No other picture of 1941 was more volubly discussed than Orson Welles' Citizen Kane. When RKO commissioned a picture from Welles, who had made a reputation in radio and as director of the Mercury Theater in New York, he was to have carte blanche as to story. He was to be author, producer, director, and, as this still indicates, the star. Charles Chaplin is the only other man, thus far, ever to have combined all these functions; even be had to own his studio before he was able to do this. The picture received sensational publicity for its alleged paralleling of the life story of a famous living newspaper publisher; and there was much gossip regarding threats of suppression and retaliation. In fact, the Hearst press never advertised, reviewed, or mentioned the film or Welles. Citizen Kane didn't need the publicity, for it was an engrossing film.
The critical acclaim approached hysteria, one critic stating that "the motion-picture industry will be learning from Citizen Kane for five years to come." Gregg Toland was the photographer.
There was excellent acting in the picture, particularly by Dorothy Comingore as Kane's second wife, and by Welles himself, in the title role.
Citizen Kane was an extraordinary achievement for a young man of twenty-five with no motion-picture experience of any sort.
Another Warner picture of 1941 was Sergeant York, a biography of the World War I hero. Gary Cooper, as the rustic conscientious objector who became the famous soldier, added to his list of fine performances. Joan Leslie, who played his sweetheart, was likewise excellent.
Though Warner's production of Kings Row was overlong and somber, Sam Woods direction kept the story moving eloquently. The leads were played by Ann Sheridan, Betty Field, Ronald Reagan, and, above, Robert Cummings and Claude Rains.