RKO 281

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RKO 281
Australian poster
Directed by Benjamin Ross
Produced by Su Armstrong
Ridley Scott
Tony Scott
Written by Richard Ben Cramer
Thomas Lennon
John Logan
Starring Liev Schreiber
James Cromwell
Melanie Griffith
John Malkovich
Brenda Blethyn
Roy Scheider
Liam Cunningham
Kerry Shale
Distributed by HBO Pictures
Release dates
  • November 20, 1999 (1999-11-20) (U.S.)
Running time
83 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $12 million (est.)

RKO 281 is a 1999 historical drama film directed by Benjamin Ross. It stars Liev Schreiber, James Cromwell, Melanie Griffith, John Malkovich, Roy Scheider and Liam Cunningham. The film depicts the troubled production behind the 1941 film Citizen Kane. The film's title is a reference to the original production number of Citizen Kane.


In 1940, Orson Welles (Schreiber), RKO studio head George Schaefer (Scheider), and screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (Malkovich) struggle in making what will be considered as the greatest American film of all time, Citizen Kane. After learning that Welles' film is actually a thinly-veiled and exceptionally unflattering biography of him, publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst (Cromwell) uses his immense power and influence to try to bury the picture.

Filming locations[edit]

Producer Ridley Scott wanted to film in the Hearst Castle, but was denied.[1] The movie was filmed in the United Kingdom, mostly around London. The Gothic stairwell in Hearst Castle was filmed in the St Pancras Chambers, attached to St. Pancras Station. Hearst's private quarters and office, including a marble fireplace, were filmed in the high-ceilinged Gamble Room in the Victoria & Albert Museum.[1] The fireplace seen in the room was saved from Dorchester House prior to that building's demolition in 1929. The Hearst castle dining hall and ballroom was filmed in the Great Hall of the London Guildhall.[2]


On aggregate review site Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds a "fresh" rating of 92%, based on 13 reviews.[3] Score composer John Altman (composer) won an Emmy Award for the Most Outstanding Score For a Movie or Miniseries.


  1. ^ a b Gritten, David (1999-09-05). "The Los Angeles Times Television Section September 05, 1999". Retrieved 2010-10-23. 
  2. ^ "The City of London - Guildhall". Retrieved August 24, 2012. 
  3. ^ "RKO 281 Review". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved August 24, 2012. 

External links[edit]