101 - Citizen Kane (1941)

As Charles Foster Kane (Orson Welles) breathes his last breath he drops a snowglobe while uttering his final word - "rosebud".

After a newspaper editor witnesses a standard obituary reel of the dead businessman's life he orders one of his journalists to investigate exactly what Kane meant with his dying word.

The journalist digs deep into Kane's life revealing a man who had it all and threw it all away.
Theatrical Poster
Source: Wikipedia

Citizen Kane is often touted as the greatest film of all time. It's a bold statement to make, not least because it was created at the start of the 1940's - an era renowned for its wealth in cinematic masterpieces.

At the beginning of the film there is little evidence of Citizen Kane's stature. A boy stolen from his parent's at birth who inherits a fortune at 25 is hardly inspiring - especially when the journalist fails to get any information from Kane's scatty ex-wife - the woman who arguably knew him best.

As the film trundles on though it becomes infuriating. Telling a man's life and revealing his innermost secrets the sheer audacity of Welles becomes realised. The non-linear storyline is risky, but bizarrely the story could not be told any other way. The initial confusion of the viewer is exactly why no-one can possibly see the final scene coming. A quiet, subtle, collective murmur of appreciation must have been the most common sound from 1941 theatres.

In my opinion Casablanca is better - but Citizen Kane has thrown down a gauntlet to mystery films that still hasn't been beaten in 70 years.