Citizen Kane was 100% on rotten tomatoes. Now it’s only 99%.
How do you judge a perfect film? I think a lot of this is subjective, but it helps when reviewers support your reasoning. Rotten Tomatoes is one of the sites I love to visit after looking at something to see if the some of the reviewers agree with what I was feeling. I’ll even visit it on a couple of weekends to see if what’s opening in theaters is supposed to be good too.
There are quite a few films there, including some of the most famous and popular of all time. You can sort by top rated titles and see that there are a handful of titles that are 100% perfect, which means everyone loved them.
But now one of the most famous titles is no longer considered “perfect”.
Sometime earlier this year, Rotten Tomatoes ran an 80 year old review of Citizen Kane that dropped it from 100% to 99%. I know what you’re thinking-Armond White wasn’t about 80 years ago, was it?
The title of the review is “Citizen Kane fails to impress critics as the greatest ever filmed” and it was written by Mae Tinée in the Chicago Tribune. Her name is certainly an ode to “matinee” and was a popular nom-de-plume of critics who did not want to reveal their identity. Her review impaled the movie, saying: “It’s interesting. It’s different.”
It continues, “In fact, it is bizarre enough to become a museum piece. But its sacrifice of simplicity to eccentricity robs it of distinction and general entertainment value.”
While I doubt the review will change the way we see the film in history, it’s fun to hear critics from a different age. It’s a great way to remind yourself that we work in a subjective medium and that our art doesn’t have to please everyone. Even the best-known titles have people who hate them.
Just draw from what you want to say and make sure the movie you want to see comes on screen.
You can’t make everyone happy – but hey, either Citizen Kane.