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By Shane Hazen | September 4, 2001

It’s now popular consensus that as awe-inspiring a talent as Orson Welles was, Kane was still the collaborative creation of himself, Mankiewicz, Gregg Toland, and John Houseman (and Bernard Herrmann, Robert Wise to lesser extents)-with Welles pulling in the chief mæstro/author credit. Kæl wrote: ^ The director should be in control not because he is the sole creative intelligence but because only if he is in control can he liberate and utilize that talents of his co-workers who languish (as directors do) in studio-factory productions. The best interpretation to put on it when a director says that a movie is totally his is not that he did it all himself but that he wasn’t interfered with, that he made the choices and the ultimate decisions, that the whole thing isn’t an unhappy compromise for which no one is responsible; not that he was sole creator but almost the reverse-that he was free to use all the best ideas offered him…Citizen “Kane” is not a great work that suddenly bust out of a young prodigy’s head.
Kæl thought that “Kane” was “closer to comedy than to tragedy, though so overwrought in style as to be almost a Gothic comedy.” It was that comedic aspect-which for her, Kane represented the ægis of the ’30s Hollywood in its wit-that led her to assume that Mankiewicz had a more significant role in the writing, excluding Welles.
When The New Yorker published “Raising Kane” in 1971, Bogdanovich almost instantaneously rebutted Kæl, and Welles was so gravely hurt that he wrote her into his thinly veiled autobiographical (and unfinished and unreleased) film “The Other Side of the Wind.” (George Lucas later named General Kæl from “Willow” after her-presumably for her review of “Return of the Jedi”-which is odd considering that Kæl’s rant against movie merchandising hit the nail then, and is relatively commonplace now.) But as flawed as the essay was, it still was by no means petty, or horrendously researched. There were myriad tell-tale facts that Kæl used to back her assumptions, including the look-a-like frame from the Toland-shot “Mad Love” which shows a bald Peter Lorre looking very similar to Welles’ bald Kane, and a real-life retelling of how Mankiewicz lived the scene where Leland (Joseph Cotton) drunkenly slept on a typewriter while penning a venomous pan. But it was flawed: at one point, Kæl even copped-out by saying that she didn’t need to interview Welles, for she had a surplus of quotable quotes from him. Seeing as Welles was the fancy of the French and other European inclinations, he was often misquoted and mistranslated in interviews, nodding at whatever obscure reference the interviewer threw his way or falling asleep mid-interview. As much research as she had done, Kæl had to have known this.
But Kæl’s view of auteurism simply wasn’t the grand one-man-band that so many people had aggrandized Welles’ position to be. She rarely disliked Welles’ work: Kæl was one of the earlier supporters of both “Touch of Evil” and “Chimes at Midnight.” She readily thought that Welles was the most talented director with sound (which, for those keeping score, is one half of the film medium). The impression that Kæl had some petty, unprovoked ax to grind with Welles is completely unfounded, especially in “Raising Kane,” and is so apropos of the typical hatred and animosity all critics have to face when they have the audacity to go out on a limb.
Get the whole story in part four of SHE KEPT IT AMIDST THE MEDIOCRITY>>>

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