RKO 281

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RKO 281 is a 1999 historical drama film about director Orson Welles as he produces his greatest film, Citizen Kane (1941), despite the opposition of the film's de facto subject, William Randolph Hearst.

Directed by Benjamin Ross. Written by John Logan, based on The Battle Over Citizen Kane by Richard Ben Cramer and Thomas Lennon.
What went on the screen was nothing compared to what went on behind the scenes.taglines

Orson Welles[edit]

  • [to George] Everything I am, everything I could be is in that picture!
  • Who are these men you're afraid of? Who are these tiny fucking men? They're accountants.
  • [Addressing the RKO shareholders]Good afternoon. Today, a man from Germany invaded Greece. He's already swallowed Poland, Denmark, Norway and Belgium. He's bombing London as I speak. Everywhere this man goes, he crushes the life and the freedom of his subjects. He sews yellow stars on their lapels, he takes their voices. In this country, we still have our voices. We can argue with them, and we can sing, and we can be heard because we are, for the moment, free. No one can tell us what to say or how to say it, can they? Gentlemen, I am one voice; that is all. My picture is one voice, one view, one opinion, nothing more. Men are dying in Europe now, and Americans soon will be so that we can surmount the tyrants and the dictators. Will you send a message across America that one man can take away our voices? So, who is Mr. Hearst, and who is Mr. Welles? Well, Mr. Hearst built a palace of brick and mortar, and little wars and corpses piled high. Mr. Welles built a palace of illusion. It's a, what we call a matte painting, it's a camera trick, it's nothing. Nothing but a dream. Today, you have the chance to let the dream triumph. Thank you.

Herman Mankiewicz[edit]

  • Every man loves, Orson. Or has loved.

William Randolph Hearst[edit]

  • There is nothing to understand. Only this: I am a man who could have been great, but was not.


  • Welles's Mother: Orson, come into the light. Never stand in the shadows -- you were made for the light. Always remember that.


Herman Mankiewicz: What about Marion?
Orson Welles: She's just another piece in his collection. Another animal in his zoo.
Herman Mankiewicz: Well to Hearst, that is love. "I love you, I built you a beautiful cage."

Orson Welles: [Referring to San Simeon] So how big is this monstrosity?
Herman Mankiewicz: The estate? Half the size of Rhode Island.
Orson Welles: You're kidding.
Herman Mankiewicz: No, it's the place God would have built if he had the money.

Orson Welles: We need to change the name.
Herman Mankiewicz: What? The title?
Orson Welles: No, no. It's a grand title, "American". I was thinking more the character name. Charles Foster Craig doesn't have the "knives-out" poetry I was looking for.
Herman Mankiewicz: Okay.
Orson Welles: I was thinking of Kane.
Herman Mankiewicz: As in Abel?
Orson Welles: K-A-N-E. One strong syllable, Kane.
Herman Mankiewicz: Craig is one syllable.
Orson Welles: Yes... But it's not a great syllable.

Herman Mankiewicz: Listen to me, you child. He doesn't worry about legalities. Do you know why? Because he has more power than you could even hope to imagine.
Orson Welles: All the more reason to do it!
Herman Mankiewicz: 'Cause he insulted you at a dinner party?
Orson Welles: Because he's a hypocrite! Because he's a... A political turncoat. He claims to care about the common man when nothing could be further from the truth!
Herman Mankiewicz: Oh, he's a journalist. He owns Hollywood. We're the shit on his shoes. You better go back to Broadway, kiddo.
Orson Welles: I expected more from you, Mank.
Herman Mankiewicz: Yeah, me too, but I got used to it.
Orson Welles: How does that feel getting used to it? How does that feel going up to the palace and amusing the lords and ladies with the same old stories they've heard a hundred times before? How does it feel being the ugly, little monkey they keep around to amuse themselves?

Marion Davies: Did you need any of them?
William Randolph Hearst: I wanted them.
Marion Davies: And there is the difference between want and need.
William Randolph Hearst: Not to me.

William Randolph Hearst: My battle with the world is almost over. Yours I'm afraid has just begun.
Orson Welles: Kane would've taken the tickets.

Herman Mankiewicz: Was it worth it?
Orson Welles: I don't know. I can't imagine doing it any other way. I suppose it's just my character.
Herman Mankiewicz: It won't be easy having made your masterpiece at 26.
Orson Welles: Is that what you think - that I'm just going to burn out at the ripe old age of 26?
Herman Mankiewicz: All stars burn out, Orson. It's the flame that counts.
Orson Welles: [toasting] To the flame.
Herman Mankiewicz: To the flame.


  • What went on the screen was nothing compared to what went on behind the scenes.
  • The true, behind-the-scenes story of the making of the greatest movie of all time, Citizen Kane.
  • Orson Welles used all his genius to create "Citizen Kane". William Randolph Hearst used all his power to try and destroy it.


External links[edit]

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