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United States: Essays 1952-1992 - "Remembering Orson Welles" (1989) Summary & Analysis

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Rosebud was what William Randolph Hearst called his friend Marion Davies' clitoris. Perhaps only by reading this essay in which Vidal recalls Orson Welles, who used the name Rosebud as a pivotal image in his film Citizen Kane, would the reader come to learn this bit of film arcana. The essay is more a personal recollection of the legendary filmmaker, actor and director than an academic expostulation of a theme, but the reader is grateful for Vidal's first-hand account of the corpulent, irrepressible Welles in later life—a man of big ideas, big cigars, big movies and never enough cash to carry out all his projects.

Starting with the Mercury Theater of radio where Welles staged a frighteningly realistic invasion from Mars, Vidal briefly traces his friend's ascent into Hollywood. After making several films such as...

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