Ben Mankiewicz talks Citizen Kane

TCM host Benjamin Mankiewicz photographed on Monday, August 23, 2021 in Atlanta, GA. Courtesy of TCM.

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.

Citizen Kane

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.

Thank you.

Ben Mankiewicz: Sure.

The TCM Big Screen Classics 80th anniversary screenings of Citizen Kane take place on September 19 and 22, 2021.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.