Saturday, August 27, 2005

Reason No. 292 Why 'Citizen Kane' is King
Mrs. Kane's introduction to the "Singer"

In between Kane's grandiose storytelling, RKO Radio-quality humor and groundbreaking visuals is a scene depicting a genuine emotional rollercoaster courtesy of Boss Gettys' Darwinian politics and Kane's only weakness: his greed.

As Kane leaves the opera house following his near-victory speech in front of a two story poster of himself he sees Emily putting Junior in a car. As he approaches, he waves goodbye to his son and looks into his wife's eyes, and realizes that his lifelong political dream was about to come crashing down.

Orson Welles' artistic genius is on display for these brief moments, when his characters say little, but their faces speak paragraphs. We see in Emily a woman who has been playing the role of Kane's wife for years but is ready for it to end at the house of Susan Alexander. Kane's morose expression gives us a glimpse of a man who perhaps minutes before experienced the greatest euphoria of his life, only to see his own deeds bring him down. Out of pride, he goes with Emily to Susan's house, but he knows that he has lost.

At Susan's house, as Kane's mistress is exposed to Emily with vicious honesty, the show is nearly stolen by Gettys, who displays the utmost confidence in the cold-hearted political tactic being used against his opponent Kane, who made him out to be the city's greatest criminal during the campaign.

As the scene comes to a close and Kane refuses to budge on his campaign, yelling to Gettys that he will send him to Sing Sing, Welles makes an interesting directorial decision. It's no accident the attention Welles' lens pays to Gettys and Emily at the finale of the scene. Gettys politely offers Emily a ride home, showing no ill-will of the act of his own that just ruined Kane's marriage and election.

I believe Welles uses this brief dialogue to show that acts like Gettys are commonplace in politics and are to be expected, especially from a veteran like Gettys. Unlike Kane, Gettys shows no emotion during the scene, because to him a tactic such as exposing his opponent as an adulterer is just another day at the office.

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