AFI Top 100 Movies #1: Citizen Kane or Citizen Lame?


My mom is a huge stickler about teaching my sister and I how to become more cultured. Last summer she had us learn all the different art periods and the top 100 paintings and artists. Having to learn this was a major bore and I threw a fit every time she called us into her room to learn more. She also had us read a huge book on mythology which I actually enjoyed because I loved learning about the different Greek gods and the stories associated with them all. This year my mom has decided to have us learn all the classical music periods. I have really enjoyed listening to all of the different styles of music but could pass up the music lectures any day! My mom also decided that she is going to have us watch the 100 greatest american films of all time. She wants my family to finish all 100 of them before I go off to college but at the rate we’re going at we’ll probably be done by the end of the summer. Ok, I’m exaggerating a bit.


The 100 greatest films of all time are movies that have been chosen by an American Film Institute’s panel which includes more than 1,500 leaders of the film industry. When I first heard about my mom telling me that she wanted to watch all 100 movies I was super excited because I don’t have to go through any boring lectures and I get to lay back and enjoy movies that have been picked by many actors and directors. My mom had me watch the movie that was rated number one on the list, Citizen Kane. I kid you not when I tell you that it was difficult for me not to daze off. It felt like the movie lasted forever and as if it was going nowhere! It took place in the 1940’s so the effects were pretty cheesy and I can’t stand cheesy effects. Plus the movie was in black and white and I like being able to see my movies with color. It adds more life to the movie and even personality. I do understand that this was a gigantic achievement for the film industry when it came out but I’m 14 and let’s face it, all the movies from my time are in color and with way cooler effects.

I didn’t like the movie but I do remember that afterwards my dad, sister, and I started making fun of it. In the beginning of the movie we get Citizen Kane’s last word which was “Rosebud”. We laughed because it was a really odd choice of words to say when you die and of course we couldn’t stop from thinking of a certain biological need (if you catch my drift). I also remember that after the movie ended my dad and I were so bored that we took a champagne bottle cork and his flip flops and started playing a ping pong like game that we called flip flop pong! Every time we hit the cork we got a point and the points where scored in “rosebuds”. I know, it is stupid but we needed some sort of exercise to wake up. 🙂


Citizen Kane (1941)


Of course as a little fashionista, I had to pay attention to the clothes that the girls were wearing which was pretty much the only fun I got out of the whole movie. There was not a lot of fashion as the movie concentrates mainly on the main character, Mr. Kane.  However, because Kane was pretty rich, he was able to buy his wives a lot of things. Some of the things they got were nice looking clothes and accessories for the era and I can always appreciate nice vintage pieces. In the first picture, his first wife Emily is wearing a dress where the sleeves come down to her shoulders with lace and flower details. The other two pictures are his second wife, Susan Kane. In the first picture Susan was wearing some sort of shawl with a fur detail  and a hat with waves in the front. The second picture shows her in a sheer shawl with crystal embellishments. This last outfit was my favorite outfit that came out of this movie because of how elegant it is.

And here I am as Mrs. Kane!

Citizen Kane First Wife[5]

Me as Mrs. Kane

6 thoughts on “AFI Top 100 Movies #1: Citizen Kane or Citizen Lame?

  1. This is SUCH a funny story! I can really see Mom pitching these “you are now cultured” arts lists. You’re handling the absurdity of the exercise really well. Keep it up. In another 20 years, it will all make great material for your own screenplays. The AFI Top 100 lists were made by, and mostly for, the taste preferences of rich white men over 50. That’s not saying they aren’t great, but the lists work better if they fit the intended audience more closely.

    Once your own experiences become varied enough to interact and intersect with great works of art or film, the meanings and depth and value of them will open up for you like magic. You simply won’t and CAN’T (shouldn’t really) “get it” at 14, unless you are an exceptionally weird 14 yr-old. You reacted in exactly the correct way to Citizen Kane. You noticed the dresses.

    If your mom likes exposing you to “best of” lists, how about “best movies of all time made for teen audiences” ? Here’s an example:

    • The reason I have accepted doing the lists is so that when I ask my mom to go places she will let me go lol. There are a few movies on the list that I really enjoy such as Titanic, Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, and most of all Toy Story (put Disney in there and I’m in). My dad pitched the idea of watching pop culture movies because we would enjoy those a lot more because the stories would be a lot more interesting. I was looking over the dates of the movies yesterday and I found a bunch of 1940’s movies which I’m going to hate sitting through.The only black and white movie I have ever enjoyed is To Kill A Mockingbird, and it’s on the 100 list so I get to watch it again. I even found a movie called Intolerance which was made in 1916 which I’m totally dreading on watching. That movie is probably going to put me to sleep. But I wont knock it till I try it.

      Also I am able to understand the movies pretty well. Having honors literature all my life has taught me to look at the symbolic objects and look for any foreshadowing and key events that not only help me read books and enjoy them a little more but I can watch movies and be able to understand them too. I understood a lot of the movies we have watched so far but the stories are kind of boring in my opinion. I liked your comment about the list being made for rich white men over 50, that made me chuckle to myself especially imagining a 50 year old man watching Snow White. I’ll make sure to take a look at the list you sent me because I’ll most likely enjoy those more then the one’s that were made almost 75 years ago or before that time. Thank you for commenting, much appreciated.

      • Oh yes, an old guy would definitely remember with affection seeing Snow White in theaters as a boy, since it was released in 1937, 1944, 1952, 1958, 1967, and 1975. In the days before home theater equipment and VHS, the only way to see famous beloved movies again was in theatrical re-release or on TV. I’m not quite old enough to have seen The Wizard of Oz (1939) in theaters, but I grew up seeing it over and over on TV in the 50s and 60s.

        I feel for you on Intolerance. It’s about 3 hours long (ay-yi-yi) and follows stories from different time periods. The Babylon story is entertaining, but most of the film is really over-acted by our standards, and gloppy sentimental. It cost the equivalent of a gazillion dollars in 1916 terms, and because it flopped, it killed the career of DW Griffith, the James Cameron of his time up to this picture. Many modern filmmakers have failed to heed the risks of mounting the “greatest (most expensive) production ever filmed”.

        The best thing to generally come out of silent movies were comedies, usually 10-30 minutes long. Shorts by Chaplin, Keaton, the Our Gang comedies, Harold Lloyd and others are much more watchable than full-length features. If you like special effects, check out Georges Melies, who invented most of them between 1895-1912. There’s a great modern fantasy adaptation (Hugo – 2011) using Melies as a character, featuring clips from a number of his early films.

        Your educational record and progress sounds terrific.

      • Thanks, you mentioning silent movies scared me a little bit since I’ve never really seen one. Fingers crossed that I’ll enjoy it. You seem to have a lot of knowledge about films and I really appreciate you taking the time to share your knowledge with me.

      • My pleasure. I worked in the technical areas of the movie biz for 23 years. You pick up a lot.

        Perhaps you can negotiate on the mechanics of how you view. My wife and I share a “15 minute rule”. If a movie doesn’t grab both of us within that time, we either agree to watch separately solo, or scroll past the boring bits.

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