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Citizen Kane comes in from the cold: showing at Hearst Castle, 71 years on

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By Noel Young, Correspondent

January 26, 2012 | 3 min read

It wasn't that press tycoon William Randolph Hearst didn't like the 1941 film Citizen Kane - which many people believed was supposed to be him. He hated it, although he never saw it.

Ctizen Kane for Hearst Castle

He kept ads for the film out of his many newspapers. Just before its release, one ally in Hollywood tried to buy the footage to burn it, says the Los Angeles Times.

Another approached FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover, who launched a decade-long investigation of Orson Welles, the film's 26-year-old director, producer, co-writer and star.

But things change or, as the Times says, "Rosebuds bloom in unlikely places."

Seventy-one years on, "Citizen Kane" will be shown at the tycoon's old home Hearst Castle in California - with the blessings of the Hearst family.

The March 9 screening on the five-storey-tall screen at the Hearst Castle Theater is part of the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival.

Wendy Eidson, the festival's director, said the film probably has never been seen on Hearst's sprawling estate.

"I tossed out the idea of screening 'Citizen Kane' there as a joke, and they didn't laugh," Eidson told the Times . "I was sort of floored."

Steve Hearst, Hearst's great-grandson, told the LA Times the event will present the film as a work of fiction rather than as a documentary about the life of Hearst.

"It's a great opportunity to draw a clear distinction between W.R. and Orson Welles, between the medieval, gloomy-looking castle shown in 'Citizen Kane' and the light, beautiful, architecturally superior reality," he said.

"Citizen Kane" is the unflattering portrait of a character resembling Hearst, a sensationalistic newspaper tycoon with political ambitions, a young mistress in show business, a jaw-dropping mansion and an insatiable zeal for collecting art."

Steve Hearst, who manages the family'sbusiness interests, added, "The character Orson Welles depicted was quite a bit more flamboyant and outgoing than W.R. was. He wasn't the kind of guy who would be dancing in the editorial room with his staffers."

In the film, Charles Foster Kane dies alone in his castle, a pathetic old man. When Hearst died in 1951, he was surrounded by family at his Beverly Hills mansion .

The Tims recounts how Welles in an interview in 1969 told how he bumped into Hearst in a lift at the Fairmont Hotel the night the film opened in San Francisco.

"He and my father had been chums, so I introduced myself and asked if he'd like to come to the opening of the picture," Welles recalled.

The reception was chilly. "He didn't answer," said Welles, who took full advantage of the moment.

"As he was getting off at his floor, I said, "Charles Foster Kane would have accepted.' "

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