'Citizen Kane' Orson Welles' Oscar for Sale + 'The Orphanage' Is Spanish Blockbuster

Citizen Kane Orson WellesCitizen Kane with Orson Welles: Oscar for sale.

'Citizen Kane' Academy Award auction: Orson Welles' Oscar for Best Original Screenplay to be sold

Orson Welles' Academy Award for Citizen Kane, considered by some The Greatest Story Ever Told on Film, is set to be auctioned by its current owner, the Los Angeles-based charity Dax Foundation, next December 2007. Welles and Herman J. Mankiewicz shared the 1941 Best Original Screenplay Oscar, Citizen Kane's only win out of nine nominations, including Best Picture (produced by Orson Welles), Best Director (also Welles), and Best Actor (Welles once again). (Image: Orson Welles in Citizen Kane.)

The Academy frowns upon the buying and selling of Oscar statuettes, but it can't prevent this particular sale. Only post-1950 Oscar winners are contractually obligated not to sell their trophies.

Orson Welles' Citizen Kane Oscar – the only competitive one the actor-producer-director-screenwriter ever won – is estimated to fetch between $800,000 and $1.2 million. (Welles was handed an Honorary Oscar at the 1971 ceremony. More on the convoluted history of Orson Welles' Citizen Kane Oscar.)

'Citizen Kane' screenplay

Inspired by the life of William Randolph Hearst (and, clearly, by Preston Sturges' screenplay for William K. Howard's 1933 drama The Power and the Glory), Citizen Kane tells the story of a greedy, megalomaniac tycoon who discovers that money doesn't bring happiness and that untalented mistresses shouldn't be pushed into opera stardom. (Hearst's real-life mistress, however, was quite talented. Marion Davies was an outstanding film comedienne, as can be attested by her work in, among others, Show People, The Cardboard Lover, The Fair Co-Ed, and The Patsy.)

For the record, Citizen Kane lost the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards to John Ford's family drama How Green Was My Valley. The 1941 Best Actor Oscar went to Gary Cooper for his performance in the title role in Howard Hawks' flag-waving war comedy-drama Sergeant York.

'Citizen Kane' cast

Besides Orson Welles, Citizen Kane also features Dorothy Comingore (in the un-Marion Davies role), Agnes Moorehead, Ruth Warrick, Joseph Cotten, Ray Collins, Everett Sloane, William Alland, George Coulouris, Paul Stewart, Fortunio Bonanova, Philip Van Zandt, and, in a bit part, future Paramount superstar Alan Ladd.

Orson Welles Citizen Kane photo: RKO Pictures.

'The Orphanage' 2007 movie box office: Reportedly second best ever opening for a Spanish film

Juan Antonio Bayona's psychological thriller The Orphanage grossed €5.8 million (US$8.3 million) at the Spanish box office in its first four days out, October 11-14, 2007. According to Variety, that's the second best opening ever for a Spanish film – behind only Santiago Segura's Torrente 3: El protector, which collected US$10.2 million on its first weekend out in September 2005.

The Orphanage, which was much talked about at this year's Cannes Film Festival, tells the story of a woman (Belén Rueda) who moves into an old mansion that used to be the orphanage where she grew up. Shortly thereafter, her young son starts talking about his cool playmates, who just happen to be invisible.

'The Orphanage' movie cast

In addition to Belén Rueda, The Orphanage features Fernando Cayo, Roger Príncep (as the boy), Mabel Rivera, Montserrat Carulla, Andrés Gertrúdix, Edgar Vivar, and veteran Geraldine Chaplin (Doctor Zhivago, Cria Cuervos). Curiously, both Belén Rueda and Mabel Rivera were featured in Alejandro Amenábar's international hit and Best Foreign Language Film Oscar winner The Sea Inside; Rueda was excellent as the attorney suffering from a progressively debilitating disease, while the equally outstanding Rivera played tetraplegic Javier Bardem's sister-in-law.

Besides marking director Juan Antonio Bayona's feature-film debut, The Orphanage is also the first feature effort by screenwriter Sergio G. Sánchez. Guillermo del Toro, who's quite familiar with those sorts of fantastic tales – see the Spanish Civil War-set dark fantasy Pan's Labyrinth and the Spanish Civil War-set horror drama The Devil's Backbone – is one of the film's producers.

'The Orphanage' U.S. release date

The Orphanage is Spain's entry for the 2008 Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award. In the U.S., the film will open in limited release via Picturehouse on December 28, 2007.

Belén Rueda The Orphanage movie photo: Picturehouse.

The Trouble with Harry: Chicago Critics' 100 Scariest Films

In Broadcastellan, Harry Heuser (mildly) demonizes the Chicago Film Critics Association's list of 100 scariest films:

“Inexplicably, though, my personal favorite did not make the bloody cut. It is Jacques Tourneur's Night of the Demon (1957), based on “Casting the Runes,” a short story by the aforementioned ghost storyteller M. R. James. [Adapted by Charles Bennett and Hal E. Chester.] On US radio the story was dramatized under its original title on the literary thriller series Escape. When it was shown on BBC 2 TV here in Britain a few nights ago, I seized the opportunity to go once more into that not so gentle Night. Much to my relief, I had not yet become immune to its powers.

“Once again, I was startled by that hand on the banister; once again, my skin showed pimply evidence of the film's workings upon my imagination.”

I can't remember any hands on a banister – perhaps I had my eyes closed at that point – but I do recall a mad doctor, a floating bright light that turns into something deadly, and former Fox leading man Dana Andrews looking puzzled at all the weird happenings. (In the above photo, Andrews discovers that seeing the light isn't always such a good thing.)

And, of course, I do recall quite vividly that final monstrous apparition that totally freaked me out.

In sum, I fully agree with Harry that Night of the Demon is a first-rate, spooky-as-hell horror film. One that most of the Chicago film critics have probably never even heard of.

Also in the Night of the Demon cast: Peggy Cummins, Niall MacGinnis, Maurice Denham, and veteran Athene Seyler. Additional great work by cinematographer Ted Scaife and editor Michael Gordon.

Right: The face that launched a thousand nightmares. (I wish I were kidding.) In the US, the film was renamed Curse of the Demon.

Here's the Chicago critics' 100 Scariest Films list from last year.

And here's a very detailed analysis of Night of the Demon and other Jacques Tourneur films, including the horror flicks Cat People (1942) and I Walked with a Zombie (1943), and the thriller The Fearmakers (1958).

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{ 2 Comments }

  1. Andre says:

    Hey, Harry,

    Ah, yes, those pesky "coincidences." But then again, Marlene Dietrich is well known for never letting a guy go…

  2. Harry Heuser says:

    Well, those lists are designed to get us talking, even if we choose to ignore the organizations that produce them in an attempt at self-promotion. I'm glad, but not surprised, that you agree on Demon.

    As pragmatic as I try to be, I do get spooked by what no-nonsense guys like Dana Andrews' Dr. Holden set out to explain or, failing, brush aside as conincidences. Last night, having just written a trifle about Dietrich's promotional efforts on the radio, I popped in a random DVD from a bargain basement 100 Thrillers collection, a film called Jigsaw, and who flits by without saying a word but Dietrich (in an uncredited cameo). That dame wasn't done with me yet.