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Jabootu's Bad Movie Dimension


Behind the joke on

Mansion Mystery (1941)

Ladies and gentlemen, we hope you enjoyed our attempt at bizarro mirth for April Fool's Day.  And as Orson Welles said at the end of his radio presentation of The War of the Worlds, we hope that none of you felt compelled to run panicking into the streets.

As most of you have realized, this has been a none-too-subtle parody on Citizen Kane.  For those of you who didn't get the joke, for shame.  You probably haven't seen it.  Go see it.  Scared of it?  Don't be.  It's not what you think.

And you also realize by now that the approach on this parody has been, what if Orson Welles had the vision for his masterpiece, but couldn't get the backing to make it the way he wanted it?  What might it look like?  What compromises might he have made?  What B movie actors might've been in it?  And what kind of strange twists in history would put him into this position?  

As with any lie, more lies must be invented to support the original.  And so was built the alternate history where Mansion Mystery lives.  What if William Randolph Hearst had become mayor of New York, and then President?  Would the man who pushed for war with Spain also push for an early war with Japan, yet keep America out of the war in Europe?  And how might politics in that alternate today, whence the article would have been written, be different?  (For those of you who like this sort of fiction, go check out the book The Iron Dream by Norman Spinrad.)

Not that an elaborate set-up like this was required for the film's ridicule.  When it was initially released, it was the subject of scorn by many movie reviewers -- in newspapers that still had ties with Hearst.  Every time the movie was mentioned at the Academy Awards, the audience booed.  At least it won for best screenplay.

But times change.  And now that it's been recognized as a classic, everyone can enjoy Citizen Kane.  Right?

Wrong.  To research this article, I needed a copy of the movie.  I thought that'd be easy.  On my way home from work one night, I went to about six video stores, trying to find one for sale.  No luck.  It surprised me that this wasn't and easy find; after all, we're talking about what's very likely to be the finest movie ever made in America.  

For the sake of irony, I note that at each of the video stores I visited that night, I could've scored about thirty copies of Battlefield Earth, in both VHS and DVD formats.  

Did you know that Citizen Kane hasn't been released on DVD yet, 'cept in Japan?

Therefore, let's remember that Ted Turner owns the rights on Citizen Kane and say, Ted, don't you think it's about time for you to unleash this thing on DVD?  Envision the marketing potential of a special edition....

Originally published on 1 April 2001 (only this time, we're not kidding)


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