Nisha Rathode (Editor)

RKO 281

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
7.2/101 Votes Alchetron
1 Ratings
Rate This

Rate This

Director  Benjamin Ross
Initial DVD release  April 25, 2000
Language  English
7/10 IMDb

Genre  Biography, Drama
Budget  12 million USD
Country  United States
RKO 281 movie poster
Release date  November 20, 1999 (1999-11-20) (U.S.)
Based on  The Battle Over Citizen Kane  by Richard Ben Cramer Thomas Lennon
Writer  John Logan, Richard Ben Cramer (documentary "The Battle Over Citizen Kane"), Thomas Lennon (documentary "The Battle Over Citizen Kane")
Cast  Liev Schreiber (Orson Welles), James Cromwell (William Randolph Hearst), Melanie Griffith (Marion Davies), John Malkovich (Herman Mankiewicz), Brenda Blethyn (Louella Parsons), Roy Scheider (George Schaefer)
Similar movies  Jupiter Ascending, The Wolf of Wall Street, The 33, Frozen, Pitch Perfect 2, The Matrix

John malkovich 1999 rko 281 trailer

RKO 281 is a 1999 American historical drama film directed by Benjamin Ross and starring Liev Schreiber, James Cromwell, Melanie Griffith, John Malkovich, Roy Scheider and Liam Cunningham. The film depicts the troubled production behind the 1941 film Citizen Kane. The film's title is a reference to the original production number of Citizen Kane.


RKO 281 movie scenes

Rko 281


RKO 281 movie scenes

In 1940, Orson Welles (Schreiber), RKO studio head George Schaefer (Scheider), and screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Malkovich) struggle in making what will be considered as the greatest American film of all time, Citizen Kane.

After learning that Welles' film is actually a thinly veiled and exceptionally unflattering biography of him from Hedda Hopper after she participates at a press screening, publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst (Cromwell) uses his immense power and influence to try to deny the release of the picture. Hearst's mistress, actress Marion Davies (Griffith), endures the embarrassment of having their private lives exposed and vilified, while also offering Hearst consolation and even money when his finances begin to diminish (by selling all the jewelry he gave her and giving him the money).

In the end, after considerable delays and harassment, plus the disintegration of the professional relationship between Welles and Mankiewicz and a costly blow to Schaefer's career, the film is finally released. Its publicity is muted by Hearst's ban on its mention in all his publications, and its commercial success is limited. Welles, however, ultimately has the satisfaction of having created one of the most critically admired films of all time.


  • Liev Schreiber as Orson Welles
  • John Malkovich as Herman J. Mankiewicz
  • Roy Scheider as George Schaefer
  • James Cromwell as William Randolph Hearst
  • Melanie Griffith as Marion Davies
  • Liam Cunningham as Gregg Toland
  • David Suchet as Louis B. Mayer
  • Brenda Blethyn as Louella Parsons
  • Fiona Shaw as Hedda Hopper
  • Filming locations

    Producer Ridley Scott wanted to film in the Hearst Castle, but was denied. RKO 281 was filmed in the United Kingdom, mostly around London. The Gothic stairwell in Hearst Castle was filmed in the St Pancras Chambers, attached to St. Pancras Station. Hearst's private quarters and office, including a marble fireplace, were filmed in the high-ceilinged Gamble Room in the Victoria & Albert Museum. The fireplace seen in the room was saved from Dorchester House prior to that building's demolition in 1929. The Hearst castle dining hall and ballroom was filmed in the Great Hall of the London Guildhall.


    On aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a "fresh" rating of 92%, based on 13 reviews.


    The film won Best Miniseries or Motion Picture Made for Television at the 2000 Golden Globes, and also received a Emmy Award for Outstanding Casting for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special. Score composer John Altman also won a Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Miniseries, Movie or a Special.


    RKO 281 Wikipedia
    RKO 281 IMDb RKO 281

    Similar Topics
    Jupiter Ascending
    Pitch Perfect 2
    The Matrix