clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Let’s watch Donald Trump talk about Citizen Kane

Emily St. James was a senior correspondent for Vox, covering American identities. Before she joined Vox in 2014, she was the first TV editor of the A.V. Club.

Donald Trump has lived many lives. Businessman. Real estate mogul. Pageant impresario. Reality TV star. Presidential candidate.

But one life he possibly could have led but didn't is that of a film critic. In the above clip, Trump discusses Citizen Kane, the movie most often named the greatest film ever made, and though his reading of the film isn't especially deep, it is pretty on point for a man who (as far as we know) has no special training in film scholarship.

Trump seems to fundamentally understand Charles Foster Kane's loneliness, the idea that he's been cut off from something true and pure in his humanity by his immense fortune. He also pays special attention to one of director Orson Welles's most famous tricks, in which the table Kane and one of his wives dine at grows larger and larger, both as Kane's fortune grows and as he and his wife grow more distant. Roger Ebert's famous shot-by-shot dissections of the film this is not, but for a three-minute monologue, Trump hits a surprising number of high points.

Citizen Kane and his big table

Trump singles out the distancing effect of Kane's dining room table.


The clip hails from The Movie Movie, an abandoned project from documentarian Errol Morris (whose distinctive voice can be heard late in the clip). According to Morris, the film would have taken notable people and put them in scenes from their favorite movies. But instead of assembling a shot-for-shot remake of Kane starring Trump, Morris merely gifted us with the magnate's thoughts on his fictional forebear.

The moment where Trump lets himself down is strikingly prescient, too, given frequent complaints about the man's misogynistic comments. When Trump is prompted to contemplate what advice he would have given Kane at the clip's end, he finally settles on, "Get yourself a different woman." In Trump's reading of Kane, wounds can be self-inflicted, but it's probably better to find somebody else to blame.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Vox Recommends

Get curated picks of the best Vox journalism to read, watch, and listen to every week, from our editors.