One of the tacit rules of Hollywood, and of the world’s film industries at large, is that it’s not a very good practice to badmouth your peers. After all, no matter how much you dislike a certain effort and fancy yourself superior to it, it’s not like you’re the director of “Citizen Kane” yourself; everybody who sets out to make movies is on the same boat, doing the best they can, equally susceptible to failure and imperfection.
Of course, when it came to the person who did direct “Citizen Kane,” they felt as authoritative on the subject of other movies and directors as you might expect. Orson Welles was as famous for his takedowns of fellow master filmmakers as for having helmed the commonplace pick for best film of all time. The targets of his reckless, iconoclastic eloquence ran the gamut from Charlie Chaplin to Michelangelo Antonioni, Jean-Luc Godard, and Sergei Eisenstein (via Open Culture). But there is one great director for whom Welles’ words were particularly harsh: the Master of Suspense himself, Alfred Hitchcock. And Welles’ criticism of Hitchcock is all the more jarring when you consider the movie it’s aimed at — precisely the one that vies with “Citizen Kane” for the all-time critical crown.