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Following the death of a publishing tycoon, news reporters scramble to discover the meaning of his final utterance.
Mr. Bernstein: A fellow will remember a lot of things you wouldn't think he'd remember. You take me. One day, back in 1896, I was crossing over to Jersey on the ferry, and as we pulled out, there was another ferry pulling in, and on it there was a girl waiting to get off. A white dress she had on. She was carrying a white parasol. I only saw her for one second. She didn't see me at all, but I'll bet a month hasn't gone by since that I haven't thought of that girl.
[first lines] Charles Foster Kane: Rosebud...
Charles Foster Kane: You know, Mr. Bernstein, if I hadn't been very rich, I might have been a really great man. Walter Parks Thatcher: Don't you think you are? Charles Foster Kane: I think I did pretty well under the circumstances. Walter Parks Thatcher: What would you like to have been? Charles Foster Kane: Everything you hate.
Mr. Bernstein: Old age. It's the only disease, Mr. Thompson, that you don't look forward to being cured of.
Charles Foster Kane: I don't think there's one word that can describe a man's life.
Charles Foster Kane: You're right, I did lose a million dollars last year. I expect to lose a million dollars this year. I expect to lose a million dollars *next* year. You know, Mr. Thatcher, at the rate of a million dollars a year, I'll have to close this place in... 60 years.
Female reporter: If you could've found out what Rosebud meant, I bet that would've explained everything. Jerry Thompson: No, I don't think so; no. Mr. Kane was a man who got everything he wanted and then lost it. Maybe Rosebud was something he couldn't get, or something he lost. Anyway, it wouldn't have explained anything... I don't think any word can explain a man's life. No, I guess Rosebud is just a... piece in a jigsaw puzzle... a missing piece.
Susan Alexander Kane: I don't know many people. Charles Foster Kane: I know too many people. I guess we're both lonely.
Jedediah Leland: I can remember everything. That's my curse, young man. It's the greatest curse that's ever been inflicted on the human race: memory.
Mr. Bernstein: There's a lot of statues in Europe you haven't bought yet. Charles Foster Kane: You can't blame me. They've been making statues for some two thousand years, and I've only been collecting for five.
Charles Foster Kane: I always gagged on the silver spoon.
Rawlson: It isn't enough to tell us what a man did. You've got to tell us who he was.
Jerry Thompson: He made an awful lot of money. Mr. Bernstein: Well, it's no trick to make a lot of money... if what you want to do is make a lot of money.
Emily Monroe Norton Kane: Really Charles, people will think-... Charles Foster Kane: -what I tell them to think.
Jedediah Leland: That's all he ever wanted out of life... was love. That's the tragedy of Charles Foster Kane. You see, he just didn't have any to give.
[On Kane finishing Leland's bad review of Susan's opera singing] Mr. Bernstein: Everybody knows that story, Mr. Leland. But why did he do it? How could a man write a notice like that? Jedediah Leland: You just don't know Charlie. He thought that by finishing that notice he could show me he was an honest man. He was always trying to prove something. The whole thing about Susie being an opera singer, that was trying to prove something. You know what the headline was the day before the election, "Candidate Kane found in love nest with quote, singer, unquote." He was gonna take the quotes off the singer.
Emily Monroe Norton Kane: He happens to be the president, Charles, not you. Charles Foster Kane: That's a mistake that will be corrected one of these days.
Jedediah Leland: You don't care about anything except you. You just want to persuade people that you love 'em so much that they ought to love you back. Only you want love on your own terms. Something to be played your way, according to your rules.
Charles Foster Kane: Don't believe everything you hear on the radio.
[Susan is leaving Kane] Charles Foster Kane: [pleading] Don't go, Susan. You mustn't go. You can't do this to me. Susan Alexander Kane: I see. So it's YOU who this is being done to. It's not me at all. Not how I feel. Not what it means to me. [laughs] Susan Alexander Kane: I can't do this to you? [odd smile] Susan Alexander Kane: Oh, yes I can.
Boss Jim Gettys: You're the greatest fool I've ever known, Kane. If it was anybody else, I'd say what's going to happen to you would be a lesson to you. Only you're going to need more than one lesson. And you're going to get more than one lesson.
Walter Parks Thatcher: You're too old to be calling me Mr. Thatcher, Charles. Charles Foster Kane: You're too old to be called anything else.
Charles Foster Kane: [His answer to being blackmailed] There's only one person in the world who's going to decide what I'm going to do and that's me...
Charles Foster Kane: You can't buy a bag of peanuts in this town without someone writing a song about you.
Charles Foster Kane: Read the cable. Mr. Bernstein: "Girls delightful in Cuba. Stop. Could send you prose poems about scenery, but don't feel right spending your money. Stop. There is no war in Cuba, signed Wheeler." Any answer? Charles Foster Kane: Yes. "Dear Wheeler: you provide the prose poems. I'll provide the war."
Charles Foster Kane: Don't worry about me, Gettys! Don't worry about me! I'm Charles Foster Kane! I'm no cheap, crooked politician, trying to save himself from the consequences of his crimes! [screams louder] Charles Foster Kane: Gettys! I'm going to send you to Sing Sing! Sing Sing, Gettys! Sing Sing!
Charles Foster Kane: This gentleman was saying... Boss Jim Gettys: I am not a gentleman. I don't even know what a gentleman is.
Charles Foster Kane: [to Thatcher] The trouble is, you don't realize you're talking to two people. As Charles Foster Kane, who has 82,634 shares of Public Transit Preferred. You see, I do have a general idea of my holdings. I sympathize with you. Charles Foster Kane is a scoundrel. His paper should be run out of town. A committee should be formed to boycott him. You may, if you can form such a committee, put me down for a contribution of $1,000 dollars. On the other hand, I am the publisher of the Inquirer! As such, it's my duty - and I'll let you in on a little secret, it's also my pleasure - to see to it that decent, hard-working people in this community aren't robbed blind by a pack of money-mad pirates just because - they haven't anybody to look after their interests.
Charles Foster Kane: Mr. Carter, here's a three-column headline in the Chronicle. Why hasn't the Inquirer a three-column headline? Herbert Carter: The news wasn't big enough. Charles Foster Kane: Mr. Carter, if the headline is big enough, it makes the news big enough. Mr. Bernstein: That's right, Mr. Kane.
Mr. Bernstein: Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Cornell, Switzerland... he was thrown out of a lot of colleges.
Charles Foster Kane: We have no secrets from our readers. Mr. Thatcher is one of our most devoted readers, Mr. Bernstein. He knows what's wrong with every issue since I've taken charge.
[last lines] Raymond: Throw that junk in.
Mr. Bernstein: President's niece, huh? Before Mr. Kane's through with her, she'll be a president's wife.
Charles Foster Kane: I don't know how to run a newspaper, Mr. Thatcher; I just try everything I can think of.
Mr. Bernstein: Who's the busiest man? Me? I've got nothing but time! What do you wanna know?
Charles Foster Kane: Hello, Jedediah. Jedediah Leland: Hello, Charlie. I didn't know we were speaking... Charles Foster Kane: Sure, we're speaking, Jedediah: you're fired.
Reporter: Mr. Kane, how did you find business conditions in Europe? Charles Foster Kane: How did I find business conditions in Europe? With great difficulty.
Walter Parks Thatcher: [Quoting from Kane's letter] I think it would be fun to run a newspaper.
Charles Foster Kane: Are we going to declare war on Spain, or are we not? Jedediah Leland: The Inquirer already has. Charles Foster Kane: [jokingly] You long-faced, overdressed anarchist! Jedediah Leland: I am NOT overdressed! Charles Foster Kane: You are too! Mr. Bernstein, look at his necktie!
Charles Foster Kane: The news goes on for 24 hours a day.
Jedediah Leland: You still eating? Charles Foster Kane: I'm still hungry.
Matiste: [to Susan] Some people can sing, some people cannot. Impossible! Impossible!
Susan Alexander Kane: Forty-nine thousand acres of nothing but scenery and statues. I'm lonesome.
Mr. Bernstein: Isn't it wonderful? Such a party. Jedediah Leland: Yeah Mr. Bernstein: What's the matter? Jedediah Leland: Bernstein, these men who are now with the Inquirer, who were with the Chronicle until yesterday... [... ] Jedediah Leland: Bernstein, Bernstein, these men who were with the Chronicle, weren't they just as devoted to the Chronicle policies as they are now to our policies? Mr. Bernstein: Sure they are just like anybody else. They got work to do, they do it. Only they happen to be the best men in the business. Jedediah Leland: Do we stand for the same things the Chronicle stands for, Mr. Bernstein? Mr. Bernstein: Certainly not. Listen, Mr. Kane will change them to his kind of newspapermen in a week. Jedediah Leland: There's always a chance, of course, that they will change Mr. Kane without his knowing it.
Jedediah Leland: I suppose he had a private sort of greatness, but he kept it to himself.
Kane's Father: A good whuppin's all the kid really needs. Mary Kane: That's why I'm sending him where you can't get at him.
Jedediah Leland: [about Kane's "Declaration of Principles"] I'd like to keep that particular piece of paper myself. I have a hunch it might turn out to be something pretty important. A document... Mr. Bernstein: Sure! Jedediah Leland: ...like the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and my first report card at school.
Jedediah Leland: Bernstein, am I a stuffed shirt? Am I a horse-faced hypocrite? Am I a New England school marm? Mr. Bernstein: Yes. If you thought I'd answer you any differently than what Mr. Kane tells you...
Reporter 1: What's that? Reporter 2: Another Venus. Reporter 1: Twenty-five thousand bucks. That's a lot of money to pay for a dame without a head.
Kane, age eight: [talking about snowman] Maybe I'll make some teeth and whiskers...
Mr. Bernstein: Sentimental fellow, aren't you? Raymond: Hmmm... yes and no.
Charles Foster Kane III: Mother, is Pop governor yet? Emily Monroe Norton Kane: Not yet, Junior.
Charles Foster Kane: A toast, Jedediah: to Love on my own terms.
Stagecoach Driver / Hauler: There ain't no bedrooms in this joint, that's a newspaper building! Mr. Bernstein: You're getting paid, Mister, for opinions or for hauling?
Charles Foster Kane: I run a couple of newspapers. What do you do?
Susan Alexander Kane: Love! You don't love anybody! Me or anybody else! You want to be loved - that's all you want! I'm Charles Foster Kane. Whatever you want - just name it and it's yours! Only love me! Don't expect me to love you!
Reporter: [at beginning of news reel on Charles Foster Kane's death] In Xanadu did Kubla Khan a stately pleasure-dome decree.
Mr. Bernstein: We never lost as much as we made.
Mr. Bernstein: [to Leland] Mr. Kane is finishing the review you started - he's writing a bad notice. I guess that'll show you.
Charles Foster Kane: As Charles Foster Kane who owns eighty-two thousand, six hundred and thirty-four shares of public transit - you see, I do have a general idea of my holdings - I sympathize with you. Charles Foster Kane is a scoundrel. His paper should be run out of town. A committee should be formed to boycott him. You may, if you can form such a committee, put me down for a contribution of one thousand dollars.