort of greatness, but he kept it to himself. He never gave himself away. He never gave anything away, he just left you a tip, hmm? Ha. He had a generous mind. I don't suppose anybody ever had so many opinions. But he never believed in anything except Charlie Kane. He never had a conviction except Charlie Kane in his life. I suppose he died without one. It must have been pretty unpleasant. Of course, a lot of us check out without having any special convictions about death, but we do know what we believe in, we do believe in something.
  • He married for love. Love. That's why he did everything. That's why he went into politics. It seems we weren't enough, he wanted all the voters to love him too. Guess all he really wanted out of life was love. That's Charlie's story, how he lost it. You see, he just didn't have any to give. Well, he loved Charlie Kane of course, very dearly, and his mother. I guess he always loved her.
  • You know, when I was a young man there used to be an impression around that nurses were pretty. Well, it was no truer then than it is today.

Newsreel Narrator

  • Legendary was Xanadu where Kubla Khan decreed his stately pleasure dome. Today, almost as legendary is Florida's Xanadu, world's largest private pleasure ground. Here, on the deserts of the Gulf Coast, a private mountain was commissioned and successfully built. One hundred thousand trees, twenty thousand tons of marble are the ingredients of Xanadu's mountain. Contents of Xanadu's palace: paintings, pictures, statues, the very stones of many another palace — a collection of everything so big it can never be catalogued or appraised, enough for ten museums — the loot of the world. Xanadu's livestock: the fowl of the air, the fish of the sea, the beast of the field and jungle. Two of each, the biggest private zoo since Noah. Like the pharaohs, Xanadu's landlord leaves many stones to mark his grave. Since the pyramids, Xanadu is the costliest monument a man has built to himself. Here in Xanadu last week, Xanadu's landlord was laid to rest: a potent figure of our century, America's Kubla Khan, Charles Foster Kane.
  • Kane helped to change the world, but Kane's world now is history. The great yellow journalist himself lived to be history, outlived his power to make it.
  • Alone in his never-finished, already decaying pleasure palace, aloof, seldom visited, never photographed, an emperor of new strength continued to direct his failing empire, varyingly attempted to sway as he once did the destinies of a nation that had ceased to listen to him, ceased to trust him. Then last week, as it must to all men, death came to Charles Foster Kane.


  • Rawlston: It isn't enough to tell us what a man did. You've got to tell us who he was.
  • Walter Parks Thatcher: Mr. Charles Foster Kane, in every essence of his social beliefs, and by the dangerous manner in which he has persistently attacked the American traditions of private property, initiative, and opportunity for advancement, is in fact, nothing more or less than a Communist!
  • Politician: The words of Charles Foster Kane are a menace to every working man in this land. He is today what he has always been, and always will be: a Fascist!
  • Susan: [referring to Xanadu] Oh, a person could go crazy in this dump with nobody to talk to, nobody to have any fun with. Forty-nine thousand acres of nothing but scenery and statues. I'm lonesome.
  • Raymond: [last lines] Throw that junk in!


Rawlston: Maybe he told us all about himself on his deathbed.
Jerry Thompson: Yeah, and maybe he didn't. Maybe it was just a—
Rawlston: All we saw on that screen was a big American.
Thompson: One of the biggest!
Rawlston: But how is he any different from Ford? Or Hearst for that matter? Or John Doe?
Thompson: Yeah, sure!
Rawlston: I tell you, Thompson, a man's dying words—
Newsman: What were they?
Thompson: Oh, you don't read the papers? [laughter]
Rawlston: When Charles Foster Kane died, he said just one word.
Thompson: Rosebud.
Newsman: Tough guy, huh? Dies calling for Rosebud.
Rawlston: Just that one word! But who is she?
Newsman: What was it?
Rawlston: Here's a man that could have been president, who was as loved and hated and as talked about as any man in our time, but when he comes to die he's got something on his mind called Rosebud. Now what does that mean?
Newsman: It's a race horse he bet on once.
Newsman: Yeah, that didn't come in.
Rawlston: All right. But what was the race?

Thatcher's secretary: [Quoting from Kane's letter] "Sorry, but I'm not interested in gold mines, oil wells, shipping or real estate. One item"—
Walter Parks Thatcher: Nonsense! [snatches the letter] Now see: "One item on your list intrigues me: the New York Inquirer, a little newspaper I understand we acquired in a foreclosure proceeding. Please don't sell it. I'm coming back to America to take charge. I think it would be fun to run a newspaper." [repeating] "I think it would be fun to run a newspaper!"

Charles: Now look, Mr. Carter, here's a front-page story in the Chronicle about a Mrs. Harry Silverstone in Brooklyn who's missing. Now, she's probably murdered. Here's a picture of her in the Chronicle. Why isn't there something about it in the Inquirer?
Carter: Because we are running a newspaper. There's no proof that that woman is murdered, or even that she's dead...It's not our function to report the gossip of housewives. If we were interested in that kind of thing, Mr. Kane, we could fill the paper twice over daily.
Charles: Mr. Carter, that's the kind of thing we are going to be interested in, from now on.

Leland: These men who were with the Chronicle. Weren't they just as devoted to the Chronicle politics as they are now to our policies?
Bernstein: Sure, they're just like anybody else. They got work to do, they do it! Only they happen to be the best men in the business!
Leland: Do we stand for the same things the Chronicle stands for, Bernstein?
Bernstein: Certainly not. Listen, Mr. Kane, he'll have them changed to his kind of newspapermen in a week!
Leland: There's always a chance, of course, that they'll change Mr. Kane, without his knowing it.

Sometimes, I think I'd prefer a rival of flesh-and-blood — Emily.
Emily: Sometimes, I think I'd prefer a rival of flesh-and-blood.
Charles: Oh Emily, I don't spend that much time on the newspaper.
Emily: It isn't just the time. It's what you print-attacking the President.
Charles: You mean Uncle John.
Emily: I mean the President of the United States.
Charles: He's still Uncle John, and he's still a well-meaning fathead who's letting a pack of high-pressure crooks run his administration. This whole oil scandal—
Emily: He happens to be the President, Charles, not you.
Charles: That's a mistake that will be corrected one of these days.

Emily: Really Charles, people will think-
Charles: -what I tell them to think.

Charles: You know, Mr. Bernstein, if I hadn't been very rich, I might have been a really great man.
Walter Parks Thatcher: Don't you think you are?
Charles: I think I did pretty well under the circumstances.
Walter Parks Thatcher: What would you like to have been?
Charles: Everything you hate.

Charles: Six years ago, I looked at a picture of the world's greatest newspaper men. I felt like a kid in front of a candy store. Well, tonight, six years later, I got my candy-all of it. Welcome, gentlemen, to the Inquirer! Make up an extra copy of that picture and send it to the Chronicle, will you please? It'll make you all happy to learn that our circulation this morning was the greatest in New York, 684,000.
Bernstein: Six hundred and eighty-four thousand one hundred and thirty-two!
Charles: Right! Having thus welcomed you, I hope you'll forgive my rudeness in taking leave of you. I'm going abroad next week for a vacation. I've promised my doctor for some time now that I'd leave when I could, and I now realize that I can't.
Bernstein: Say, Mr. Kane, as long as you're promising, there's a lot of pictures and statues in Europe you haven't bought yet.
Charles: You can't blame me, Mr. Bernstein. They've been making statues for two thousand years, and I've only been buying for five.
Bernstein: Promise me, Mr. Kane.
Charles: I promise you, Mr. Bernstein.
Bernstein: Thank you.
Charles: Mr. Bernstein? You don't expect me to keep any of those promises, do you?

Leland: You still eating?
Charles: I'm still hungry.

Charles: Are we going to declare war on Spain, or are we not?
Leland: The Inquirer already has.
Charles: You long-faced, overdressed anarchist!
Leland: I am not overdressed!
Charles: You are too. Mr. Bernstein, look at his necktie.

Charles: Read the cable.
Bernstein: "Girls delightful in Cuba. Stop. Could send you prose poems about scenery, but don't feel right spending your money. Stop. There is no war in Cuba, signed Wheeler." Any answer?
Charles: Yes. "Dear Wheeler: you provide the prose poems. I'll provide the war."

Leland: Bernstein, am I a stuffed shirt? Am I a horse-faced hypocrite? Am I a New England school marm?
Bernstein: Yes. If you thought I'd answer you any differently than what Mr. Kane tells you...

Charles Foster Kane III: Mother, is Pop governor yet?
Emily: Not yet, Junior.

Charles: This gentleman was saying...
Jim Gettys: I'm not a gentleman. [To Emily] Your husband's only trying to be funny calling me one. I don't even know what a gentleman is. You see, my idea of a gentleman...Well, Mrs. Kane, if I owned a newspaper and I didn't like the way somebody was doing things, some politician say, I'd fight him with everything I had. Only I wouldn't show him in a convict's suit with stripes so his children could see the picture in the paper, or his mother.

You decided what you were going to do, Charles, some time ago — Emily.
Charles: [after his affair with Susan is revealed] I'm staying here. I can fight this all alone.
Emily: Charles, if you don't listen to reason, it may be too late.
Charles: Too late. For what? For you and this public thief to take the love of the people of this state away from me?
Susan: Charlie, you got other things to think about. Your little boy, you don't want him to read about you in the papers.
Charles: There's only one person in the world who decides what I'm going to do, and that's me.
Emily: You decided what you were going to do, Charles, some time ago.

Charles: I set back the sacred cause of reform, is that it? All right, that's the way they want it, the people have made their choice. It's obvious the people prefer Jim Gettys to me.
Leland: You talk about the people as though you owned them, as though they belong to you. Goodness. As long as I can remember, you've talked about giving the people their rights, as if you can make them a present of liberty, as a reward for services rendered. Remember the working man?
Charles: I'll get drunk too, Jedediah, if it'll do any good.
Leland: Ah, it won't do any good. Besides, you never get drunk. You used to write an awful lot about the workingman. He's turning into something called organized labor. You're not going to like that one little bit when you find out it means that your working man expects something as his right, not as your gift! Charlie, when your precious underprivileged really get together, oh boy! That's going to add up to something bigger than your privileges! Then I don't know what you'll do! Sail away to a desert island probably and lord it over the monkeys!
Charles: I wouldn't worry about it too much, Jed. There'll probably be a few of them there to let me know when I do something wrong.
Leland: Mmm, you may not always be so lucky. You don't care about anything except you. You just want to persuade people that you love 'em so much that they ought to love you back. Only you want love on your own terms. Something to be played your way, according to your rules.

[On Kane finishing Leland's bad review of Susan's opera singing]
Thompson: Everybody knows that story, Mr. Leland. But why did he do it? How could a man write a notice like that?
Leland: You just don't know Charlie. He thought that by finishing that notice he could show me he was an honest man. He was always trying to prove something. The whole thing about Susie being an opera singer, that was trying to prove something. You know what the headline was the day before the election? "Candidate Kane found in love nest with quote, singer, unquote." He was gonna take the quotes off the singer.

Thompson: He made an awful lot of money.
Bernstein: Well, it's no trick to make a lot of money, if all you want is to make a lot of money.

Reporter: [Asking about the potential for war in Europe] Isn't that correct?
Charles: Don't believe everything you hear on the radio. Read the 'Inquirer'!
Reporter: How did you find business conditions in Europe?
Charles: How did I find business conditions in Europe, Mr. Bones? With great difficulty. [laughs]
Reporter: You glad to be back, Mr. Kane?
Charles: I'm always glad to be back, young man. I'm an American. Always been an American. Anything else? When I was a reporter, we asked them quicker than that. Come on, young fella.
Reporter: What do you think of the chances for war in Europe?
Charles: I've talked with the responsible leaders of the Great Powers - England, France, Germany, and Italy - they're too intelligent to embark on a project which would mean the end of civilization as we now know it. You can take my word for it. There'll be no war.

Walter Parks Thatcher: You're too old to call me "Mr. Thatcher," Charles.
Charles: You're too old to be called anything else. You were always too old.

Charles: Hello, Jedediah.
Leland: Hello, Charlie. I didn't know we were speaking.
Charles: Sure, we're speaking, Jedediah. You're fired.

Susan: You're awful funny, aren't you? I'll tell you one thing you're not going to be funny about, and that's my singing. I'm through. I never wanted to do it in the first place.
Charles: You will continue with your singing, Susan. I don't propose to have myself made ridiculous.
Susan: You don't propose to have yourself made ridiculous?! What about me? I'm the one who's got to do the singing. I'm the one who gets the raspberries. Why don't you let me alone?

Susan: Oh sure, you give me things, but that don't mean anything to you.
Charles: You're in a tent, darling. You aren't at home. I can hear you very well if you speak in a normal tone of voice.
Susan: What's the difference between giving me a bracelet or giving somebody else a hundred thousand dollars for a statue you're gonna keep crated up and never even look at? It's just money. It doesn't mean anything! You never really give me anything that belongs to you, that you care about!
Charles: Susan, I want you to stop this.
Susan: I'm not gonna stop it.
Charles: Right now!
Susan: You never gave me anything in your whole life. You just tried to bribe me into giving you something.
Charles: Susan!

Charles: Whatever I do, I do because I love you.
Susan: You don't love me. You want me to love you. "Sure, I'm Charles Foster Kane. Whatever you want, just name it and it's yours. But you've got to love me!" [Kane slaps her] Don't tell me you're sorry.
Charles: I'm not sorry.

[Susan is leaving Kane]
Susan: Goodbye Charlie.
Charles: Susan. Please don't go. No. Please, Susan. From now on, everything will be exactly the way you want it to be, not the way I think you want it, but your way. You mustn't go. You can't do this to me.
Susan: I see. So it's you that this is being done to. It's not me at all. Not what it means to me. [laughs] I can't do this to you? Oh, yes I can. [leaves]

Reporter 1: What's that?
Reporter 2: Another Venus.
Reporter 1: Twenty-five thousand bucks. That's a lot of money to pay for a dame without a head.

Female reporter: If you could've found out what Rosebud meant, I bet that would've explained everything.
Thompson: No, I don't think so; no. Mr. Kane was a man who got everything he wanted and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn't get, or something he lost. Anyway, it wouldn't have explained anything. I don't think any word can explain a man's life. No, I guess Rosebud is just a piece in a jigsaw puzzle, a missing piece.


  • It's Terrific!
  • Everybody's talking about it!
  • The classic story of power and the press.
  • I hate him! I love him! He's a scoundrel! He's a saint! He's crazy! He's a genius!
  • Some called him a hero. Others called him a heel...


Wikipedia has an article about: