Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Citizen Kane (1941)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Citizen Kane (1941)

In one of filmdom's most celebrated films with many landmark cinematic techniques (including dramatic lighting and deep-focus), from co-writer/actor/director Orson Welles:

  • the opening prologue including the shot of media tycoon Charles Foster Kane's (Orson Welles) estate of Xanadu and the uttering of the mysterious word "R-o-s-e-b-u-d" (the film's first line) by the giant rubbery lips of a dying, mustached man as a crystal globe/ball of a snowy scene (of a snow-covered house) fell from his hand and shattered
  • the "March of Time" newsreel sequence
  • the scene in the smoky projection room where shafts of light came from the projection booth and the reporters were told to investigate the enigmatic meaning of Kane's last word
Kane Estate of Xanadu
Snow-Globe Falling from Kane's Dying Hand
  • the deep-focus scene as young Kane played in the snow outside and his future guardian talked to his parents inside
  • the clever transition when a picture of a newspaper staff came to life
  • the Walter P. Thatcher library flashback sequence
  • the famous breakfast montage scene that symbolized the deterioration of Kane's marriage
  • the dolly shot/dissolve into the skylight of Susan Alexander's (Dorothy Comingore) nightclub
  • Kane's explanation to his accountant: "You're right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars next year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place in 60 years"
  • Bernstein's (Everett Sloane) speech about his memory of a girl with a white dress and a parasol ("A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry. And as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in. And on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all. But I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I hadn't thought of that girl")
  • Kane's memorable political speech
  • the memorable boom shot upward to two stage hands who commented on Susan's disastrous operatic debut
  • Kane's firing of Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten) and his finishing of the negative review of his wife's performance
  • the images of Xanadu's huge fireplace and Susan hunched over a crossword puzzle
  • the startling jump cut to a screaming bird
  • the scene of Kane's angry furniture-destroying rage after Susan's departure
  • his stumbling walk through the mirrored hall
  • the panoramic view of Kane's basement warehouse and its many discarded mementos, and butler Raymond's command: "Throw that junk"
  • the final fadeout scene from the time the reporters started up the stairs to a shot that closed in on the incineration of a sled in the furnace -- (revealing the meaning of "Rosebud" as Charles Kane's childhood playtoy) - and the smoke rising toward the sky
  • the end credits sequence - including clips from the film highlighting or underscoring the footage, with each actor's name (from the Mercury Company) - ending with the film's actual last line of dialogue from Walter Parks Thatcher (George Coulouris): ("I think it would be fun to run a newspaper"), accompanied by the sounds of a jaunty, march version of The Charlie Kane Song; after the clips, the remainder of the cast was listed on a single card (white letters on black), with Orson Welles' credit listed last as simply "Kane"

Kane's Parents

Kane's Firing of Jedediah Leland (Joseph Cotten)

Kane's Break-up with Susan Alexander
(Dorothy Comingore)

Kane's Image in Mirrored Hall

Kane's "Rosebud" Sled in Furnace

Closing Credits


Greatest Scenes: Intro | What Makes a Great Scene? | Scenes: Quiz
Scenes: Film Titles A - H | Scenes: Film Titles I - R | Scenes: Film Titles S - Z