Charles Foster Kane Is Coming To Blu-ray

Orson Welles' masterpiece hits high-def September 13.

By , Columnist

If you're a classic movie fan, you've had to be extremely patient for some of your favorites to reach Blu-ray. Fortunately, the studios are finally beginning to catch up. This fall, Warner Bros. will release one of its biggest titles, Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, in a massive 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition.

The first disc features a newly remastered transfer of the film and all of the extras from the previously released DVD edition. These include two audio commentaries (one by critic Roger Ebert and another by filmmaker Peter Bogdanovich), vintage featurettes from the film's world premiere, interviews with actress Ruth Warrick and editor Robert Wise, deleted scenes, a gallery of still photos with commentary by Ebert, additional galleries of storyboards, call sheets, and promotional material, and the film's legendary theatrical trailer.

The second disc (which is a DVD, not Blu-ray) includes the Oscar-nominated feature-length documentary, The Battle Over Citizen Kane. The film follows the parallel lives of Welles and newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst, the man Welles based the character of Charles Foster Kane upon, much to Hearst's displeasure. It's a remarkable story, vividly told in this fascinating film.

Disc three (also DVD) features the Emmy-nominated HBO film RKO 281 starring Liev Schreiber as Welles and James Cromwell as Hearst. I'm pleasantly surprised this has been included. It covers essentially the same ground as the documentary and isn't quite as successful but it makes for an interesting comparison. The cast also includes John Malkovich, Melanie Griffith, Brenda Blethyn, and Roy Scheider.

Rounding out the package, you'll also receive quite a bit of print material including a 48-page book and a 20-page reproduction of the original souvenir program. There are also collector's cards featuring reproductions of lobby card art, production memos, and other correspondence.

All of this makes for a phenomenal package but if you order it through Amazon, it gets even better. Amazon exclusively has an additional bonus DVD of Welles' 1942 follow-up The Magnificent Ambersons, never before available on DVD in the US. I've already heard some online grousing that Ambersons isn't being released on Blu-ray, which seems the very definition of looking a gift horse in the mouth. This is one of the most frequently requested titles on DVD and any release should be welcomed. The disc will also be made available through other retailers at a later, as yet unspecified date.

Citizen Kane: 70th Anniversary Ultimate Collector's Edition arrives September 13 from Warner Home Video.

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Adam Jahnke has been writing about film since age 13, when he began foisting a self-published newsletter on friends and family (copies of which are now mercifully lost to the ages). In 2000, he joined the staff of the highly respected DVD website The Digital Bits, where he continues to serve as columnist…

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