On January 3, Wellles and RKO screened a rough cut of Citizen Kane for national magazine reviewers with early deadlines. When Hedda Hopper complained that Welles had promised to show her the film before anyone else saw it, he arranged a seperate screening for her.
"Only six people sat in a private projection room when the finished product was first unveiled," Hopper recalled in her autobiography. "I was appalled. the film was too well done...."
"Early next morning Orson was on the phone demanding ’Well what do you think?’
"You won’t get away with it I assured him."
The Chief: The Life of William Randolph Hearst by David Nasaw page 567
...private screening for the editors of Life, Look, and Redbook... was to be secret but Hollywood Reporter broke the news..
Telegram from Welles to Hopper "...come tonight if you must but it stinks. Many key shots are missing... and we need music like Britain needs planes. Love, Orson"
The First Lady of Hollywood: A Biography of Louella Parsons By Samantha Barbas page 222
Welles was there according to the script of RKO 281 but maybe for dramatic effect.
(The irony here of relying on a film about a film about Hearst that also had lots of dramatic effect.)
RKO 281 (1999)
by John Logan
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!
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.
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.
The Battle Over "Citizen Kane"
NARRATOR: Louella was feared by everyone in Hollywood, but her number-one enemy was her younger and smarter rival, Hedda Hopper. It was Hedda who saw a tiny notice in The Hollywood Reporter--a screening of the unfinished Citizen Kane, January 3, 1941. When the film ended, Hedda rushed the news directly to San Simeon, and that sent Louella Parsons into a frenzy.
Written by RICHARD BEN CRAMER & THOMAS LENNON
· 9 years ago