'Citizen Kane' Scripts Going to Auction in California

Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival
Orson Welles

The script is the earliest known existing draft of the movie in private hands, according to the auction house Profiles in History.

NEW YORK (AP) — Orson Welles' personal manuscripts for Citizen Kane are going on the auction block, including the film's final revised shooting script.

The three screenplays being offered by Profiles in History on Sept. 29 illustrate the evolution in the creation of the classic masterpiece, a landmark in the history of film for its innovative cinematic, lighting and narrative techniques.

Welles, who directed and starred in the film about the rise and fall of a publishing tycoon, was 25 when the movie debuted in 1941.

"To have something that comes directly from Orson Welles, items that he used himself in structuring the movie, is incredible," said Harlan Lebo, whose book Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker's Journey is scheduled for release next year.

An original first rough draft of "American" — the working title for Citizen Kane — written in 1940 by Welles' collaborator Herman Mankiewicz is estimated to bring $20,000 to $30,000 as part of the Calabasas, California-based auctioneer's three-day sale of Hollywood memorabilia.

It's the earliest known existing draft of the movie in private hands, the auction house said. It was "created so early that writing of major scenes and characters is yet to come," Lebo said in the introduction to the auction catalog.

The next draft "is a fuller evolution of the script, now with the principal plot elements," Lebo said.

The third and final revised shooting script includes Welles' handwritten annotations, directing notes and camera-angle diagrams and is signed by most of the cast principals. The 156-page manuscript is dated July 16, 1940.

"This is the actual script Welles held in his hands while directing the movie with his camera blocking notes," said Profiles' owner Joseph Maddalena.

"What's so significant about this is there's been so much written about Citizen Kane that is inaccurate or we just don't know because there are gaps in the story because no one had the source reference," he said. "For people who study film, it's a big deal because you actually now have the entire story."

The other two scripts also are estimated to sell for $20,000 to $30,000.

Maddalena said the seller was a close friend of Welles who acquired the material directly from the filmmaker, who died in 1985.

The sale also includes a rare original 49-page CBS-issued transcript of the 1938 Mercury Theatre radio broadcast of War of the Worlds — an adaptation of H.G. Wells' science-fiction novel — and the cover letter from the network apologizing for the mass hysteria created by the realistic dramatization of a Martian invasion of Earth. It comes from another collector and is estimated at $20,000 to $30,000.

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