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Citizen Kane is a 1941 dramatic film, directed by Orson Welles who also played the title character.
The film opens with the death of wealthy newspaper magnate Charles Foster Kane, followed shortly afterwards by a short newsreel about his life. A reporter called Jerry Thompson is tasked with improving the newsreel so that it will give viewers a better understanding of what kind of person Charles Foster Kane really was. It has been reported that a snow globe fell from Kane's hand and broke at the moment of his death and that his last word was "Rosebud". Thompson's supervisor is keen for him to find out exactly what "Rosebud" means.Thompson interviews several people who knew Charles Foster Kane at various points in his life and reads the memoirs of the banker Walter Park Thatcher, a man who had been Kane's guardian when he was younger. What Thompson learns is shown to the audience in a series of flashbacks.
As a boy, Kane lives in poverty in Colorado, until "the world's third largest gold mine" is discovered on his mother's property. While he is playing on his sled one day, Kane's mother tells him that he is to be sent away to live with Walter Park Thatcher on the East Coast and be educated. At the age of 25, Kane comes into his inheritance. He discovers that he owns a small New York newspaper, The New York Inquirer and decides to concentrate on making that paper a success. Kane becomes a great success in the newspaper business and his wealth and fame increase. However, his political ambitions are never fully realized, he becomes estranged from his friends and two marriages fail. He spends his final years living as a recluse on his vast estate in Florida called Xanadu.
Nobody that Thompson speaks to knows what "Rosebud" means, although Kane's butler reports having heard Kane say it before, as he looked at a snow globe on the night that his second wife left him. Thompson concludes that, "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." At the end of the film, Kane's many possessions, which range from priceless works of art to worthless junk, are being catalogued. One of those items is a sled with the word "Rosebud" written on it. Kane had played on the sled during his childhood in Colorado, the only time in his life when he was truly happy. Considered to be of no value, the sled is tossed into a furnace and burned.
Virtually every critic's list of the greatest films in the history of cinema places Citizen Kane at, or near, the top.
References in Peanuts
In the comic strip
- In the strip from December 18, 1968, Charlie Brown discovers that the word "Rosebud" is written on a sled on which Snoopy, wearing his flying helmet and goggles, has been riding.
- In the strip from September 12, 1971, Snoopy, pretending to be Joe Cool, says that Citizen Kane is being screened at his college again and that he has "only seen it twenty-three times".
- In the strip from October 29, 1972, Sally Brown leaves a movie theater line after being rebuffed by Linus, and goes home to watch Citizen Kane on television instead.
- In the strip from December 9, 1973, Linus van Pelt is shown watching Citizen Kane on television. Lucy mentions that she has seen the film ten times and carelessly divulges the movie's revelation that "Rosebud" is the name of the protagonist's sled. Lucy's careless spoiler upsets Linus.
- Citizen Kane is referred to in the strips from July 23 and July 31, 1980, part of a series in which Snoopy attempts to fly Schroeder to music camp in his Sopwith Camel. In the strip from July 23, 1980, Lucy the travel agent tells Schroeder that Citizen Kane will be the in-flight movie. In the strip from July 31, 1980 Marcie the stewardess announces that the in-flight movie Citizen Kane is about to start. When Schroeder expresses surprise at there being a movie on the flight, Marcie says, "Well, it isn't exactly a movie." In the final frame, Snoopy is seen with two puppets on his paws, thinking the word "Rosebud."
- In the strip from June 18, 1982, while Sally is at "Beanbag Camp", she writes a letter to Charlie Brown and tells him that they sometimes watch old movies. She then says "I'll bet Rosebud turns out to be his sled."
- In the strip from April 28, 1984, Spike goes to Hollywood, and tries to remake Citizen Kane as an animated film.
- In the strip from September 2, 1984, Snoopy performs Citizen Beagle during a Pawpet Theater show and is shown holding a sled with "Rosebeagle" emblazoned on it.
- In the strip from August 4, 1989, Sally is shown in front of her television saying, "You sure fooled me...I thought 'Rosebud' was his skateboard."
- In the strip from April 23, 1990, Linus talks about the movie to Lydia.
- In the strip from December 18, 1991, Larry tells Sally Brown that the Great Gatsby received a sled for Christmas when he was a child and called it "Rosebud".
- In the strip from April 11, 1993, Linus and Snoopy both become disorientated after Lucy quickly pulls Linus' security blanket away. The confused Linus quotes the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz by saying, "Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas anymore." Snoopy quotes Citizen Kane by thinking, "Rosebud."
- In the topper of the Sunday strip from October 2, 1994, while watching TV with Charlie Brown, Snoopy thinks, "Rosebud?"
- In the strip from October 8, 1995, Rerun van Pelt is shown watching Citizen Kane on television. In a near repeat of the December 9, 1973 strip, Lucy starts to explain the significance of "Rosebud" to Rerun, only to be stopped by an agitated Linus.
- In the strip from February 8, 1996, several of the children are lined up to buy tickets to a movie, discussing the plot of the movie they intend to see. In the back of the lineup, Woodstock is shown asking Snoopy a question, to which he responds, "No Rosebud was his sled."
- In the strip from November 6, 1998, Snoopy disagrees with Sally's comment that dogs never think deep thoughts by stating, "I have deep thoughts all the time... I knew right from the start that 'Rosebud' was his sled."
In the TV specials
- In the 1985 TV special Snoopy's Getting Married, Charlie Brown, in a letter to his brother Spike, Snoopy says that Citizen Kane is his favorite movie and that his new fiancée Genevieve loves it as much as he does.