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‘Citizen Kane’ Is No ‘Paddington 2,’ Says Rotten Tomatoes

There is perfect. And then there is almost perfect.

And as anyone who’s ever gotten a 99 percent on a test can tell you, the two are not the same thing.

“Citizen Kane,” the 1941 Orson Welles classic about the rise and fall of the publishing magnate Charles Foster Kane, long had a perfect critics’ score on the film website Rotten Tomatoes, which had aggregated 115 reviews. Until last month.

That is when a rediscovered write-up by a critic who died decades ago played spoiler.

The 80-year-old, less-than-effusive review, headlined “Citizen Kane Fails to Impress Critic as Greatest Ever Filmed,” resurfaced last month as part of a new archival project at Rotten Tomatoes. The review, which ran in The Chicago Tribune in 1941 and was quietly added to the “Citizen Kane” page on Rotten Tomatoes in March, brought the classic film, which is regularly placed atop lists of greatest American films, down a peg or two.

“You’ve heard a lot about this picture and I see by the ads that some experts think it ‘the greatest movie ever made,’” the critic, whose punny pseudonymous byline was Mae Tinee, wrote. “I don’t.”

The problem? It was a little too fresh, apparently.

“It’s interesting,” the reviewer wrote. “It’s different. In fact, it’s bizarre enough to become a museum piece. But its sacrifice of simplicity to eccentricity robs it of distinction and general entertainment value.”


With the inclusion of her dissenting opinion, the film is now rated only 99 percent “Fresh” on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer.

This means that, according to the review site, there are now 63 films with at least 40 reviews that are now more universally admired by critics than “Citizen Kane.” The site’s “100% Club” includes some predictable classics (“Modern Times,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” “The Maltese Falcon”) and some less predictable recent films (the first two “Toy Story” movies).

Read entire article at New York Times