TCM host Ben Mankiewicz spoke with a small group of journalists ahead of the TCM Big Screen Classics screenings of Citizen Kane.
Mankiewicz’s grandfather, Herman, co-wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay with Welles. The TCM host certainly had no shortage of comments during the 40ish-minute roundtable on Monday. What I’m printing below is his answer to my question.
In November, fans can also bring home the film when The Criterion Collection releases Citizen Kane on on 4K UItra HD.
Hi, Ben, it’s good to talk with you again.
Ben Mankiewicz: Hi. Yeah, you, too.
This may be more of a hypothetical but if Citizen Kane were to be made for the first time today, how different would it be from the film that came out in theaters?
Ben Mankiewicz: I’m pretty sure it’d be in color. I don’t know. There would probably be—the Spanish-American War would probably be the event. The manipulated news event would be bigger than the personal story. In Kane, the biggest manipulated news event is the criticism of Susan Alexander Kane’s performance. How’s that handled? That’s what breaks up the friendship. It ultimately tells you fully sort of what kind of man Charles Foster Kane is or at least partly what kind of man he is. Nothing tells you completely. It’s complicated. I suspect it would be a little bit bigger. It would have a bigger worldview.
It depends on who made it as to what kind of movie it would be and not just the director but who financed it, where the pressures were–it wouldn’t be as good because it would be impossible. I’m not knocking modern movies. There are some great modern movies and they’ve made a lot of movies better. You’ve you got the [Casablanca] poster there behind you. Nobody’s making Citizen Kane better than Orson Welles. Nobody’s making Casablanca better than Michael Curtiz.
Ben Mankiewicz: Sure.