For the longest time, Citizen Kane was regarded by many as the greatest film ever made and boasted a 100% “fresh” rating on review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes.
However, thanks to an 80-year-old newspaper clipping, the 1941 Orson Welles film has lost its perfect score, dipping down to 99%.
The review was discovered recently by Rotten Tomatoes as it carried out its Archival Project, designed to resurrect critics and publications of the past to add historical reviews to classic films.
The negative review in question was published in the Chicago Tribune in 1941 and features a headline that declares, “Citizen Kane Fails to Impress Critic as Greatest Ever Filmed.”
Available only as a newspaper clipping, the reviewer writes, “You’ve heard a lot about this picture and I see by the ads that some experts think it ‘the greatest movie ever made.
“I don’t. It’s interesting. It’s different. In fact, it’s bizarre enough to become a museum piece. But its sacrifice of simplicity to eccentricity robs it of distinction and general entertainment value.”
It wasn’t all negativity though, with the anonymous critic — who wrote under the clever pseudonym Mae Tinée — at least praising producer, director and co-screenwriter Welles for his performance in the lead role.
The film explores the story of newspaper mogul Charles Foster Kane — an intriguing and complex man whose dying word “rosebud” becomes the jumping-off point for a reporter who is assigned to find out exactly who Kane was, and what his final word meant.
The film served as the inspiration for the Oscar-winning film Mank, a biopic starring Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish Citizen Kane. Despite being nominated for 10 Oscars at the 93rd Academy Awards, the Netflix film only took home two — for Best Production Design and Best Cinematography.
For reference, Citizen Kane received nine Oscar nominations but only won one — with Welles and Mankiewicz scoring the nod for Best Original Screenplay.
Having lost its perfect 100% fresh rating, Citizen Kane now sits below films such as The Terminator, Toy Story, Paddington 2, Before Sunrise, Man on Wire, Frankenstein, The Grapes of Wrath, The Maltese Falcon and Battleship Potemkin.
According to Rotten Tomatoes, the first Citizen Kane reviews were added to the site in 2000 with the film enjoying a perfect run, unit now.