Special Report

'Citizen Kane' Is the Best Movie Directed by an Actor of All Time

Actors are actors, and directors are directors. In Hollywood, this is almost always the case. The only notable example of a living actor who has also made his mark as a director is Clint Eastwood. The films which he both directed and starred in include the Oscar-winning “The Unforgiven” and “Million Dollar Baby”. Eastwood may be the best example of the actor/director in the present day. (As both an actor and director, see Clint Eastwood’s movies ranked worst to best.)

However, “Citizen Kane”, directed by Orson Welles, is at the top of most lists of the greatest films of all time. Welles played the title role in the movie, released in 1941, even though he was only 25. (Here’s a long list of the best movies directed by actors.)

Welles made a number of other movies that are among the greatest films ever made. These include “The Third Man” (1949) which is on the American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Films of All Time – a list “Citizen Kane” has topped for most of the last several decades. He also wrote and directed “The Lady from Shanghai” (1947) and “Touch of Evil” (1958), both of which are widely regarded as excellent.

No matter what Welles did over the balance of his career, “Citizen Kane” was his masterpiece. The lead character Charles Foster Kane is based to a large extent on the most powerful newspaper publisher of the mid-20th century – William Randolf Hearst. Hearst was unhappy about the movie, tried to stop its release, and refused any mention of it in his newspapers.

The acclaim for “Citizen Kane” began when it was released. It was nominated for nine Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actor, but won only for Best Original Screenplay (with Welles sharing credit with Herman J. Mankiewicz). Unfortunately for Welles, “Citizen Kane” lost money when it was released. (These are the 25 great directors with the most box office bombs.)

Click here for all of the best movies directed by actors

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