FILM / Director's cut: A legend in his own breakfast-time: Taylor Hackford, director of An Officer and a Gentleman, on the revealing breakfast scene between Orson Welles and Ruth Warrwick in Citizen Kane

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The Independent Culture
I first saw Citizen Kane when I was growing up in California. On Channel 9 there was this slot called 'The Million Dollar Movie' - it was just shown like any other TV movie. I didn't understand the brilliance of it until I became a film-maker.

It may be a cliche for me to choose Citizen Kane, but all young people should go and see it. Welles himself was extraordinary; it wasn't exactly what you would call a one- note performance. He violates my maxim that actors can't direct themselves. Visually, he was a stunning director. And the moment that had the greatest economy, the most fantastic statement made in the shortest time, was the breakfast scene.

Kane marries this socialite, a woman right within his caste, then realises that, once the passion has gone, there is no intellectual glue to hold them together. On the first morning he's all over his wife. Then, through a series of dissolves, you watch as their marriage progresses. They start disagreeing about politics and sit further and further apart until finally they're at each end of the table, not saying a word. The only thing you hear is the teacups hitting the table. The scene lasts a minute, maybe 90 seconds, and in it you see the whole marriage. It seems simple but it's not easy to come by. It's very humbling: both stylistically interesting and character-defining. It's film-making par excellence.

Rob Wise (the editor of Citizen Kane) told me that he had trouble with the studio on Welles's second film, The Magnificent Ambersons. He rang up Welles, who was in Rio, and said, 'They're going to cut the film to shreds and I can't stop them; I'm only the editor. Come back.' But Welles didn't go. He was a great talent and, at the same time, a spoilt brat. And that was the beginning of the end of his career.

I end up making films that are longer and longer: Blood In Blood Out runs 181 minutes. On my last film, When I Fall in Love, I was contractually bound to deliver a two-hour film. My director's cut was two and a half hours - it was much better at that length. But oftentimes the pre-production is instrumental: the script determines all. When I came to shoot When I Fall in Love, it didn't have the economies of Citizen Kane. But I wasn't going to walk off in a huff, like Welles, and let the studio cut my picture.

Taylor Hackford directed 'An Officer and a Gentleman' and 'When I Fall in Love'. His new film, 'Blood In Blood Out', is on release

(Photograph omitted)

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