RKO 281 by John Logan
INT LARGE, DARK ROOM NIGHT
In the ebony shadows of a large room we can make out corners and edges,
moldings and cornices; the phantoms of decaying Victorian wealth
floating like disembodied ghosts in the darkness.
It is May 6, 1924 The harsh flare of a match being struck
A shadowy male figure lights a series of nine candles on a birthday
cake. Beyond the cake we can see a bed.
On the bed lies a woman in her early forties. She is ashen and sickly.
The shadowy male figure finishes lighting the candles, blows out the
match and disappears as the woman peers into the darkness.
Come into the light.. Come into the light
A nine-year-old boy steps into the light.
She pulls him close and whispers:
Never stand in the shadows --
You are made for the light, Orson Now you must blow
out your candles. But you must always remember, the
cake itself is nothing. The flame, the lights, that
is where your future lies. You must have a dream. A
great dream worthy of you.
The boy immediately spins to the cake and blows out the candles. A
moment of darkness. He turns back to the bed. The woman and the bed are
gone, faded into darkness.
The solemn young lad stares and stares into the darkness
And then, magically, the faint glimmer of twinkling stars fill his huge
NEWSREEL The flickering images of an old newsreel, circa 1940
Under the MGM logo we see the title: BOY WONDER WOWS HOLLYWOOD!
The first image after the title is the imposing figure of ORSON WELLES,
climbing down from an airplane and surveying the world at his feet.
Welles is 24 years old and somewhat handsome. Welles seems rather
uncomfortable in his own body, as if it could not possibly contain his
vast passions and appetites.
Orson Welles is man who tears his way through life with incendiary
energy. He is at once inspiring and ferocious; visionary and coldly
ambitious. He is part artist, part fraud and all showman.
A sonorous voice accompanies the newsreel. The voice is always grand,
He came to the town of magic and dreams a flashing
star blazing through the firmament of illusion. And
he promised to devour the world in a single gulp. He
was 24 years old and his name was George Orson
Welles. Sound the trumpets! Unfurl the banners,
Hollywood! The Boy Wonder has arrived!
Images of Welles as a baby and his early life fill the screen: Welles
in a crib; as a pampered schoolboy; at dance class; drama club; dressed
up for a magic show. As we hear:
He made his debut on the world stage in Kenosha,
Wisconsin, on the 6th of May, 1915. And on the 7th
of May he spoke his first words, and unlike other
children who say commonplace things like "momma" and
"poppa", he proclaimed "I am a genius!"
At three the genius was reciting Shakespeare and at eight he had taken
up cigars and highballs and was learning magic from the knee of the
Images of Welles' early theatrical career: the young man playing
impossibly old parts; vaudeville magic shows; various regional
theaters; endless tawdry rehearsal rooms
Then images of Welles and JOHN HOUSEMAN in New York: the great,
bustling city; Welles at work with John Houseman on a script; Welles
directing a play. As we hear:
So how could the magic of the stage not call to
this adventurous lad? Unstoppable and resolute, the
Boy Wonder journeyed into the world of the legit
theater. After a peripatetic beginning he found
himself at last in New York where he joined forces
with theatrical producer John Houseman under the
august auspices of the WPA Federal Theater.
A rehearsal room interview with John Houseman, who is in his 30's,
thin-lipped and prim:
Orson barreled in and took over. Orson's a real
Images of Welles directing his famous "Fascist JULIUS CAESAR" and
"Voodoo MACBETH" productions: auditions; rehearsals; perfecting a
sword-fight; rejecting classical costume sketches for JULIUS CAESAR;
supervising set construction; performing Brutus in the Albert Speer-
like Nuremberg rally lighting of JULIUS CAESAR. As we hear:
Like Hannibal over the Alps, the Boy Genius invaded
the Great White Way. He stunned the sedate elite of
New York theatre with production after production.
From MACBETH with an entirely colored cast to a
Mussolini-inspired JULIUS CAESAR!
More images of New York, Welles, Houseman and radio: Welles directing a
radio play with sweeping energy; supervising the elaborate sound
effects; editing the script; at odds with Houseman. As we hear:
Though he wowed the critics with his spectaculars
the ticket sales left something to be desired. So,
after founding the Mercury Players with Houseman,
young Mr. Welles quickly set his sights on the
airwaves. He quickly became the sonorous -' voice of
"The Shadow." ''
Newsreel footage of Welles at a standing radio microphone;
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The
Shadow knows. . .
Welles laughs his sinister Shadow laugh and we go to more images of
radio and the dynamic Welles performing and directing as we hear:
With Lament Cranston in one pocket and his own
radio show. The Mercury Theater of the Air, our Boy
Wonder filled the night with his resounding tones.
And on October 30th of 1938, he became what he felt
destined to be: a household name.
What started out as a roguish Halloween prank became the most famous
radio show in the history of the galaxy!
Images of the WAR OF THE WORLDS broadcast and panic: listeners huddling
next to their radios; telephone switchboards lighting up; New Jersey
State Motorcycle Troopers zooming down rural roads; cars clogging the
highways. As we hear:
THE WAR OF THE WORLDS sent this nation spinning
into a frenzy. Nine million listeners clasped their
loved ones close and looked to the skies with
horror. Unlucky listeners near the epicenter of the
"invasion" -- rural New Jersey -- ran screaming into
the night, sure a monstrous alien and a fiery death
awaited them around every corner! The mischievous
Boy Wonder had fooled us all!
Newsreel footage of a packed press conference with Welles the day
following the broadcast:
Of course ... of course ... if I had known the
panic the broadcast was causing -- well I would have
stopped! I never meant for any of this to happen and
I feel just horrible!
Quick newsreel clips of Welles leaving the press conference with
Houseman. We see them slip into a taxi. Inside the taxi we can just
glimpse Welles exploding with laughter.
How long, oh how long could it possibly be before
the sunny land of dreams tried to harness the
combustible power of this showman, this impresario,
this best of all possible Boy Wonders?!
Images of Welles posing and shaking hands with GEORGE
Schaefer is an intense, compact man in his early 50's. His nickname in
Hollywood is "The Tiger" -- both for his admired tenacity and his
feared temper. He is a moral and ethical man; John Adams in a Brooks
As we hear
The winner in the Welles derby was George Schaefer,
the head of RKO Pictures. With a contract
unimaginable before The Days Of Orson, Mr. Schaefer
captured the whirlwind snared the beast, roped the
Images of Welles and Schaefer: Welles signing his contract; smiling to
Schaefer; Schaefer making a speech; Welles joking with reporters. As we
Eyebrows raised and jaws dropped all over
Hollywoodland when the terms of the deal that lured
The Great Orson came forth: the Boy Wonder could
produce, write, direct and star in his own projects
with budgets up to $500,000 a picture! He would have
total control over the shooting of the picture and
the finished product. The studio, well, they just
paid the bills. Meanwhile, the insiders of filmland
An interview with a Hollywood Insider, who looks like a bookie:
John Ford doesn't have a deal like that. Cecil B.
DeMille doesn't have a deal like that. No one has a
deal like that! If ya ask me, George Schaefer is
just plain nuts
Images of Welles arriving in Hollywood and touring the town: Welles
climbing down from a plane; posing with Schaefer before of the RKO
gates; touring the studio; leaning over an editing machine; laughing
with female extras in the commissary; posing in front of his Brentwood
home. As we hear:
So Cometh Orson! He toured the RKO studio and met
with the biggest of the big! He charmed his way
through the town from the Brown Derby to the
Copacabana, from the Pacific Palisades to the
More images of Welles in Hollywood: Welles touring the town; visiting
all the nightclubs and dancing with beautiful women; he is seen
everywhere about the town. As we hear:
Yes, the Boy Wonder had arrived! He even charmed
those rival maidens of Hollywood gossip, those well-
coiffured chroniclers of the dream factory: Hedda
Hopper and Louella Parsons.
Shots of Welles with LOUELLA PARSONS and HEDDA HOPPER
Louella is a much-feared gossip columnist. She is a gorgon in her 60's;
Margaret Dumont possessed by the devil and tanked up on gin. Her
capricious cruelty is only matched by her fervent loyalty to all things
Hedda is a gossip columnist in her 50's. She is given to elaborate hats
and villainous intrigue. Louella's younger, smarter rival, Hedda
probably spends her spare time eating children.
Then a snippet of an interview with Louella:
Orson is the sweetest boy. We're both from the
midwest, you know. He's just a local fella making
good, ya follow?
More shots of Welles just after his arrival in Hollywood, blissfully
touring the RKO facilities as:
So today, almost a year after his arrival in
Hollywood, we leave the Boy Wonder still hard at
work developing his much-anticipated first feature,
preparing to dazzle us all again. We're waiting,
Welles after his RKO tour, smiling mischievously, stands before a
I'll tell you what, this is the best electric train
set a boy ever had!
"The End" and newsreel credits
The newsreel sputters to a stop in a screening room. A shaft of light
shines on a large MGM logo on one wall. Another shaft of light
illuminates the sitting figure of LOUIS B. MAYER.
Mayer is a short, crafty, bespectacled man in his 50's. His cloying,
avuncular exterior only fleetingly disguises the film titan's
Another shadowy figure, a Mayer FLUNKIE, can be just glimpsed sitting
elsewhere in the screening room.
Mayer glowers at the darkened screen for a moment.
Who does that cocksucker think he is?
They're laying bets over on the RKO
lot that this great deal will end up
with him never doing a picture. Back
to New York he goes.
Serves him right. I mean can you stomach the
Inside skinny says the glory boy's finished,
can't come up with a movie. Wants to do a biography now.
After RKO boots him maybe we'll pick him up cheap.
Have him do that WAR OF THE WORLDS crap as a
Meantime, shelve the newsreel. No one cares
INT SAN SIMEON. WELLES' SUITE EVENING
Orson Welles, elegant and impressive, is flourishing a cigarette and a
coin in his magnificently expressive hands He is perfecting a magic
Welles is lounging on the bed of an enormous guest suite at San Simeon.
He is wearing a tuxedo.
In the bathroom beyond him we can see the writer HERMAN MANKIEWICZ
Mank is a wonderful wreck of a human being. 43 years old, but looking
considerably older, he is short and squat and bitter. A compulsive
gambler and drinker, Mank still glimmers with wry humor that is equally
wicked and corrosive. He is incomplete without the stub of a cigar
clenched in his teeth.
Mank, also dressed in a tuxedo, is looking at himself in the bathroom
mirror as he struggles with his bow tie. He occasionally glances in the
mirror to Welles.
Title: JANUARY 3, 1940
I don't know what you expected with Joseph-
fucking-Conrad for Chrissake. I mean this is
All right! Enough! I've heard this from Schaefer
and RKO. I've heard it from everyone--
But you keep coming up with the same elitist crap -
- HEART OF DARKNESS with a million dollar budget?! -
- no one wants to see that.
Welles dramatically taps the cigarette on the coin, practicing his
What are movies about, Orson?
What are movies about?
Who the hell wants to see life?! People are sick to
death of life! They want make-believe, pal. Fantasy.
They want Tarzan and Jane, not Tristan and Isolde.
Welles quickly makes the cigarette seem to completely pass through the
coin. An astounding bit of slight of hand.
Butts on seats. That's what movies are about. You
got one job in Hollywood -- everyone has the same
job, in fact -- putting the butts on the seats. You
gotta sell 'em popcorn and Pepsi- cola. It's all
about popcorn and Pepsi-cola.
Not for me.
Then you better get ready to be the youngest never-
was in Hollywood history.
That's better than being the oldest has-been in
You're a laugh-riot, kid.
Welles laughs and goes to Mank in the bathroom.
Here, turn around.
Welles ties Mank's bow tie for him as:
So, we've got to come up with our movie. Our
We find the man and then we dissect him-
Like a bug.
But with compassion and insight--
(glancing at his watch)
Christ, we gotta go! The old man doesn't cotton to
Mank takes a quick swig from a flask of vodka, shoves it into his coat
and scurries into the other room as Welles checks himself in the
A beat. Welles smiles, confident and resplendent
(into the mirror)
How do you do, Mr. Hearst? My name is Orson
INT SAN SIMEON. HALLWAY FOLLOWING
Welles and Mank walk through an impressive upstairs hallway of San
Simeon. Quick glimpses of the astounding grandeur everywhere around
How about Howard Hughes? We could do Hughes
I'm not fucking with Hughes. That shit-kicker would
kill us dead, baby. Just like Jean Harlow
Howard Hughes killed Jean Harlow?
Sure. Dropped her out of his Lockheed over Utah
They disappear down a long stairway
INT SAN SIMEON. DINING HALL EVENING
An explosion of color and an immediate swirl of sound
We are in the Grand Refectory -- the mammoth dining room -- at San
Simeon. Five long tables are placed end to end. There are about fifty
sumptuously dressed guests.
WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST and MARION DAVIES preside, side by side,
Hearst is 76 years old. He is a fully commanding figure, towering in
both height (six foot two) and personality. He is shaped rather like a
pear and moves with a delicacy surprising for such a famously merciless
man. Although the word ruthless does not begin to do justice to the
press baron's animus, Hearst is endlessly polite and almost painfully
Marion is 43 years old, a shimmering and lively presence. In a word
that might have been coined for her, she has moxie. While the ravages
of alcoholism have left their subtle marks on the edges and attitudes
of her face, she can still charm and captivate with almost effortless
Around Hearst's feet sit a collection of his beloved dachshunds.
On the other side of the main table, and down a bit, sit Welles and
We sweep around the table, hearing bits of overlapping dialogue and
finally settle on Marion and Hearst.
Marion is charming CAROLE LOMBARD and CLARK GABLE, who sit beside
She tenderly rests one hand on Hearst's arm as she speaks. Marion
speaks with an occasionally pronounced stutter.
And we would hear them scuttling around at night
with their little red eyes and little yellow t-t-
teeth and I'm just imagining plague lice jumpin' all
over the damn place So we set t-t-traps everywhere.
And every morning we would find the t-t-traps sprung
but no mice!
Just wait. So one night I notice Pops getting outta
bed and sneaking away. And he's got this little p-p-
paper bag with him, right? Middle of the night. So I
figure the old man's really up to no good this time
and I follow him. Well I'll be g-g-goddamned if he's
not springing all the traps and leaving cheese for
You and that freak Disney, in love with the damn
Laughter, even from Hearst
They really are sweet little things
Meanwhile, across the table Welles is rapaciously devouring his dinner
Kid, you just got your ass kicked on Joseph Conrad
and now you're gonna go to Schaefer and tell him you
wanna do the id and the superego? Stop being so
Mank surreptitiously pours a huge shot of vodka from his flask into his
Who the hell's Manolete?
The great Spanish bullfighter
I don't wanna write about no spic.
No, it's perfect! When in doubt, put on a cape!
False noses and faux beards and flowing capes have
been the life-blood of the actor's craft since the
days of lrving and Booth. (He flourishes his napkin
like a bullfighter's cape.) Imagine me in a
glittering suit of lights on the dusky Andalusian
Why Mr. Welles is attempting semaphore
Welles smiles across the table.
Bullfighting, Miss Davies!
And is dear Mank your b-b-bull?
My factotum, ally and comrade-in-arms
Writer, flunkie, pimp--
You fight many bulls there in New York, Orson?
Ever met Walter Winchell?
(expansively, warming into a story)
No, when I was but a tender lad--
Last week would this be?
Laughter. As Welles speaks the whole table gradually stops eating and
listens to his tale:
My father and I made a tour of the grand boulevards
of antique Europe. And when we were in Iberia I had
the chance to face the bulls. At the knee of the
great Manolete I took up the cape and sword -
(he uses his napkin and knife to
-- across from me stood a mammoth bull reputed to
have gored a full seven men to a grisly demise! So -
- with Manolete shouting encouragement I flourished
. . . I flourished again . . . and the bull charged!
Across the golden dust it came, thundering like the
great minotaur of legend, closer, ever closer, its
calamitous hooves pounding into the dirt, shaking
the earth as I held the crimson eye of the bull with
my own, defying it -- it was almost upon me and I
flourished one last time! -- the monster swept past!
(he spins his napkin in the air and his
knife is now gone, a magic trick)
-- and my sword was gone -- buried in the bloody
eye of the beast!
Applause and laughter from around the table. Then:
You are evidently a man who knows a great deal
Some nervous titters. A beat as Welles' smile fades and he stares at
Of all man's malignity -- of all his sadism -- none
is more depraved than cruelty to animals.
Mank gives Welles a desperate warning look to keep quiet Welles cannot
In Spain the cruelty would be in denying the beast
a fighting end.
A beat as Hearst rivets Welles with a cold, bland stare Deafening
silence around the table.
Who are you, sir?
My name is Orson Welles
I see. And you are in California for what reason?
To make pictures.
And what pictures have you made?
A beat. Hearst smiles
Well, I wish you luck. It is a treacherous
So I've been told.
In Hollywood the fiercest bulls are the most
I'll remember that.
A tense beat. Marion quickly diffuses the situation;
Enough Hollywood talk! Can't anyone talk about
Heard some juicy gossip from Metro.
Laughter. Even from Hearst. Then the dinner chatter continues.
Welles cannot keep his eyes off Hearst, the press baron draws Welles in
like a siren.
Marion gives Hearst a little kiss and grabs Carole Lombard and they
leave the table. Hearst leans into Clark Gable to continue talking.
Welles sits back and reaches for a cigar. Mank takes his arm and
indicates he should stop, nodding his head in Hearst's direction.
The man doesn't allow drinking or cigars? This is
The old man has his own way of doing things
He's nothing but a hypocrite. He preaches morality
every day in his sordid little papers for everyone
else in the world but he lives openly with his
Mank sneaks another shot from his flask
Buddy, when you own the largest publishing empire
in the universe you can do whatever the hell you
want. Think about it, pal. Every day one out of five
Americans picks up a Hearst publication. 30
newspapers, a dozen magazines, a bunch of radio
stations and the grand dragon of them all. Little
Miss Louella Parsons. Tends to give you some of that
ol' noblesse oblige.
Welles studies Hearst across the table.
Look at those hands. Those are the hands of an
artist. A modern Caravaggio.
No, baby, those are the hands of a killer
Hearst leans down and feeds his favorite pet dachshund, Helen, table
scraps. He talks to her gently.
There you are, honey. Aren't you a wonderful girl?
INT SAN SIMEON. LADIES LOUNGE FOLLOWING
Marion and Carole Lombard escape into an ornate ladies bathroom.
Marion immediately goes to a cabinet and retrieves a bottle of Scotch
hidden under some towels. She takes a swig and then hands the bottle to
Carole Lombard. She drinks.
Marion lights a cigarette.
God, these parties are the worst
You need to get outta here, Rapunzel
That's why he has the parties, he says it's like
bringing the world to me.
Why don't you come down to LA? Stay with us for a
With about twenty of his spies on my tail. No
Marion hands the cigarette to Carole Lombard A beat.
It's not so bad here. After all, what girl doesn't
want to live in a castle?
Mr. Welles certainly is a caution
Yeah, Orson's a real piece of work. But deep down,
he's a good kid. Real deep down.
And attractive in a hammy sort of way.
A beat. Carole Lombard hands the cigarette back to Marion
Listen, you come down and stay with us for a few
days. Just tell the old man that--
Sure you can, just--
He needs me here.
A beat. Carole Lombard does not respond.
INT SAN SIMEON. BALLROOM FOLLOWING
In the cavernous ballroom, a dance band is playing "I'LL BE SEEING
The guests mingle and dance
Welles and Mank wander as Welles takes in the impressive surroundings.
"In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure dome
decree. . . "How big is it, all told? The estate?
The whole joint is half the size of Rhode Island.
Yeah, it's the place God would have built, if he'd
had the money.
Carole Lombard and Marion return, rather giggly
Mankie, Mankie d-d-dance with me
You've been naughty, haven't you, honey?
Shit, can you smell it? You got any sen-sen?
Mr. Welles, you got any--? Oh fuck it.
She goes off in search of Hearst.
Meanwhile, Orson, I thought your bullfighting story
was nifty. Let's cut a rug.
She pulls Welles to the dance floor Mank wanders away and takes another
swig from his flask.
As Welles and Carole Lombard dance, Welles keeps an eye on Hearst and
Marion who are dancing nearby.
So you ever gonna do a picture?
Not you too
It's gonna be fine, Orson. You're gonna do great.
I wonder sometimes.
You're just scared.
And what am I scared of?
Of being found out. Of not being a genius
Oh, but haven't you heard? I'm the Boy Wonder.
I've been a genius since the moment I was born.
We've known each other too long, Orson. Sling the
Carole, you wound me! As if I could hope to pacify
you with evasions of--
Don't insult me with your cute press quotes Save it
She stops and looks at him firmly
You make your mark, Orson.
Nearby Marion pulls away from Hearst sharply, drawing Welles'
attention. He overhears:
Goddamn it. I gotta have some kinda life!
There's no call for that language-
There certainly is I There certainly is! Aw, to
hell with you!
She storms off. Welles and Carole Lombard watch her go
That poor woman.
She knew what she was signing on for After all,
she took the money.
Welles watches as Hearst stands alone on the dance floor We hear the
sound of a lion roaring in the distance
INT SAN SIMEON. WELLES' SUITE NIGHT
Welles, again dressed in a tuxedo, lies on his bed
Through the open balcony doors he can hear the eerie sound of lions
roaring and elephants trumpeting in the night.
He stand and wanders to the balcony. Below him he can see bits and
pieces of Hearst's private zoo in the moonlight: a lion pacing
relentlessly back and forth; an alligator slipping into the water; a
monkey slamming into the bars of its cage.
The disquieting sounds of the menagerie float through the midnight air.
Welles leaves his suite
INT SAN SIMEON. HALLWAYS FOLLOWING
Welles roams the seemingly endless hallways of San Simeon. In the half-
light they begin to resemble his own cinematic dream-palace, Xanadu.
He hears the ghostly echo of a song, "WHERE OR WHEN".
He curiously follows the sound, taking in the fabulous castle
everywhere around him.
He passes by the door to the Assembly Room. Inside, shafts of light
illuminate portions of huge, uncompleted jigsaw puzzles.
INT SAN SIMEON. BALLROOM FOLLOWING
"WHERE OR WHEN" is now clear.
Welles stands in the shadows of a balcony overlooking the great
Below him a phonograph record spins lazily on a turntable standing of
the floor of the deserted ballroom.
And Hearst and Marion are enjoying a quiet dance together, her head
nestled on his shoulder.
Welles stares and stares at them And slowly smiles. We linger on Hearst
and Marion as they dance
EXT WELLES' HOUSE. POOL DAY
Welles, wrapped in a bathrobe, is pacing quickly around the perimeter
of his backyard pool. He is puffing on a cigar and grunting to himself
as he scribbles down notes.
Mank, wearing sunglasses and a battered fedora and looking decidedly
hung-over, comes from the house to the pool.
Welles roars up to him:
Mank! You scoundrel! What took you so long?!
Orson, please ... it's too bright
Welles takes Mank's fedora and flings it away.
Here you are, up with the birds for once, you
(settling into a deck chair)
Okay, boy wonder, what?
Listen ... I've got it! It came to me like a thief
in the night! Pure inspiration! Total magnificence!
Mank takes a glass from a tray of orange juice and pours vodka from a
flask into his juice as:
Oh for Christ's sake-
I know who we're going to get I The great American
biography! A journey into the soul of the beast.
This better be good
Image a man that has shaped his time. A titanic
figure of limitless influence. Think about empire. A
man with an empire at his feet. A man, like a baron,
living in a palace, a glorious palace on a hill, and
controlling the permutations of everyone beneath
Image the possibilities as this man controls the
public perception of the nation through his--
A beat as Welles stands in triumph before Mank.
Please don't say this.
Don't whisper it. Don't even think it
How long have we spent casting our minds about the
world when the answer to our prayers was right here
under our noses -- every single day in the
newspapers and on the radio -- waiting for us in
that ridiculous castle! Waiting for--!
Orson. Stop. Just stop
Welles quickly sits in a deck chair next to Mank as:
Now remember he's a public figure who sought out
that publicity so legally he can't stop us from--
(laughs coldly) Listen to you. You
child! Men like him don't bother with
things like legality. They don't have to.
You know why, boy-o? Power. Power
like you couldn't even begin to imagine.
Howard Hughes, he would just kill us. Hearst he
would kill us and fuck everything we ever loved.
We're doing Hearst.
A beat. Mank slowly removes his sunglasses and leans forward, dead
You may think you know what you're talking about,
kid, but believe me, you don't. You're talking about
going into a battle you can never win on a
battlefield so far above things like movies and
Hollywood that Hearst won't even have to glance down
when he crushes you. When he flicks you away with
one finger. I'm talking about money and influence
and evil beyond your capacity to imagine Hell.
So speaks the court jester.
I expected more from you.
Sorry to disappoint.
(with building venom)
How does it feel, Mank? Going up to the palace and
making all the lords and ladies laugh as you tell
your little stories and beg for crumbs at the table?
How does it feel being the ugly little monkey they
keep to amuse themselves--?!
Mank leaps to his feet
It feels just fine, you pompous fuck-
Welles blocks Mank's way. Mank retreats. Welles pursues him around the
I remember a man who wrote I He was a brilliant
writer who dazzled me time and time again with his
wit and insight--
Don't do this
Where did he go? He hasn't had a screen credit in
Don't do this
--Because he has been so furiously busy wasting
himself. Amusing his keepers. Because he is a
sycophant! Because he has been thrown out of every
studio in Hollywood and no one will hire him because
he's a drunk- -!
Mank spins on him:
AND YOU'RE NOTHING BUT A GODDAMN PHONY! What is all
this "Orson Welles" bullshit?! This boy genius
crap?! What the fuck did you ever CREATE? You're
just another goddamn ACTOR!
Welles shoves Mank violently. Mank goes sailing into the pool.
Mank splashes to the surface and stands for a shocked moment and then
wades to the edge of the pool. Miraculously, and like the true drinker
he is, Mank is still holding his glass of juice and vodka, now
supplemented with pool water.
Welles stands above him, blocking his exit from the pool. From this low
angle Welles suddenly looks startlingly Kane- like.
Let me out.
Listen to me-
I am giving you the last chance you will ever have to be yourself
I don't have it anymore?!
When I was a kid I wanted to scorch the world too -
- I had all kinda dreams about making great pictures
and telling great stories. But all that's finished
It doesn't have to be
And yeah, sure, Hearst's a great subject. Been
keeping notes on him for years for my ...
(he laughs bitterly)
great American novel. But I can't do it anymore. No
studio's gonna hire me and I - -
I'll hire you -- right now-
I can't do it. okay?! I drink too much -- I drink
all the fucking time and I don't have it anymore.
All that is over for me--
NOT UNLESS I. TELL YOU IT IS
A tense pause
Welles kneels by the edge of the pool, effortlessly switching gears.
Look, Mank, this is our only chance
I know this is the story. And now is the time. And I cannot do it
without you. Everything in my life -- all the promise and potential and
dreams -- have led to this moment right now. To you and me. Right here.
A pause. Welles gazes at Mank, imploring
He'll destroy us.
Then let him. What have we got to lose, you and I?
A long beat Welles leans close to him.
Take my hand, Mank. And we'll dance one last time.
We'll dance to the music of the angels. We'll make
history. We'll scorch the earth. We will ...
astonish them all.
Silence as Welles offers his hand to Mank.
Mank takes a sip from his glass of juice, vodka and pool water.
Thank God you don't write dialogue
INT WELLES' LIVING ROOM DAY
Mank is slowly sharpening a series of pencils with a pocket knife,
blank pads waiting. Welles is standing across the room from him.
So, who is he? We have to know him.
Everyone sees someone different. That's what we
Like a jewel. Turn it in the light and a different
facet is illuminated.
Mank finishes sharpening his last pencil and picks up a pad He smiles
And we leap into MONTAGE -- WELLES AND MANK BRAINSTORM
A rush of jazzy. Gene Krupa percussion as Welles and Mank develop their
We see images of feverish creativity. Welles raging, pleading, arguing,
pushing. Mank responding, laughing, drinking, writing.
It is a passionate dance of creation Welles' tennis court Mank and
Welles are on the tennis court, but hard at work.
Mank waits for Welles to serve. Welles bounces the tennis ball, but is
too preoccupied to serve as:
The key -- the key -- the clue -- what does this
man recall on his death bed? Okay, Mank, you're
dying. What's the last image that comes to you?
This girl on a dock. White dress. Never said a word
She was . . . innocent
A beat, Welles deep in thought. Mank watches Welles closely.
So when was our man innocent? Was there a moment
early on -- of innocence and bliss? There must have
been. Okay, you're dying - what do you think?
Welles does not answer. He continues to bounce the tennis ball, deep in
Something you lost maybe?
Something you can never get back?
Mank watches as Welles lets the tennis ball drop. It bounces and rolls
-- for a fleeting moment in Welles' mind it seems to become the rolling
snow globe from KANE -- we hear the sound of sleigh bells and a child's
happy voice -- in the snow globe we seem to see a boy laughing and
pelting his father with snowballs. . .
Then more images, mad and outlandish and sedate and solemn; in the
kitchen, in a car, around the pool, in a bar.
Welles and Mank act out scenes and argue. They leap from character to
character fearlessly. Emoting and laughing and writing. We see the twin
joy and terror of walking the tightrope, of sheer creation.
We see them having a ferocious argument. They scream back and forth
angrily and then Mank storms out and slams the door. Welles stands
alone in his living room, he catches a glimpse of his own reflection in
a mirror and we hear:
Men like Hearst don't love..
Welles' living room: Welles is slowly advancing on Mank.
Mank sits, watching Welles approach. The living room is now filthy.
Papers and sketches and gin bottles are discarded everywhere around
them, a thick cloud of cigar smoke. It is very late at night and the
room is in semi-darkness.
All men love. But men like Hearst -- they don't
bother with convention because--
They don't have to.
He loves in his own way. On his conditions. Because
those are the only conditions he has ever known.
Welles is now standing over Mank, a dark figure in silhouette. Mank
soaks in this somewhat ominous image.
More music and images: eating and working; swimming and working;
playing and working simultaneously.
Sunset. We see them walking along a deserted beach Welles is walking in
the surf, his trousers rolled.
Hearst looks down at the world at his feet
Everything has always been beneath him.
And what does he see?
The people. When they pay him homage, he adores
them. But when they have the ... audacity to
question him. To doubt him. To embarrass him. Then
he despises them.
And when he looks up? What does he dream about?
Welles stops and looks up. A thousand stars twinkle above him. They are
reflected in his eyes.
A long pause as he does not answer Mank Then
I'm ready to write it, Orson
Welles turns to him. You're sure?
Yeah. Mank gazes at Welles.
I know him The clatter of an old typewriter is heard. EXT/INT +
BUNGALOW. VICTORVILLE DAY
Victorville is a rural desert community in San Bernadino County about
90 miles from LA.
Mank and John Houseman are ensconced in a bungalow at Campbell's Guest
Ranch, writing the movie.
Mank, smoking a cigar, paces around the cacti and shrubs in the
backyard reciting to their secretary. She pounds away on a typewriter
as he orates. A huge stack of papers lies neatly by her typewriter.
This is clearly the longest screenplay in the history of the world.
Leiand: "You talk about the people as if you owned
them. As though they belonged to you. But you don't
really care about anything except you." Craig: "A
toast then, Jedediah, to all those people who didn't
vote for me today and to love on my own terms. Those
are the only terms anybody ever knows. . . "
We float into the house as we continue to hear Mank's recitation...
Inside, John Houseman is busy rifling through Mank's room as he
MANK'S VOICE (CONT.)
"...because in the end a man looks into the mirror
and sees one face looking back not humanity -- not
"the people" -- one face. And he's got to be able to
look at that one face and know he was true. "
Houseman uncovers a bottle of vodka hidden under Mank's bed He pours
the bottle down a bathroom drain as he calls out the window:
That's too long. Tighten it up
Outside, Mank snarls and then revises:
You're killin' me here, Housey. Okay, make that,
Craig: "A toast, Jedediah, to love on my own terms.
Those are the only terms anybody ever knows, his
Houseman emerges from the house.
Telegram from The Christ Child
He tears open the telegram and reads:
"Schaefer loves the idea. Stop. Start writing.
Stop. Stop drinking. Stop. Did you work in the
jigsaw puzzles. Question mark. Don't stop. Stop.
Love you madly, Orson."
That man makes my brain hurt
We fade to a beautiful drawing of a dark, cavernous room. Perhaps it is
a perfect matte painting from KANE. Real or illusion? The image turns
INT SOUND STAGE, RKO LOT DAY
Welles is standing in the middle of an enormous sound stage, empty but
for a table with some elaborate set models. He is;' slowly walking
around the models, studying them, imagining' his movie.
The sound stage door opens and a man enters, carrying a small black
bag. He is cinematographer GREGG TOLAND.
Toland is a quiet, efficient and slim man of 36. He is brilliant and
Toland walks to Welles and, without a word, pulls an Oscar statue out
of the bag and sets it down in the middle of one of the set models. He
looks up at Welles as we hear:
And Gregg Toland plunks down his Oscar for
WUTHERING HEIGHTS and says, "Mr. Welles, I want to
shoot your picture. . . "
INT THE BROWN DERBY DAY\NIGHT
The chic Brown Derby restaurant is the unquestioned palace of Hollywood
celebrities. The smug big-wigs and desperate hangers-on circulate and
score points in the Great Game of Movie Gossip.
In one corner booth sits Hedda Hopper, phoning in the latest salacious
gossip to her newspaper. In the other corner booth Louella Parsons does
the same. They occasionally glance back and forth at each other like
ravenous hyenas eyeing the last bit of carrion.
Welles circulates between them. In a scene reminiscent of the famous
CITIZEN KANE breakfast table scene with Kane and Emily, we shoot back
and forth as Welles applies his considerable charm to both women.
Welles is dressed differently with each of them; breakfast with Hedda
and dinner with Louella.
With Hedda, morning:
... And I said, "Mr. Toland, you are the finest
cinematographer in Hollywood, why would you desire
to work with a stumbling neophyte?"
With Louella, night
And he replied, "Mr. Welles, the only way to learn
anything new is to work with someone who doesn't
know a damn thing."
(scribbling on a pad)
With Hedda, morning:
Hedda, this movie is going to look like no other
picture ever made.
With Louella, night:
Tome it's a question of truth and illusion. Don't
you get tired of the errant falsity in motion
What we are going to do is shoot life -- in all
it's joyous complexity.
He takes out a coin and begins a magic trick
Consider this quarter, my dear. You can touch it
and feel it and were you to lean forward you could
even smell it. Why is it that in the movies a simple
bit of reality -- a quarter, a room, a man--
With Hedda, morning:
Becomes nothing but a lie? A trick. An illusion.
He makes the quarter 'completely disappear. Hedda is charmed
I will show the reality behind the trick.
He makes the quarter appear again and shows the guts of the trick.
I will use the illusions of Hollywood to show . . .
What does truth have to do with movies?
With Louella, night
So, what, it went into your other hand?
With Hedda, morning:
And so the dreamer awakens into the realms of
reality. He has been given a rendition of the truth.
He has been treated with respect.
Orson, that's all terribly interesting but what's
all this about you and Dolores Del Rio? Do I hear
love birds a'singin'?
Welles sighs. With Louella, night:
Now, Orson, you know I'm just dyin' to see your
picture and I know it's gonna be boffo, but you're
writing about a publisher, right?
You're not doin' Hearst, are you?
Good God no! The character is a delicious
amalgamation of various press barons--
A delicious amalgamation, is it?
He leans forward to light her cigarette as:
That's right. A symphony of those: vaunted and
valued tellers-of-truth. Those heroic minutemen
standing sentry on our liberties--
Orson, hold on. Look into my eyes. Tell me you are
not doing Hearst.
I am not doing Hearst.
INT BUNGALOW. VICTORVILLE DAY
Mank and Houseman watch nervously as Welles reads the last page of
their massive screenplay.
The script, almost half a foot high, is piled on a table next to
He sets down the last page and looks at Mank. A beat
It's 350 pages long.
Yeah, but the margins are real wide.
It is 350 pages of ... ABSOLUTE INSPIRATION!
He leaps up and embraces Mank
Housey, get us a drink.
Houseman glances at Welles, surprised, but dutifully scampers inside.
I told you you could do this! How could you have
ever doubted me!? You must never doubt me again!
It's good, huh?
Good?! Good?! Words fail you at last! It's
terrific! Now I'll have to do some shaping, of
course, and some of the scenes aren't exactly . . .
exactly . . .
Short enough. But this is a grand start And I think
we need to change the name.
No, AMERICAN is a blessed title directly sent from
God's soul to your mind. We shall never change that!
I mean the name of the publisher. Charles Foster
Craig doesn't have the knives-out poetry I need. I
was thinking about "Kane" -- you like that?
Cain -- like the Bible guy?
K-A-N-E. One strong syllable. Kane I
(weakly)Craig is one syllable
But it's not a great syllable
Houseman returns with a tray of drinks. Welles hands glasses all around
I --um-- I don't know if I should. I ain't been
drinking since I started on this--
To my invaluable comrade Drink up!
Mank is stunned Welles smiles and drinks.
INT CAR. DESERT ROADS DAY
Welles sits in the back of his limo as his chauffeur speeds him back to
He goes through the script with a fervent intensity. He crosses out
huge sections and tosses away entire pages. The' floor around his feet
is littered with discarded pages.
Mank sits drinking heavily as the sun sets in the distance Houseman is
busy packing in the house behind him.
Houseman notices Mank and goes to him They stare at the crimson of the
setting sun for a moment
I'm out, aren't I?
Welcome to the world of Orson Welles.
We focus on Mank's glowering face. But the background is somehow
different. We are at...
INT MANK'S CAR NIGHT
Late at night. Mank is sitting in his car, drinking from his flask and
listening to period jazz music from the car radio. He is parked outside
Welles' house, waiting and seething and very drunk.
He sees Welles pulling into his driveway and climbing out of his car.
Mank takes a final swig and then bolts after him, carrying a script. .
EXT WELLES ' HOUSE FOLLOWING
Mank roars unsteadily up to Welles:
YOU FUCK! YOU SELFISH FUCK!
Mank flings the script in Welles' face. Welles recoils
Jesus Christ --
YOU CAN'T DO THIS TOME -- THIS WAS OUR STORY,
REMEMBER? -- YOU AND ME AND GODDAMN EVERYONE ELSE -
- REMEMBER THAT?!
Mank snatches up the script and thrusts it in Welles' face
Pal from the studio sent this -- you see that?!
What does it say?! WHAT DOES IT SAY ORSON?!
Welles bats the script away:
Get away from me--
Mank pushes the title page of the script toward Welles as
It says AMERICAN by Orson Welles. YOU TOOK MY NAME
OFF THE FUCKING SCRIPT!
It's obviously a mistake, Manki Some steno girl
made a mistake, alright?!
You can't do this to me--!
Welles spins on him:
I fucking well can! I own your script and I can do
anything I goddamn want. And don't forget for one
minute that I took your 350 pages of drunken
rambling and I made a movie out of them -- and now
I've got to shoot the bastard. So thank you very
much, I have all I need. And you can stop calling
He goes into his house and slams the door.
Mank leans against the door in stunned exhaustion. Then he slides down
the door and sits leaning against it.
I hope you choke on it. I hope it kills you.
Inside the darkened House, Welles is leaning against the front door.
INT ,, SAM SIMEON. ASSEMBLY RQOM NIGHT
The Assembly room is Hearst's private sanctum high in a tower at San
Marion is valiantly trying to piece together a huge jigsaw puzzle.
Hearst enters and goes to her. He puts his hand gently on her shoulder.
This is supposed ta be Siam or some such. Some
kinda lousy B-B-Balinese temple. This look like a
temple to you? I can't see it myself--
Darling, I talked to Millicent.
Marion stops working at the puzzle. She does not look up. Beat
She said no
A pause. Then:
Marion slowly reaches out for the puzzle and delicately place a piece
in the proper position.
There. That's right.
She's a Catholic. She says it would put her soul in
peril. Divorce is a very serious sin, apparently.
(not looking up)
Nuts. She only cares about the money. She thinks
I'll make you cut her out of the w-w-w-w...
(she clenches her fists)
A long, difficult pause
I'm so sorry.
Marion slowly stands and walks to a liquor cabinet and pours a stiff
Hearst watches sadly, but doesn't say a word
INT SCHAEFER'S OFFICE. RKO LOT DAY
Welles paces before Schaefer's massive desk with typical combustible
energy. Behind the desk, huge picture windows show the bustling
activities of the RKO lot.
It's an awful title, of course, but I can't think
of anything better. Someone came up with A SEA OF
UPTURNED FACES -- which has a nice, grand ring to it
-- and I thought of JOHN CITIZEN, USA but that
strikes me as a bit Warner Brothers. Or, God forbid,
Capraesque. I suppose AMERICAN will do for now but--
CITIZEN KANE There's your title.
A "Z" and a "K" in the title. That would draw the
eye. For the poster. I like that THE PRISONER OF
ZENDA had a "Z" and a "P" and that worked--
Now look, Orson, let's not get ahead of ourselves.
The budget projections on this--
I know, I know! But what more can you expect of
me?! I have pared this story down to the marrow to
save money but to cut more would be to--!
Listen, get off your horse with me. You know I've
stuck by you since the beginning of time it seems
like, while the stockholders in New York were ready
to cut and run and everyone else in Hollywood was
set to toss me in a rubber room. But your contract
stipulates a max budget of 500 thousand. This one's
gonna come in at 750 thousand. What do we do about
Now don't have a fit -- but I want you to think
again about doing WAR OF THE WORLDS-
Do WAR OF THE WORLDS as a feature and everyone's
happy. You make some money and New York's happy and
you have a track record and then we'll move on to
Please don't ask me to do this.
It's the safe bet, Orson. There's nothing wrong
A long pause as Welles leans against a wall, his head down He does not
look at Schaefer as:
George, I want you to let me make this movie
because I need to make it. And I don't really know
why. Afterwards there' II be all the time in the
world to make money and sell popcorn. And I'll do
that for you. For RKO and New York. But for now ...
please let me tell this story.
A beat. Welles finally looks up at Schaefer
It's your decision, George. If you look into my
eyes right now and say, go make WAR OF THE WORLDS, I
will. I'll make it. And, yes, it'll make you money.
And I honestly can't think of a reason in the world why you should let
me do KANE other than that you should.
A long pause as Schaefer studies Welles. Then
If it'll get you the hell out of my office, go
ahead and make the picture.
Welles drops his head, too moved to speak.
Then he nods to Schaefer and begins to leave.
Say thank you, Orson.
Welles glances at him.
For the title
Ah, it's a grand title.
He sweeps out. Schaefer smiles and shakes his head.
Like it would kill him to say thank you
EXT SOUND STAGE. RKO LOT DAWN
The sun is just rising on the RKO lot. We note a sign on the wall by
the sound stage door:
CITIZEN KANE. RKO PRODUCTION #281. DIRECTOR: ORSON WELLES
INT RKO SOUND STAGE FOLLOWING
Welles stands in the mammoth sound stage and looks around, it is as if
he has entered a great cathedral. A few lights illuminate portions of
the stage and giant lighting rigs and scaffolding soar to the unseen
ceiling miles away.
The Xanadu Great Hall set awaits.
Welles slowly walks to the set and stands, surveying his domain,
savoring the moment.
Title: JULY 30, 1940
He clears his throat and speaks, rehearsing his first day speech to the
cast and crew. His voice echoes.
Today we - -
He stops, surprised by the echo.
Today we are going to break every rule in motion
No . . We are going to shatter every rule in
Today we are going to shatter the hallowed busts of Griffith and
DeMille and Ford. We are going to show the world a new way of seeing.
Together we will blaze a trail...
As Welles continues to rehearse we slowly ascend the scaffolding and
Together we will throw away all the maps and we
will become -joyously lost in the wilderness. And
the future cartographers of Hollywood will forever
chart our course. Following our lead...
We continue to ascend and finally discover two electricians on the
upper catwalk, staring down in amusement, much like the two stagehands
at the opera in KANE.
And do you know why we're going to do this?
Again to Welles on the stage floor: A beat. Welles slowly smiles.
We're going to do this because it's going to be
Above, one of the electrician's throws the switch on a huge spotlight.
Welles is captured in the vibrant white light and Benny Goodman's
immortal "SING, SING, SING" immediately explodes and we are into:
THE MAKING OF CITIZEN KANE
A camera crane sweeps dramatically to the ceiling of the sound stage
and brilliant white lights flash on.
A film clapper snaps: CITIZEN KANE. RKO PRODUCTION 281 DIRECTOR:
And we see Welles racing heroically into making his first movie:
In varying KANE makeups he tears through scenes and actors: laughing
with AGNES MOOREHEAD on the cabin set; charming RUTH WARRICK on
breakfast table set; berating DOROTHY COMMINGORE on the Great Hall
He speeds back and forth and back and forth from the set to the camera
in the Campaign Headquarters set, never happy with the shot. . .
Gregg Toland watches, bemused, as Welles shifts tiny prop pieces on the
set. . .
Welles bullies and screams and pleads and seduces. Like an obsessed
artistic tornado he is seemingly everywhere at once. We see him
rejecting matte paintings and in makeup and rewriting the script and
trying on costumes and selecting props and leaping into odd positions
looking for the perfect camera angle.
It is very important in this sequence that we see the pressure building
... building ... building ... on Welles.
"SING, SING, SING" continues On the Xanadu stairway set Welles behind
the camera, filming actor Paul Stewart
"Rosebud? I'll tell you about Rosebud.
A film clapper: take 58
"Rosebud? I'll tell you about Rosebud.
A film clapper: take 59
"Rosebud? I'll tell you about Rosebud.
"SING. SING, SING" continues...
in a corner of the sound stage:
Welles, in full Kane makeup, studies a miniature model of the Kane
Campaign Headquarters set through a tiny periscope with cinematographer
It needs a ceiling, Gregg. Real rooms have real
You want a ceiling on this one too?
Gonna be tough
No, it's gonna be impossible. That's why we're
SING, SING, SING" continues Back on the Xanadu stairway set: Poor Paul
Stewart, now at his wit's ends, continues:
"Rosebud? I'll tell you about Rosebud."
The film clapper: take 112.
"Rosebud? I'll tell you about Rosebud
Paul Stewart screams and collapses. "SING, SING, SING" continues... On
the Atlantic City nightclub set:
Welles watches as the camera crane attempts the dizzying and difficult
maneuver from the skylight at the top of the set
down to Dorothy Commingore as Susan Alexander below. The camera crane
goes out of control and crashes through some light fixtures and swings
crazily down toward Dorothy Commingore. She yelps and leaps away as the
camera barrels through the table and smashes to the floor.
Welles stands next to Toland. A beat.
Well, that didn't really work
"SING, SING, SING" continues. Back on the, Xanadu stairway set
Paul Stewart, dazed and shattered, is listening intently. Welles stands
with his arms around Stewart, embracing him, whispering into his ear.
It is the most important line of the picture. You
will weave the magic of "Rosebud" in a single word -
- you will say the word in such a way as to impart
to us the mystery of it. It is a divine and sinister
mystery worthy only of your talent. In this one word
the movie soars or falls. Once more, I beg you.
Stewart nods. The film clapper: take 178.
The cameraman leans into the viewfinder. We see his black- and-white
view of the shot through the lens then:
In a cramped editing room we see Welles watching the scene on an old
On the moviola we see Paul Stewart taking a deep breath and then,
"Rosebud? I'll tell you about Rosebud."
On the moviola we see Stewart laugh hysterically and dance away.
In the editing room, Welles shakes his head
"SING, SING, SING" continues. On the Campaign Headquarters set:
Welles and Toland lie on the floor of the Campaign Headquarters set and
gaze up through viewfinders. They squirm about on the floor and laugh
to one another about their newest outlandish idea.
Then Toland notices something in the catwalks high above the set. A
TOLAND Orson, you see that electrician up there? The redhead.
on GRAPES OF WRATH. He's a free- lance studio spy. Probably reports
right back to the RKO boys in New York.
Welles slowly stands and THUNDERS:
STOP EVERYBODY STOP!
All the flurried activity on the sound stage immediately stops.
Every eye turns, terrified, to Welles. Welles glares up at the
YOU COME DOWN HERE!
The electrician slowly climbs down from the rafters. Welles rivets him
every step of the way.
The electrician stops before Welles.
A tense beat and then Welles fiercely and purposefully spits in the
The electrician recoils, stunned.
Welles returns to Toland as the electrician slinks off "SING, SING,
SING" continues as:
We see the magnificent film emerging. Welles watching scenes in a
screening room, his feet up, exhausted, almost asleep, a cigar dangling
from his lips...
We see rushes of Welles going through scenes with Dorothy Commingore as
Susan Alexander. He is relentless with her off camera, driving her to
the harridan outbursts he wants just before he steps into the shot...
We see the crew observing, with great amusement, Welles' stumbling
attempts to learn the "Charlie Kane" dance...
We see Toland shifting lights to achieve deep-focus cross-fades. Welles
rages as the difficult process eats up time...
We see Welles growing increasingly manic. The long hours and the
pressure are clearly taking a toll..
We return to the screening room. Welles is now fully asleep. His cigar
falls from his mouth and begins smoldering on his suit.
"SING, SING, SING" fades at... On a Xanadu set:
Filming a scene. Welles, in old-Kane makeup, is sitting with Dorothy
Commingore as Susan Alexander. He is curiously distracted. She is
pouring tea in the scene:
"Charlie, you sure got the funniest ways of looking
at things . "
Welles does not respond. He breaks character
No -- no -- I'll pour the tea. Sorry. I should pour
the tea. Let's try that again.
Toland stands behind the camera and watches Welles. There is obviously
Okay, here we go... Set. Action
Welles pops into character and pours the tea in the scene as:
"Charlie, you sure got the funniest ways of looking
at things . "
Welles stops, breaks character again:
No -- that's not right
He clears his throat and glances at the enormous crew, all staring back
at him expectantly.
Urn. . . ah . . . yes -- you should definitely pour
the tea. Okay, again. Sorry.... Set. Action.
They start the scene again. She pours the tea
"Charlie, you sure got the funniest ways of looking
at things . "
A pause as she waits for his reply in the scene He sits, frozen.
Orson, you wanna take five?
Five...? Yes. No. We're done today
He slowly walks off the set as he nervously pulls at his tie, tearing
Toland watches him go.
INT BROWN DERBY DAY
Louella is at her usual corner booth, on the phone to one of her many
spies. She is devouring a Cobb salad as she hears:'
I don't know if this means anything but I just
talked to a guy in the RKO art department They've
got all these books and crap all over the place.
Pictures of San Simeon.
Louella instantly stops eating
For the Welles picture.
Pictures of the castle?
Thanks, doll. Get me more.
She hangs up, intrigued.
INT WELLES' HOUSE
Welles is standing, absolutely lost, in the middle of his living room.
He is still in his old-Kane makeup which is just beginning to peel off
We hear a low, insistent drum beat, a Gene Krupa riff.
We hear the sound of an ice pick chipping into a block of ice. Welles
glances around. We are no longer in Welles' living room but at. . .
INT MANK'S HOUSE. SANTA MONICA DAY
A turntable spins in a corner, playing a Gene Krupa record. Ashtrays
overflow with cigar butts and messy piles of pages are littered around
Mank's beach house is tiny and on the edge of squalid
Welles, still in his peeling old-Kane makeup, is standing in the middle
of the living room and Mank is in the small kitchenette, chipping ice
A long pause
And I'm looking at them -- and they're all looking
at me and I don't know who should pour the tea. '
I just can't . . see it anymore
Mank returns to the living room and thrusts a drink in Welles hand.
I want you back
Fuck you. (He sits.) You wanted me out. I'm out.
I don't care.
Welles hands Mank a folded script from his jacket. Mank looks at it as:
This is the shooting script we've been using every
Sure enough, the title page of the script reads: CITIZEN KANE by Herman
J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles.
It's just like we always said it would be
Mank hands it back
Too late, kid.
Did I ever tell you about my father?
I don't give a shit about-
He was a drunk. And he was my father and I was
ashamed of him.
A beat. Welles proceeds quietly and with difficulty.
He showed me the world, he took me with him
everywhere -- Europe, China -- and he was so proud
of me. But he would drink and he would get
...embarrassing. And I began to resent him Because I
was so ... sparkling, you see.
So I cut him dead. I turned my back and I walked away because I didn't
need him. He was getting in the way of my "genius." And he would write
me letters, and I never answered them, and he would call me, and I
never took his calls, and he showed up at school and I wouldn't see
Tears are beginning to inch down Welles' face
When I finally saw him again, he was in a coffin. I
was fifteen. And all of a sudden he wasn't that
embarrassing drunk anymore ... he was the man who
showed me the world.
Welles looks up at Mank, tears now streaming down his face.
Just like you, Mank.
A long beat. Mank, despite himself, is moved.
To cover his emotion Mank rises and goes into the kitchen to freshen
his drink. We remain tight on Welles as we hear Mank's voice:
So you've lost it? Don't know who should pour the
Orson ... just cut the goddamn tea
A beat. Welles reaches for a cigar, tears still wet on his face.
I been thinking about the beach scene. You done
Good -- cause I was thinking that we're starting
the scene too late...
Welles quickly bites off the end of his cigar -- his expression one of
"Gotcha!" -- even as. his cheeks are still wet with tears.
MANK'S VOICE (CONT.)
Cause if we don't show Susan watching Kane more
then we're not building the right tension into the
scene. See, she's gotta know that...
Welles slowly smiles as the record of Gene Krupa's percussion segues
into the unmistakable rhythms of "SING, SING, SING" and eclipses Mank's
And we see Welles everywhere, more energized than ever: perilous on a
high crane; stuck in a cramped corner behind the camera; doing magic
tricks for the cast; sleeping as makeup is applied to his face...
Mank is always at Welles' side: supporting; challenging; amusing;
inspiring. . .
We see Welles strutting, raging, boasting, dancing. And again towering.
"SING, SING, SING" finally ends at..
Through the black-and-white viewfinder we see Welles, in full costume
and makeup, carefully walking across the massive Kane Campaign
Headquarters set toward us. We see the low angle black-and-white
Closer ... closer ... closer -- stop. We just lost
Can you see my shoes?
Yeah, but we lose your head.
Goddamn it Joe -- stand here
JOSEPH COTTON, also in full costume and makeup, steps into the shot and
takes Welles' position as Welles scurries out of the frame. . ..
INT SOUND STAGE. RKO NIGHT. FOLLOWING
Welles marches across the set and squirms into position at the camera,
which is right on the floor, and peers up through the viewfinder.
Toland lies next to him. Mank stands to one side and- watches.
It's just not low enough. This is the scene. We
have to look up at these two man as pillars soaring
to the sky. As towering virtues in combat--
Spare me the aria, I know what you want--
I need my shoes in total focus right here and also
Joe back there--!
I know what you want but it can't be done!
Take apart the fucking camera rig -- we could get a
few more inches down and then tilt up--
Orson -- we can't get the fucking camera any
fucking lower so find another fucking shot!
Welles thinks for a moment and then bolts up. Toland watches,
mystified, as Welles races to a sound stage fire station and grabs a
fire axe. Welles storms back to the set and raises the axe high. Toland
quickly rolls away. And Welles slams the axe into the wooden floor of
the set. He continues to hack at the floor.
Come on, Gregg! We'll tear out this floor!
Welles and Toland and various grips hack at the floor
Mank watches, bemused, and checks his watch
Welles and Toland finally tear away the remnants of the wooden floor.
They stare down, defeated. Under the wood is solid concrete.
Welles and Toland stand and stare at the concrete
It's midnight, why don't we pick it up tomorrow?
Welles does not answer. He continues to eye the concrete Then:
Get me a jackhammer.
We see a grip pounding away at the concrete with a jackhammer as
Welles, always in motion, sweeps past Mank and Joseph Cotton.
(wryly, to Cotton)
There but for the grace of God, goes God.
Welles slams to a halt in front of the unit physician and thrusts out
an arm. The physician injects him with a dose of B-12.
Welles can barely wait for the injection before he speeds off.
Welles supervises as Toland lowers the camera into the freshly dug hole
in the middle of the sound stage. Mank checks his watch, 3:30 AM.
Welles leaps into the trench to check the camera setup.
Again we see the view through the black-and-white viewfinder. Joseph
Cotton stands at a distance, at the far wall of the set.
Okay, Joe . . . come closer . . . closer
We see Cotton approaching. He finally stops inches away from the
camera. His shoes and the far wall of the set are both in total focus.
It is a breathtaking, vertiginous shot.
Then we see Welles and Joseph Cotton rehearsing and rehearsing and
filming and filming the scene. Endlessly
Finally we seem to be seeing the scene from the movie
"Well, if you got drunk to talk to me about Miss
Alexander, don't bother. I'm not interested. I've
set back the sacred cause of reform, is that it? All
right, if that's the way they want it, the people
have made their choice. It's obvious the people
prefer Jim Gettys to me."
"You talk about the people as if you owned them. As
though they belonged to you. As long as I can
remember, you've talked about--" (he breaks
Orson, I am so goddamn tired--
We continue to watch the scene through the viewfinder:
(to the camera operator)
I can't remember the lines!
Then make them up! You're drunk and you're angry.
He shoves Joseph Cotton brutally
This is the chance you've been waiting for, boy.
Tell that son of a bitch just what you think of him!
We're not all hopped up on benzedrine, Orson I Some
of us humans need sleep!
Welles shoves him again.
You're not going to get another chance, boy! Look
right at the monster and you tell him--
"You don't care about anything except you. You just
want to persuade people that you
JOSEPH COTTON (CONT.)
love them so much that they ought to love you back.
Only you want love on your own terms. "
"A toast then, Jedediah, to love on my own terms.
Those are the only terms anybody ever knows, his
Welles/Kane drinks. A long pause.
We jump out of the black-and-white viewfinder and into the scene as
Welles turns to an assistant.
How 'bout a real drink?
The crew members exhale and practically collapse
Welles stands and looks around in satisfaction. He takes in the empty
corners of the sound stage, the sets, the cameras Savoring the moment.
He walks to the massive doors of the sound stage and pulls them open.
Sunlight floods in.
Outside it is a blazing morning and the dazzling sunlight silhouettes
Welles squints and steps into the glorious sunlight. Mank and Toland
follow. They stand and watch as RKO extras and crews bustle about on
their way to work. The assistant brings a tray of martinis.
They each take a glass. The RKO workers stare at them oddly as they
Welles toasts them.
Good morning, good morning. . .
He grabs a passing extra and dances with her as Mank and Toland laugh.
EXT HEDDA'S MANSION. PATIO MORNING
Hedda Hopper reclines on her patio. An extremely ugly pug dog sits in
her lap. She has green goo all over her face and a cigarette dangling
from her lips.
Title: THREE MONTHS LATER. JANUARY 3, 1941
She is going through the trades. She stops at a particular item. She
studies it and then reaches for the phone and dials.
Orson, Hedda here! You naughty boy! You told me
that I would be positively the first human soul to
see your masterpiece and here I read in the Reporter
that there's a screening tonight for the magazines
... yes, advance deadlines, I understand . . . (she
smiles) . . . oh, rough cut, uh-huh ... Been there,
Orson, know the drill. See ya tonight!
She hangs up. Her hideous dog leaps on her and starts licking her face
Get offa me, ya little prick
INT OUTSIDE AN RKO SCREENING ROOM NIGHT
Welles paces nervously outside the doors to the screening room.
Schaefer stands leaning against a wall.
From inside we can hear some of the final dialogue from CITIZEN KANE.
This is an abomination There's no music and--
They've all seen a rough cut
The magazines are one thing -- but Hedda! Why did
we have to let her come?!
When Hedda says "I'm coming" you mix a lot of
martinis and you pray.
Silence from inside the screening room. The movie is over. An agonizing
Then the doors swing open and the guests stream out. Totally neutral
The bejeweled Valkyrie, Hedda herself, finally emerges. She stops
She reaches up and pinches his cheek, a bit too hard. And then she
slaps his cheek, a bit too hard.
And then she goes
What the hell did that mean?!
EXT HEDDA' S MANSION. PATIO MORNING
Hedda paces and smokes as she waits on the phone. Finally, she is
Why hello, Mr. Hearst! I'm so delighted you could
take my call. I just wanted to let you know -- I saw
this Orson Welles picture last night. First
screening ever, don't cha know, and, Mr. Hearst, I
don't understand something . . . (she smiles
wickedly) ... I just don't understand why Louella
hasn't told you it ' s all about you. . . Yes, oh
yes . . . My pleasure, sir.
She hangs up
Take that, you old cow
INT SCHAEFER'S OFFICE DAY
Schaefer sits at his desk, going through some budget sheets. His
intercom buzzes, he presses a button:
SECRETARY'S VOICE Mr. Schaefer, Miss Parsons is here
Here? As in right outside the door?
(chipper, into intercom)
Well, send her in!
He releases his intercom button
He bolts up and races to the liquor cabinet as Louella sweeps in like
the Lusitania in fur.
Schaefer, I gotta see this Welles picture
Louella, hello, I was just fixing a drink, would
You drink at 10 am, do you?
No -- no -- I mean--
I wanna see the picture today
That might be a tad difficult because Orson is
scoring the picture now and he's very particular
about the music--
Cut the malarkey, buddy. The boss himself wants me
to see the picture today.
He personally asked you to?
I'll be back at noon. Set it up in screening room
She sweeps out
INT RKO SCREENING ROOM DAY
Louella watches CITIZEN KANE
We watch her enormous face, grim and glowering, bathed in flickering
blue light as we hear a bit of the dialogue:
" KANE "
"You'll continue with your singing, Susan. I don't
propose to have myself made ridiculous. "
"You don't propose to have yourself made ridiculous
I What about me?! I'm the one that's got to do the
singing! I'm the one who gets the razzberries!"
With that, Louella bolts up and stomps out of the screening^ room... '
INT OUTSIDE THE SCREENING ROOM FOLLOWING
Welles and Schaefer are again nervously waiting in the hallway.
Louella slams out the door and almost crashes into Welles A beat as she
glares at him. If looks could kill She storms off
Welles and Schaefer are too stunned even to speak as we hear:
It is . . . assassination.
INT SAN SIMEON. ASSEMBLY ROOM DAY
Hearst sits with one of his dachshunds on his lap Louella sits across
Hearst does not move a muscle in the entire scene.
It's all you. It has the political campaigns and
the mining fortune and the war with Pulitzer and the
castle. And ... Marion.
The jigsaw puzzles and the, urn, career -- the man
spending a fortune to make her a star -- only it's
opera and not movies. And...
So my life is a subject for mockery. All of it.
Every detail. Every personal detail.
Thank you for your time
Thank you, sir. She begins to leave
Miss Parsons, I have one additional question for
Why did we not know about this sooner?
I pay you a good deal of money to be my eyes and
ears in Hollywood, do I not? If you cannot provide
this simple service you are of no use to me.
Please be quiet.
A young man has made a motion picture detailing my life. This motion
picture was made at a not insignificant studio. And you knew nothing
He lied to me
He looked into my face and told me it wasn't about
And how do you feel when you are lied to?
I want blood
Good. Retain that feeling. Let it nourish you from
this day forth. It shall nourish us both
She nods and leaves the room We linger on Hearst, his expression dark
INT SCHAEFER'S OFFICE EVENING
Welles reclines on a sofa, smoking a cigar, orating, while Schaefer
sits at his desk absently flipping through the evening edition of the
Give me one dinner with her and I'll sort it out.
Woman of a certain age are woefully susceptible to a
younger man's charm. I'll make myself so
monumentally attractive that
He is distracted by Schaefer flipping through the newspaper anxiously.
Schaefer tears back and forth in the paper and then swivels around in
his chair to grab another newspaper. He flips through it. And then
Welles leaps up and goes to Schaefer's desk.
Schaefer has placed the two newspapers side by side on his desk.
He points to one
This is the morning edition of the EXAMINER.
He points to the other
And this is the evening edition. Notice anything?
Indeed, the morning edition contains a large ad for the RKO movie KITTY
FOYLE. In the evening edition the ad has been replaced by innocuous
They dumped our ad.
He flips through the evening edition and then looks up at Welles.
They dumped all our ads.
INT MAYER'S OFFICE DAY
Louis B. Mayer sits at his massive desk, taking notes Hearst sweeps in.
Mayer is surprised.
Hope you don't mind my popping in--
No -- no -- sit down, please
What a wretched place this is. I can't come to town
without feeling filthy. You really must buy that
parcel of land by the castle and come north.
I only wish I could. You know, business
Quite. And this is why I came to visit. Have you
heard about this CITIZEN KANE picture?
Over at RKO?
Mm. Not a very good picture I am told.
Apparently it details the exploits of a publisher
like myself. Entirely too much like myself. Do you
follow so far?
I can't see how the release of that picture will do
anyone any good, really.
Say, while I'm in town why don't we play 18 holes
at Bel Air? Or maybe just nine. Do you have time for
a round today?
He gazes at Mayer. Mayer looks at him, disquieted
And maybe we could get Mr. Warner and Mr. Goldwyn
and Mr. Cohn and Mr. Selznick to play as well.
You know that can't happen.
Oh, why is that?
Why is that, Louis?
Bel Air is restricted.
Oh, that's right. How silly of me to have
forgotten. I sometimes forget that you're all Jews.
Lots of people forget that. If they ever knew it.
A tense pause
See what you can do about this CITIZEN KANE
picture, won't you?
And you'll come out to the castle soon, I hope
Marion and I would love to see more of you.
He smiles and goes. Mayer sits, shaken
INT BROWN DERBY NIGHT
Schaefer sits with Louella in her corner booth
That's right, fella, no Hearst paper will run an
RKO ad until you agree that CITIZEN KANE will never
see the light of day.
Louella, please, be reasonable, I understand you
have problems with Orson's picture but maybe we can
work something out--
Nix, sweetie. You shelve it
Oh for God's sake, Louella-
And Mr. Hearst has authorized me to tell you that
you're looking at the most beautiful lawsuit in
history if you release this picture. He'll bleed
your little studio dry and you can all go on back to
New York and do Shakespeare with the Boy Wonder.
Can I talk to Hearst?
You are talking to him.
INT SAN SIMEON. ASSEMBLY ROOM DAY
Hearst stands with his arms behind his back, very Kane-like, and
surveys a collection of about 30 newspapers spread around the floor at
his feet. His newspapers.
Marion sits in a corner, doing needlepoint. Hearst picks up one of his
The Journal was pretty harsh to Roosevelt today.
You oughta lay off him -- he is the p-p-president,
He is a Bolshevik. He will have us at war by the
end of the year. I think I'm going to run that
She holds up her needlepoint
It is a sampler reading: BLESS THIS CASTLE He laughs
JOE WILLICOMBE, Hearst's private secretary, enters quietly. Willicombe
is a serious and sensitive man in his 60's. He is unquestioningly loyal
to the old man.
Sir, we got the call.
A moment. Hearst looks at him. Willicombe shakes his head sadly.
Thank you, Joseph.
Willicombe glides out
A long pause as Hearst moves to a window and stares down at his domain.
Marion watches him.
How bad is it?
Nothing for you to worry about, darling
The S.E.C. has turned down my request for relief on
It's not really--
She is absolutely stunned. A pause
We're 125 million dollars in debt?
Hearst continues to gaze out the window. Marion goes to him and holds
him tenderly. ;
They look down at the massive San Simeon estate spreading out like
Wonderland below them.
How does one get 125 million dollars in debt?
One . . . buys things.
INT RECORDING STAGE NIGHT
KANE composer BERNARD HERMANN stands before an orchestra, going over
some of the music for KANE. He tries various measures and makes
adjustments. A movie screen is ready to run sections of the film.
Welles sits at the back of the room, talking quietly to Gregg Toland.
Welles is bewitching, spinning a web:
We open on Monument Valley. Those towering
stalagmites reaching up like pleading fingers to
God. A single figure treads the arid plains. The
crimson sun is behind him so his shadow stretches
toward us. He is a simple man wearing a simple robe.
A profoundly quiet and sad man. Who is he?
Bernard Hermann turns back to Welles and Toland
(whispering, to Toland)
Who is he, Gregg?
You want to do the life of Jesus?
Yes! Vibrant and modern and stark like a Picasso
sketch drawn to flashes of lightning I We shoot the
whole thing in the gallant American West--
Mank joins them, carrying a newspaper.
Hey, kid. Gregg.
Mank, sit down. You missed the opening of the new
picture but I'll go back--
No, you gotta hear this-
(snapping back at them)
I'm trying to work here!
Sorry, you keep at it, old boy.
He leads Toland and Mank out of the stage and into the sound proof
INT. SOUND BOOTH
A few sound engineers and mixers work over recording panels and watch
Hermann and the orchestra as Welles, Toland and Mank enter.
You read Louella?
No, but I can imagine. What am I today? A "puny
upstart" or a "spoiled dilettante" -- no, she
wouldn't know how to spell that
"And how is the country to feel when this industry
continues to employ bedraggled foreigners and
swarthy refugees instead of real Americans? Doesn't
Hollywood know there's a Depression on? Don't real
Americans deserve work?"
Well, at least she's off KANE today
No she's not. Don't you get it, ya lunk? She's
using code language to the studio bosses.
"Bedraggled foreigners and swarthy refugees" -- who
the hell do you think she's talking about?
Jews. She's talking about Jews.
Welles' smile fades.
Who owns this town? Who runs every goddamn studio?
The tribe, baby. These fuckers hear the word "Jew"
and they start sweating. Like Ester Williams' pool
they start sweating.
So they're Jews. . .
This is just the first shot. Maestro. Sooner or
later she's gonna use the word. And all those boys
know that there is only one thing this country hates
more than the coloreds and that's the Jews.
Me, I'm proud to be a Jew, I got no problem. You
don't like it, fuck you. But with these guys it's
like a dirty word. All they wanna be is good red-
white-and-blue Americans, and the way they see it
you can't be a good American and a Jew. So Sam
Goldfish becomes Sam Goldwyn and David Selznick
becomes David 0. Selznick -- like anyone's gonna
think he's Irish for fuck's sake--
What does this have to do with--?
Believe you me, they're gonna do anything -- and I
mean absolutely anything -- to stop that word from
What?! Are they going to kill me? Is that what
they're going to do?!
One of the sound technicians turns to Welles:
SOUND TECHNICIAN Sorry, Mr. Welles, I can't really hear
Welles, Mank and Toland quickly decamp to a hallway outside the
INT HALLWAY FOLLOWING
They emerge into the hallway. Mank lights a cigar.
Let me tell you a story, son So this was 1924,
right? Hearst was throwing a birthday party for
Thomas Ince, the old movie producer. They were all
on the old man's yacht taking a nice jaunt from
Pedro down to San Diego. Real foggy night it was.
This was Hearst, Marion, Ince, Charlie Chaplin,
Louella, the usual gorillas. So Hearst notices
Marion slip off with Chaplin -- she was screwing
everyone then -- and the old man goes nuts. Grabs
his revolver and starts shooting. Just like Tom Mix,
standing there blasting away through the fog. Boom -
- boom -- boom -- and Thomas Ince takes a bullet
through the head. So now there's this dead guy lying
on the deck. You'll see how this could be quite an
embarrassment. So the empire goes into action. Nice
and quiet and Ince was cremated lickety-split. No
inquest and no police. It was right after this that
Hearst gives Louella her life-time contract. Just to
keep her all hush-hush.
A beat as Mank gazes at Welles.
If he had known about KANE before you made it,
you'd be dead already.
It's too late. The movie's made
They won't let it out. Not Hearst. Not the other
You wrote the damn thing, Mank Aren't you going to
fight for it?!
I told you this was going to happen! I told you he
was going to come after us! So we took the chance
anyway and we lost. That's how it goes, okay? I got
my check, kid, and so did you -- and that's what
it's all about -- so fuck it and move on.
Welles leans forward in a sudden explosion of anger
I WILL NOT MOVE ON! Let them do their worst! These
petty tyrants! These monstrous, small men Do they
think they can stop us? I Who are they?! Who are
they?! THEY ARE . .. ACCOUNTANTS I
Bernard Hermann appears at a doorway from the recording stage.
We're ready. You want to hear it?
Welles goes with Hermann into the stage. Toland and Mank stand in
His next picture ... he wants to play Christ.
Hope he's planning to start with the crucifixion.
76 INT RECORDING STAGE FOLLOWING
Welles sits at the back of the stage, deep in thought
Bernard Hermann raises his baton and prepares to conduct. The opening
shots of KANE -- fog shrouded Xanadu -- are projected on the screen.
Hermann conducts and the orchestra plays.
We watch the first images of the film with the brilliant music.
We pull back to reveal we are at
INT SAN SIMEON. SCREENING ROOM NIGHT
Hearst and Marion are sitting in the plush San Simeon screening room,
surrounded by a passel of dachshunds. Five or six friends are also
spread around the room. Joe Willicombe is also present.
We watch their faces as they watch CITIZEN KANE
During this sequence we hear bits and pieces of KANE as we watch Hearst
and Marion react.
We see Marion's initial amusement give way to a forced neutrality.
We see Hearst becoming increasingly uncomfortable, reacting physically,
almost writhing, as his soul is laid bare. Then his face grows cold.
We see Joe Willicombe, offended.
We see the other guests, horrified and afraid to even so much as glance
Finally, we hear the ending of the movie:
"Throw that junk in, too.
We hear Bernard Hermann's closing music begin to play out
Hearst abruptly stands, the final images of the film washing over his
Switch it off SWITCH IT OFF
The film suddenly stops and lights come up around the screening room.
Silence No one looks at Hearst.
Would everyone please leave
The guests and Joe Willicombe solemnly file out A pause
Well -- he got us, didn't he?
She stands and goes quickly to pour a drink. A forced laugh
Nailed us, hub? The crazy old man and his whore.
Bought and p-p-paid for. Just like one of his
goddamn statues. Well at least in the movie he
I am not that woman.
I know what I could have been. I know what I gave up to stay with you.
I mean he's even got the goddamn jigsaw puzzles
She dissolves into sobs. He cradles her in the empty screening room
Why did he do that to us?
INT SAN SIMEON. ASSEMBLY ROOM NIGHT
Hearst is as we have never seen him before. He is in a titanic rage.
He paces back and forth violently like a caged animal, becoming
increasingly manic and uncontrolled, clenching his fists and barking to
And now of all times -- NOW -- when I am grasping
on with my fingernails to live at all this Orson We
lies -- this insect -- this reprehensible insect --
has the nerve TO CHALLENGE ME! To show my life as
some cheap sideshow -- A FREAK SHOW -- A DYING,
IMPOTENT OLD FREAK IN HIS CASTLE!
He smashes a collection of figurines and sends them sailing across the
room. Hearst's rage gives way to a darker passion:
Mr. Willicombe -- you have seen me in adversity --
you have seen me take on the unions and the Congress
and the railroads -- and we have risen above -- we
have risen above. And if that dog Welles thinks he
can strike at me now -- when he thinks I'm weak when
he thinks I'm vulnerable -- then he does not fully
comprehend the man is facing.
WILLICOMBE Mr. Welles can't know anything about the
Get me Louella Parsons, now!
Willicombe picks up a phone and begins dialing as Hearst continues:
This upstart -- this puny man -- how does he even
dare to imagine he could comprehend my life and my
world when he crawls with the other insects in the
sewer -- in the dung -- when we control every moment
of his life from the instant he is born to the
instant we decide that he will die! Does he have no
idea of the power that controls him?!
Mr. Hearst, I have Miss Par'
Hearst snatches the phone from Willicombe
Miss Parsons, Mr. Hearst. Use the file
He slams down the phone
Now get me J. Edgar Hoover
WILLICOMBE It's very late in Washington-
Then wake him up!
Willicombe begins to dial
That insect thinks he knows me! He thinks he knows
my capabilities! When his neck is in my teeth and
his blood is in my throat then he will know WILLIAM
INT MAYER'S OFFICE. MGM DAY
Louis B. Mayor's eyes are blinking behind his glasses
In his glasses we can see vague reflections of a series of grainy
photographs showing sex acts and illicit assignations and corpses and
We pull back to reveal Mayer flipping through a stack of photos and
Louella sits, smoking and supremely confident, across from him.
Mayer finally closes the file and removes his glasses. He rubs his
eyes. He rises unsteadily and goes to a liquor cabinet and pours
himself a stiff drink. He gulps it down and then returns to his desk.
A pause and then he finally looks at Louella
So what do we got here, L.B.? We got faggots and
commies and junkies. We got movie stars screwing
niggers and little girls. We got killers and
perverts and whores.
We got MGM and Warner Brothers and Columbia and
Disney and Fox.
We got Jews
We got Hollywood.
What do you want?
Kill CITIZEN KANE.
I don't give a shit.
The boss is working on some stuff and I'm working
on some stuff. Now I want all you boys working on
some stuff. Cause if it looks like this picture's
ever gonna come out -- I start running down the
street with these pictures like a screaming woman
with my throat cut, you follow?
J. EDGAR HOOVER'S OFFICE
Bulldog-like FBI Director HOOVER sits erect at his desk. Behind him an
imposing FBI Seal catches the light.
He presses a button on his intercom.
Agent McCabe, if you please.
His secretary, clean-cut FBI agent McCABE, enters quickly with a note
pad. Agent McCabe scribbles as Hoover dictates:
Open a new file. Heading: Welles, Orson. Native
HILLS AROUND SAN SIMEON DAY
Marion and Joe Willicombe sit in deck chairs under the blazing sun.
Marion absently pets a dachshund in her lap. Servants stand behind them
with lunch and trays of iced tea
They watch Hearst riding a horse in the distance A pause. Then:
How bad is it?
Come on Joe. How bad is it?
Hearst gallops up to them. A servant helps him down from his horse. He
strides briskly to Marion and Willicombe as:
I've been thinking about the Tribune in Chicago.
The Examiner just can't make any headway.
Circulation is still down. I think we should buy the
Marion glances to Willicombe and then looks at Hearst with great
Sure, Pops. That's a swell idea
INT MANK'S HOUSE. SANTA MONICA DAY
Manks pounding away at a typewriter in his tiny beach house.
He grumbles to himself as he types:
... and Rita Hayworth says: "You see, he truly was
the Son of God" ... big Toland lighting effect ...
blah, blah, blah ...
A knock at the door. Mank answers it. Clean-cut FBI Agent McCabe stands
outside. He flashes his badge.
Mr. Mankiewicz, I'm Special Agent McCabe of the
Federal Bureau of Investigation. Might I have a
moment of your time?
Sure, kid, come in. I'm writing the crucifixion and
it's a bitch. Sit down
Agent McCabe sits and snaps open a note pad
I would like to ask you a few questions about Mr.
You guys after Orson too?
Are you aware of Mr. Welles' Communist
Shit, Orson's no pink. He's everything else under
the sun, but he's no pink.
Are you aware of Mr. Welles' Communist
No, I am not
Do you have any knowledge of Communists working
within the motion picture industry?
Do you have any knowledge of Communists working
within the motion picture industry?
Are you now or have you ever been a member of, or
affiliated with, the Communist Party or any of its
front organizations in the United States?
Are you now or have you ever been a member of--
I think you better leave
Are you now or have you--
Get the fuck outta my house.
Agent McCabe snaps his note pad closed and stands.
Thank you for your time, Mr. Mankiewicz. We'll be
Agent McCabe leaves
(calling after him)
Don't bother, you low-life prick
Mank slams the door
He stands for a moment, pale, and then goes to the kitchen and pours
himself a stiff drink.
INT SAN SIMEON, ASSEMBLY ROOM DAY
Marion is pouring a drink as well. She quickly fills a glass of Scotch
and then begins striding back and forth across the Assembly Room.
Hearst sits quietly at one of the jigsaw puzzles He occasionally and
absently puts a piece in place.
She has clearly been at him for some time
Then you explain it to me?!
There's nothing to explain
A million dollars a year on art and st-st-statues
and there's nothing to explain?!
I will not defend my life to you--
I'm not asking you to defend anything. But we're in
a pickle and we gotta talk about it.
We are in no "pickle" -- as you would
euphemistically have it.
You gotta wake up now. Pops.
There is nothing to discuss-
You don't have any money left, okay?! That's the
truth. I don't wanna say it, nobody else will say
it, but it's the truth. You spent it all. You can't
buy the Tribune in Chicago -- you can't buy ^ g-g-
goddamn thing. Now you better face up to it--
You are being typically theatrical, Marion. I need
the Tribune to--
You don't need it! That's the problem you always
think you need everything--
Marion spins to a medieval arras cloth hanging from one wall.
That -- did you need that? How much did that cost?
It's 12th Century. From Deauville -- in France.
I know where Deauville is for C-C-Christ's sake.
You needn't use that language with me
Did you need it? Did you need any of it?
I wanted it
There's a different between want and
Not for me.
But why? Just so you can show it all off -- just so
everyone can see what a b-b-big man you are?!
He stands quickly
That's right. You've captured me exactly.
You will not walk out on me
You are repellant when you drink.
Tough shit. We need to t-t-talk about this--
You are slovenly and unattractive and I won't (he
mercilessly mimics her) t-t-t-tolerate it.
A cold beat
Fuck you, Mr. Kane.
I will not have this in my home.
I just want to understand--
No, you don't. You want to condemn me, like
everyone else. You want to point to the pathetic,
old man grown lunatic with his spending -- trapped
in his ridiculous
castle -- still fighting old battles he will never
win with Pulitzer and Roosevelt and Hollywood--
I don't want you to--
There is nothing to understand but this: I am a
man who could have been great, but was not.
INT SAN SIMEOM. MARION'S BEDROOM DAY
A silent scene as we see Marion rummaging through some drawers in her
A suitcase can be seen on the bed behind her.
She removes various jewelry cases and pours an astounding array of gems
into a black leather pouch.
INT. ELIZABETH ARDEN SALON. BEVERLY HILLS DAY
Marion sits with Carole Lombard in a secluded section of the luxurious
A quiet scene.
When I met him I was just 20. And he was 55. I saw
the gold ring and just grabbed on. And he was going
to make me a star.
And he did.
When I was making movies I kept begging him to let
me do comedies. Silly stuff, you know. But Pops
doesn't get comedy too well so he kept putting me in
all those godawful p-p-period dramas.
Carole Lombard smiles.
I did my best but, well, you know me
Thing that bothers me now, though, looking back is
that I really think I could have been something ...
Thinking like that is only gonna drive you nuts You
were a great star and you had a good run. That
oughta be enough.
Yeah. But all of a sudden it's not
You know this CITIZEN KANE picture? About Pops and
The character that's supposed to be me, Susan
Marion, everyone knows you're not like that--
But I am That's the killer, honey.
This little girl comes from nowhere and gets discovered by this guy.
And maybe she has some real talent way deep down. But he pays the bills
and he makes the decisions. And somewhere along the way ... she gets
It's hell when you gotta look back and say,
goddamn, what I could have been.
JEWELRY STORE. BEVERLY HILLS
Marion enters a posh Beverly Hills jewelry shop. She is wearing
She nervously goes to the counter and the SHOP OWNER glides to her. For
Marion, the entire experience is humiliating. This results in her
stutter becoming increasingly more pronounced.
May I help you?
I, um, need an estimate on some jewelry I might
wish to sell. But d-d-discretion is very important
to me b-b-because I don't want anyone t-t-to, um,
Excuse me, I hope this isn't rude, but aren't you
Well, this is a great pleasure. Miss Davies! I just
saw that ENCHANTMENT is playing at a the Tivoli, the
revival house in Santa Monica. That was a fine
Not one of them today has what you had, Miss
Davies. Not one of them.
Thank you -- b-b-but I'd really like t-t-to--
Of course, of course. How can we be of service?
As I said I have some j-j-j-j- (she simply can't
get the word out) that I might wish t-t-to sell and
I wanted an estimate--
Surely My pleasure, Miss Davies..
Marion removes the leather pouch from her purse and pours a stunning
collection of jewelry on a black felt tablet on the counter.
My Lord. . .
Marion removes her sunglasses and looks at him. Her eyes are red.
How much for the lot?
EXT RKO LOT DAY
Welles is pursuing Schaefer as they stride through the bustling RKO
What do you want me to do, Orson? Radio City won't
premiere the picture. Louella threatened them with
some bullshit about
Then find another theater
You don't think I've tried? No one is willing to
open the picture
Then we'll open it in Detroit or Dallas or
Kalamazoo for God's sake! We'll show it in goddamn
circus tents and--!
Listen to me. The press ban is killing us and the
distributors won't book it. And meantime I'm dealing
with the stockholders in New York who are scared
shitless -- and I'm this far from getting fired
myself -- and you don't have a friend in the world
but me right now. So you have got to trust that I'll
do what I can to--
"Do what you can"?! That's not good enough I
Well it' s all you've got !
You're with them, aren't you? You're going to bury
my movie. They bought you!
For Christ's sake, shut up--
Why don't you just have the guts to admit it
(spinning on him)
How dare you talk to me like that! Do you think I'm
like all the rest of those pirates?! Like Mayer and
Warner? Is that what you think--?!
It's just that my movie is so-
"Your movie" -- I am so sick of that! It's your
movie -- but it's his life! Did you ever think about
that?! Did you ever think about that old man and
Marion having to watch as you tore them apart?!
Do you every think for one second that you might
have some responsibility for what you're doing?! For
cutting and slashing everything in your way so you
can have your goddamn movie?!
That soulless monster gets no tears from me.
Who the fuck are you trying to kid? You are that
Schaefer turns and stomps away Welles stands, lost for a moment in the
In a bit of a daze, Welles slowly begins walking through the backlot. A
bustle of loud activity in a corner of the lot draws his attention.
A bulldozer and a dozen workmen are busy tearing down the facade of a
large white mansion. They strip the wood off and toss it into an
Welles sees Schaefer standing before all this activity, deep in
Welles goes to him and they stand together in silence for a moment as
they watch the house being razed.
Welles shakes his head
It's Tara. From GONE WITH THE WIND
Pause as they watch Scarlett O'Hara's dream mansion being torn apart.
It's ... sad
Not really. It's only a set, after all Just lumber.
You know, we make all these pictures, we turn em
out one after another, without thinking most of the
time. Just like making toasters or Packards or
toothpaste. But then sometimes ... something amazing
happens and you get a GONE WITH THE WIND.
Or a CITIZEN KANE
And no one can ever take that away from you.
They gaze at the destruction of Tara as we hear:
RADIO ANNOUNCER (VOICE OVER)
... and in financial news, rumors continue to swirl
around the head of publishing baron William Randolph
Hearst. . .
INT SAN SIMEON. ROMAN POOL NIGHT
Hearst sits in a wicker chair by the shimmering in-door Roman Pool. But
for Hearst and the single chair, the pool is deserted and has no other
Hearst is staring at the gold and blue mosaic of tiles reflected in the
As we hear:
RADIO ANNOUNCER (VOICE OVER, CONT.)
... Sources report that the Hearst Empire is
facing some rocky times ahead as the press lord is
facing mounting debts and shrinking revenues due to
over expansion and fiscal mismanagement that have
The radio voice fades to silence.
The silence continues but for the haunting echo of a lion roaring in
the distance. Then Hearst hears the sound of footsteps echoing on the
tile. He looks up. It is Marion. She walks around the pool to him.
Without a word she hands him a check.
It is made out to William Randolph Hearst in the amount of one million
dollars and is signed Marion Davies.
A long pause. He looks up at her, profoundly moved.
I started out as a gold-digger, ya know But goddamn
if I didn't fall in love with the guy.
EXT MAYER'S ESTATE DAY
A row of six shining limousines are lined up in front of Mayor's
enormous house. The chauffeurs stand together and chat.
EXT. MAYER'S ESTATE. BACKYARD
Mayer sits in the glorious back garden of his house. Six other men are
gathered around him.
Mayer nods his head to each as we pan around the faces
Mr. Zanuck ... Mr. Warner ... Mr. Cohn Mr. Disney
.. . Mr. Goldwyn . . . Mr. Selznick.
Thank you all for coming. You got my memo. What do we do?
He's a fucking punk, why does Hearst give a shit?
It's enough that he does
Would Louella really do it?
In a New York minute
DAVID 0. SELZNICK
I say to hell with Louella and to hell with Hearst!
Bring 'em on. We can take em.
We all didn't make GONE WITH THE WIND, ya know.
Some of us gotta look at this checkbook-wise.
Who isn't hurting already? All this Jew talk and
these Communist rumors. Look, he's boycotting RKO
ads right now -- but how long before he takes on
Warners or Fox or Columbia?
And if Hearst goes public with all this filthy
private lives stuff, Hollywood's sunk. He's got us
nailed. Dates. Times. Photographs for God's sake.
I don't mean to be funny, but what could he have on
He's got you so tied in with J. Edgar Hoover and
America First that you might as well put on a brown
shirt and kiss those happy little kiddies so-long.
DAVID 0. SELZNICK
Have any of you actually seen the movie?
DAVID 0. SELZNICK
I have. It's probably the greatest motion picture
ever made. Nothing's going to be the same after
this. With this one movie he's changed the way we
Who the fuck cares?
DAVID 0. SELZNICK
I do. And so should all of you--
Get off the soapbox--
DAVID 0. SELZNICK
I want no part of this. We should be marching into
George Schaefer's office and standing with him. He's
one of us!
DAVID 0. SELZNICK
If I ever got into trouble I'd like to think that
you all would be with me -- not planning to stab me
in the back like a bunch of ... a bunch of ...
He storms off
Your son-in-law meshuaena.
He's got me and Hoover?
Relax, Walt, at least he don't have you screwing
Snow White. I got fucking Errol Flynn on my payroll!
You're a smart man, L.B. I suspect you would not
have called us here without a plan. Give over.
We will buy the movie and we will destroy it.
We will assemble a fund between us -- privately,
'not studio money -- we will assemble this fund and
we will go to George Schaefer and we will buy the
negative and every print of CITIZEN KANE and we will
A long pause
If I do not hear an objection to this agenda in the
next five seconds I will assume the motion has
Five seconds tick by as we focus on the titans of Hollywood
Very well, my associates will be in touch to
arrange payment. Thank you for your time.
INT RECORDING STAGE DAY
KANE composer Bernard Hermann again stands before the orchestra, his
arm poised, waiting to begin conducting. He is about to record some new
music for the deep-focus Thatcher/Bernstein/Kane scene from CITIZEN
Welles sits nearby, supervising everything. Welles nods and on a movie
screen the scene from KANE begins and Hermann starts conducting. The
The music carries into and gradually fades during.
INT SAN SIMEON. ASSEMBLY ROOM DAY
In a scene eerily reminiscent of the Thatcher/Bernstein/Kane scene,
Marion sits in the extreme foreground, a man we do not know sits at
middle distance at a desk and Hearst stands far away.
Hearst has his back to them and stares out a window.
The new man is MR. LEWIS, a tight banker from New York, 50's.
He looks over a thick legal document on the desk as he speaks:
LEWIS You will retain some editorial control over the remaining
newspapers but the actual ownership will go to the Conservation
Committee and the banks. We will be immediately closing 12 of the
papers and the wire services. And we will be liquidating other assets
as soon as possible. Most of the land in Mexico as well as your
collection of art and antiquities--
Mr. Hearst spent his life collecting that art.
We've been in touch with Gimbels in New York and
they've agreed to hold a special sale. They're
giving over an entire floor for the merchandise.
You'll have to go there in person to sign the bill
of sale, by the way.
(softly, not turning)
I'll have to sell the animals.
And we don't know whether we'll be able to retain
the castle. The land has some capital and we might
keep it on as an investment. Maybe break it up into
smaller units for housing.
A long pause Hearst finally turns and walks to them.
When will it come out? When will the public know?
We can't keep it a secret, sir. Once we announce
the Gimbels sale and start liquidating the assets.
This is your whole life. Pops. Don't do it. We'll
find another way..
A long beat as he looks at her. Then he quickly signs the document on
the desk. He puts down the pen and leaves the room without a word
INT SAN SIMEON. STAIRWAY NIGHT
Marion sits nestled on a sweeping marble stairway Weeping
INT NIGHTCLUB. HOLLYWOOD NIGHT
A swank benefit dinner is in progress A band plays
A banner hangs over the nightclub stage: CHILDREN'S MILK FUND BENEFIT,
We float through the elegant crowd and spy Louis B. Mayer and Louella;
Clark Gable and Carole Lombard; all manner of movie stars and power
We also spy Schaefer sitting with Mank and Toland and a few other men
The evening's EMCEE takes the stage
Next up we have a real treat. It's Orson Welles.
Now, during the rehearsal for the benefit tonight
Orson banished everyone from the club so he could
proceed in utmost secrecy. But you all know how
Laughter from the crowd
So, lets give a big round of applause for Mr. Orson
Welles and Miss Rita Hayworth.
Polite applause as Welles bounds to the stage with RITA HAYWORTH and
the band begins to play a buoyant tune.
Schaefer practically drops his fork
Welles is dressed in a padded costume and made up in a way that can
suggest no one but William Randolph Hearst. Rita Hayworth is dressed in
a manner mightily like Marion Davies.
Louella glances to Mayer, daggers. Some knowing laughter from the
audience. Particularly Mank
A line of chorus girls hoof on and join Welles and Rita Hayworth as a
row of harsh footlights snap on, giving the scene a resemblance to the
"Charlie Kane" dance in CITIZEN KANE.
And Welles launches into a jaunty song and dance version of
"DISGUSTINGLY RICH" an almost unknown Rodgers and Hart song;'. Welles
has wickedly changed some of the lines. '
"I'll buy everything I wear at Saks. I'll print
gossip and I'll call it facts
"Swear like a trooper, Live in a stupor--
WELLES AND RITA HAYWORTH
"Just disgustingly rich!
"I'll make money and I'll make it quick, Starting
little wars I think are slick. Smother her in
sables, Like Betty Grable's-- Just disgustingly
rich. "I'll build a castle, That'll cost a passel.
And as a resident, I will pan the president I'll
aspire, Higher and Higher. "I'll get married and
I'll buy a girl, So darn pretty that your head will
"Swimming in highballs-- Stewed to the eyeballs--
WELLES AND RITA HAYWORTH
"Just disgustingly rich!
Welles, Rita Hayworth and the chorines do a nifty soft-shoe turn as
Schaefer turns to Mank:
He truly doesn't care if he ever works again.
Yeah, ain't it swell?
Welles and Rita Hayworth conclude their little dance break and Welles
resumes the song:
"Ev'ry summer I will sail the sea, On my little
yacht the Normandie, Pet my little dachshund
friends, Kiss Louella's big rear end, Just
About here Louella storms out.
"I'll eat salmon, I'll play backgammon. Turn breakfast into brunch,
I'll take Thomas Ince to lunch I'll aspire, Higher and Higher.
About here Louis B Mayer and a few others storm out.
"He'll be photographed with Myrna Loy, Just to
prove he is a glamour boy.
"Perfumed and scented, Slightly demented-- Just
"I'll get my capers, Into his papers. Hoping his
folly would Lead me out to Hollywood. I'll aspire,
Higher and higher.
About here Schaefer buries his face in his hands
WELLES AND RITA HAYWORTH
"In the funnies and the valentines, We'll be
pictured drinking Ballantine's. Dopey and screwy,
Voting for Dewey. Just disgustingly-- Too, too
disgustingly-- Riiiiich! "
Welles and Rita Hayworth conclude the number with a big flourish.
Mank stands and applauds loudly. Laughing. Welles bows solemnly to Mank
EXT NIGHTCLUB FOLLOWING
Later that night, Welles is about to climb into his limousine outside
the nightclub with Rita Hayworth when Schaefer suddenly appears and
grabs his lapel.
Without a word, Schaefer pulls Welles roughly into an alley beside the
nightclub. He slams Welles into the alley wall.
This isn' t some kinda fucking game! You know how
many people RKO employs?! You know how many people
depend on what we do for a living?!
I really think you're
You wanna commit suicide, fine! You got some death-
wish, fine! But you will not drag this company down
It was a -joke, George
Schaefer slaps Welles firmly across the face. Welles is stunned.
There are no jokes! There are people making a
living. There is food on the table!
Schaefer glares at him and then rages off
Welles straightens his suit and then, with a shaking hand, reaches for
a cigar. He tries to laugh, but cannot.
INT SCHAEFER'S OFFICE. RKO DAY
Schaefer sits at his desk, absolutely dazed. Speechless
B. Mayer sits across from him.
Where did this money come from?
800,000 dollars fully covers the production budget
and a little more. Hell, George, you even make a
profit on the deal.
And we gotta be clear here. I need the negative and
every existing print.
To do what?
That's for me to decide.
You're going to destroy it
No, maybe put it on the shelf until the old man
You're lying to me.
We already made the same offer to the stockholders.
Schaefer is stunned.
You talked to New York?
You talked to Mr. Swanbeck?
You're bettin' on an inside straight this time.
You'll never pull it off.
Mayer stands and smiles
This picture, George, it'll just break your heart.
Mayer goes. Schaefer sits, smelling defeat.
We linger on Schaefer as a haunting echo of "I CAN'T GET STARTED" is
heard. . .
INT/EXT SAN SIMEON NIGHT
We float through the estate as we hear the ghostly strains of Bunny
Berigan's recording of "I CAN'T GET STARTED."
It is a sad journey.
By this time many of the ornate antiquities have been removed from the
castle and it resembles Welles' stark and dreary Xanadu all the more.
"I've flown around the world in a plane, I've
settled revolutions in Spain, And the North Pole I
have charted, Still I can't get started with you...
We float past the private zoo, now empty, the cages hanging open. We
move past the tennis courts, empty.
"On the golf course I'm under par, Metro Goldwyn
has asked me to star, I've got a house, a show
place, Still I can't get no place with you.
We float into the castle itself and through the stripped- down
Screening Room and the Assembly Room and the Great Dining Hall.
All are mere shadows of their past glory.
"Cause you're so supreme, Lyrics I write of you, I
dream, dream day and night of you And I scheme just
for the sight of you, Baby, what good does it do...?
We finally float into the ballroom
A record of "I CAN'T GET STARTED" spins forlornly on a turntable.
And Marion and Hearst are having a quiet, poignant dance together in
the middle of the empty ballroom.
"I've been consulted by Franklin D. Greta Garbo has
had me to tea, Still I'm broken hearted Cause I
can't get started with you.
They finally stop dancing and stand swaying gently. Then they stop
Ah, Miss Davies, the times we have seen
She holds him closely as "I CAN'T GET STARTED" concludes
INT CHASEN'S RESTAURANT. PRIVATE ROOM DAY
Welles has booked a private room at Chasen's. A long banquet table
contains cans of sterno heating various dishes.
Large photographs of the American West and renderings from THE LIFE OF
CHRIST are scattered around other tables.
Welles wanders around the renderings with Gregg Toland and Mank. Welles
carries a plate of food and consumes as:
See, this is the Great Salt Lake -- we do the
Great scene where John the Baptist pulls your head
out of the water and says, "Look up, and behold your
Is that from one of the Gospels?
George! Enter And Behold
Schaefer blinks at the massive photos and renderings.
You're not still mad at me, I hope
No, we're jake. But listen-
Look, not a single scene shot in the studio! We've
found natural locations for the whole story--
Hold on a sec. I got news. We finally found
somewhere to premiere KANE but--
I told you! Where? Grauman's? El Capitan? Or did
Radio City come crawling back?
The Palace in New York. But Orson there's something
Welles stops eating
I think you better sit down
I don't want to sit
The bosses -- the other studios -- they want to buy
the film and destroy it.
They came to me with an offer. 800,000 for the
negative and all the prints.
And they went to the stockholders in New York.
I been talking to Swanbeck in New York and...
Orson, I think they're gonna take it A long pause as
Welles looks at Schaefer
Welles suddenly FLINGS his plate of food in Schaefer's direction as he
YOU STUPID, LITTLE MAN! HOW COULD YOU HAVE LET THIS
HAPPEN?! I GAVE YOU MY SOUL AND NOW YOU'RE GOING TO
This ain't George's doing--!
Welles- rampages around the room
I PUT MY LIFE INTO THAT PICTURE -- EVERYTHING I'VE
BEEN -- EVERYTHING I COULD BE---IT'S CITIZEN KANE! -
- IT'S ALL CITIZEN KANE!
And in a screaming, bellowing fury, Welles tears apart the room.
In a scene sharply reminiscent of Kane destroying Susan's bedroom,
Welles rampages around the room, upsetting tables and smashing
everything in reach.
Welles finally grabs a flaming can of sterno and flings it at Schaefer,
Schaefer knocks it away.
Then Welles stands in spent exhaustion, panting. One of his hands is
He looks at Schaefer. A pause. Then:
Let . . . me . . . talk to them. . .
New York ... The stockholders
Give me one chance. And then you will never have to see me again.
INT. GIMBELS NEW YORK DAY
The entire two-acre fifth floor of Gimbels is in chaos
A large banner is suspended at one end of the floor; "The Hearst
Collection." It is the first day of the sale and it is mobbed.
Hearst and Marion, alone in a crowd, walk wordlessly through the
Everywhere around them hundreds of eager customers strike like hawks,
snatching up useless junk and treasured antiques.
We see bits and pieces of San Simeon in the jumble
They pass a man and his wife, holding up Marion's -BLESS THIS CASTLE"
Old man Hearst owned this and I'm getting it for
two bits I
Hearst and Marion continue to walk, finally arriving at the section
containing the true, expensive treasures.
Hearst watches as customers pick up and fondle his life.
He glances at a framed front page of the San Francisco Examiner. The
date is March 4, 1887. In a large box on the page is: "IT IS THE ROLE
OF THE PRESS TO COMFORT THE AFFLICTED AND AFFLICT THE
WILLIAM RANDOLPH HEARST. PUBLISHER."
I can't sell this. How much are they asking?
Pops ... let it go. Just ... let it go
He looks at her. A long moment. He tenderly touches her face.
Yes, I think I shall.
He takes her hand and leads her away as we pull up and take in the
entire fifth floor.
It is a stunning KANE-like image of rows and rows of merchandise piled
high. Of junk and jewels. Of Charles Foster Kane and William Randolph
INT HOTEL ROOM. NEW YORK NIGHT
Welles sits brooding in his hotel room. His invincible energy appears
He is deep in thought, listlessly shuffling and reshuffling a deck of
cards in one hand.
He aimlessly shuffles through the cards and plucks one out.
Six of spades
He glances at the card. It is the nine of hearts.
He shuffles through the cards again and pulls out another card.
Six of spades
He looks at the card. It is the two of clubs.
His attention is now fully on the cards. He shuffles them dramatically
and snatches out a card. He looks at it and then tosses it away. He
shuffles again, working the trick, again it fails. He tosses another
card away. He continues, ;' more quickly, to attempt the trick. It
fails again. And ' again.
With a frightened moan Welles flings the entire deck away from him and
bolts out of the room...
EXT HOTEL ROOFTOP NIGHT
Welles emerges from a stairway on the roof of his hotel.
He marches to the edge of the roof and leans against a railing, gasping
Everywhere below him the shimmering lights of Manhattan twinkle and
flash; cabs and neon and noise. The night sky above him is filled with
He looks away from the city and up to the stars -- they captivate him
fully. He stares and stares at the impossible chaos of beautiful
A long moment as Welles gazes at the stars. The city below and the
noise seem to disappear and Welles stands, safe and at peace under the
silent dome of stars.
The stars are reflected in his huge, dark eyes
Magically, the stars in his eyes give way to the vague shapes of men
sitting around a table.
Welles looks at the men.
We pull back to see we are at
INT RKO BOARD ROOM. NEW YORK DAY
Welles stands at the head of a long conference table. Title: APRIL 6,
Around the table are gathered a group of stern businessmen Schaefer is
Welles looks at the men. And he speaks. For once, his usual
overwrought, theatrical tones are gone.
He speaks simply.
Today a man from Germany invaded Greece. He has
already swallowed Poland and Denmark and Norway and
Belgium. He is bombing London as I speak. Everywhere
this man goes he crushes the life and the freedom of
his subjects. He sews yellow stars onto their
lapels. He takes their voices.
In this country we still have our voices. And we can sing with them.
And we can argue with them. And we can be heard. Because we are . . .
for the moment . . . free. No one can tell us what to say or how to say
it, can they? We have no brown shirt thugs here ruling our lives, do
we? No one can take our voices, can they? Because we are free.
I am one voice and that is all. My picture is one voice. Men are dying
in Europe now -- and Americans soon will be -- so that we can surmount
the tyrants and the dictators. Will you send a message across this
country that one man can take away our voices?
So ... who is Mr. Hearst and who is Mr. Welles? Mr. Hearst built a
palace of brick and mortar and starting little wars and corpses piled
high. I built a palace of illusion. My castle Xanadu is a matte
painting and camera trick. It's nothing but . . . a dream.
Today you have a chance to let the dream triumph. For once.
He gazes at them and then slowly walks out of the room
INT LONG HALLWAY. NEW YORK DAY
Welles sits quietly on a bench in a long hallway in a tall building.
Schaefer emerges from an office and goes to him. He sits next to him.
We open on May 1st.
Welles slowly nods.
Orson, what you said in there. Did you mean it?
Welles looks at him.
Does it matter? They believed it
He stands and begins walking away.
Welles stops, not turning.
Yes. It matters.
Welles continues down the hall
INT HOTEL. NEW YORK NIGHT
Title: APRIL 30, 1941 Welles is rushing to catch an elevator as the
He nips in at the last minute and punches his button. He turns.
The elevator is deserted but for one other person: William Randolph
Welles and Hearst recognize each other instantly. As the elevator
ascends the two men look at each other.
A very long pause as we watch their faces -- the young man and the old
man -- both men of mad grandeur and malevolent passion and stunning
inspiration -- both men of incalculable achievement and measureless
Mr. Hearst, we've met once before, my name is Orson
Welles and I've got a movie opening tomorrow night
at the Palace. I would be pleased to get you
A pause as Hearst regards Welles.
Then Hearst carefully reaches over and presses the stop button on the
elevator. The elevator stops.
An exceedingly quiet exchange:
I wonder. Do you have any idea what you have done?
Intimately. For every sin you have placed on my
head I could give you a hundred others. I have been
swimming in blood my entire life. But I retain a
belief, perhaps you will think it old fashioned,
undoubtedly you will, but I believe that private
lives should not be public property.
Elegant words, sir, when you have made your name
and your fortune on slander and innuendo and gossip.
In your papers you taught the world how to look
under every rock. I learned at the knee of the
So where does that leave us, Mr. Welles? What kind
of sad future are we two making? A future where men
will do anything to sell their newspapers and their
movies? A future where no price is too high for fame
and power? When we will all scratch each other to
pieces just to be heard?
Can you truly envision such ... horror.
Hearst presses the stop button again and the elevator begins to move.
The doors opens on Hearst's floor and he leaves the elevator.
The doors are about to shut on Welles when he leans forward; and roars:
CHARLES FOSTER KANE WOULD HAVE ACCEPTED I
The doors shut on Welles and we remain with Hearst as he slowly walks
down the long hotel hallway.
He walks with dignity.
EXT PALACE THEATER. NEW YORK NIGHT
It is the premiere of CITIZEN KANE, at last.
The Palace Theater swarms with tuxedos and dress gowns as the elite of
New York and Hollywood descend from limousines and slowly parade into
the packed lobby.
On the Palace marquee "ORSON WELLES" is spelled out in enormous six
foot tall electric letters. Below that is "CITIZEN KANE" also in
electric letters. Above the marquee is a series of towering, flashing
neon Charles Foster Kanes and the words "IT'S TERRIFIC."
Title; MAY l, 1941
We float down and enter the crowded lobby with the patrons...
INT PALACE THEATER. LOBBY FOLLOWING
We swirl with the throng of patrons in the lobby as they file into the
theater and finally find Welles and Schaefer huddled together nervously
in a corner of the lobby.
They are studiously ignored and snubbed by all the movie people
They're cutting us dead, every goddamn one.
They are ignored by a few more people
It's my birthday this week. I'll be 26.
Mank fights through the crowd
Monstro! Ran into Walter Winchell outside He wants
to play Herod in the picture. Hiya, George.
(lighting a cigar)
So ain't this just the bee's knees? The high
muckey-mucks dolled up all Aztec-like for the human
You gonna watch?
Hell, I know how it ends.
(He calls to a passing stranger)
Hey, Rosebud's the sled!
Face it, Orson, they're gonna hate it. I told you,
not enough closeups and too many scenes with a bunch
of New York actors.
Oh God. . .
Relax, George. It's gonna go great. Trust me. Have
I ever lied to you?
Schaefer looks at him for a moment
You know something, Orson, you haven't done
anything but lie to me from the moment we met. But,
ya know, I'd do it again in a second.
It was fun, wasn't it?
It was the best, kid
So, on to the Life Of Christ!
Without me. I'm afraid. I got the axe this morning.
Forget it. Cause you know something..
When I'm an old coot playing dominoes down in Miami Beach fifty years
from now, I'll say, "Hey, you kids ever heard of a guy named Randolph
Hearst?" And they'll say, "Nope. Never heard of him." And then I'll
say, "Hey, you ever heard of a picture called CITIZEN KANE?" And they
will have. That's enough for me.
Pats Welles arm and goes into the theater
What have I done?
Aw, cheer up, George'll probably be running Fox by
the morning. Let's get a drink.
Mank pulls at Welles' arm.
But the picture...
Mank stops and looks at him deeply.
Kid, you know how it ends too. It ends sadly.
He pulls Welles away from the theater and down the street.
INT. PALACE THEATER - NIGHT
We watch the faces
In the flickering blue light we watch the audience as we hear Bernard
Hermann's evocative and haunting opening music to CITIZEN KANE.
We slowly move across a sea of faces as the music plays. For everyone,
especially the movie people, what they are seeing is a revelation and a
revolution. It is a whole new way of seeing the world.
We see their amazement as they are mesmerized -- and their confusion as
they are challenged.
And we see George Schaefer, quietly proud.
Bernard Hermann's opening music continues to play until we finally
And the world of movies is forever changed
INT DESERTED BAR. NEW YORK NIGHT
Welles and Mank are sitting in a rundown, deserted bar
You know, all this nightmare we went through with
Hearst. The whole thing... And in the end, probably
no one will ever remember the picture anyway.
Yeah, you're probably right.
A beat. Mank takes a drink.
I'll tell ya something, kid. When you make your
masterpiece at 26 it's a bitch. I mean. where do you
go from here?
A long pause
Then Welles speaks, softly.
Will burn. Burn up. Burn out. But oh, what a flame
He looks at Mank and toasts.
And Orson Welles smiles. Indomitable.
Writers : John Logan
Genres : Drama