Kane in Continuity

The Production's Chronology

Beyond their glimpses of the sets of Citizen Kane and the lights, microphones, and other equipment just beyond the camera frame, the images in this collection offer up further information about the making of the film that may be particularly valuable for film scholars and historians: timestamps.

All 92 print photographs in the collection have a time element noted in the bottom right hand corner of back side (verso), either in the form of a handwritten month and year (e.g. “8-40”) or a stamp with the month, day, year, “AM” or “PM,” and a clock face, as shown in the image on the right. Without further research and more knowledge of continuity photograph practice in 1940’s Hollywood and at RKO, it is hard to know whether these times represent when the photograph was taken or developed. However, it is reasonable to expect that they were developed somewhat promptly, to assist the art director and set designers in maintaining the arrangement of props between shots and sessions of filming.

The uses to which these time elements may be put are unexplored territory. In recent years, much work has been done by scholar Harlan Lebo to understand the order in which the film’s scenes were shot -- and the reasons and pressures that caused that sequence -- and this data may help to corroborate and expand upon that knowledge.

The timeline below, which includes 32 photographs representing all sets in the collection, is an example of how these details might be used to map the chronology of the production. Hopefully, this visualization provides some new perspective on how Citizen Kane's sets evolved and an appreciation for how the film was put together over the course of the fall of 1940.

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