No time was lost mobilising forces against Welles and RKO. The studio, harassed by the Hearst press - 30 of the most influential papers in the country - found its position vulnerable. A word in the ear of Nelson Rockefeller, and Radio City Music Hall became unavailable; the same thing happened at theatres all over the country. Financial disaster loomed. Hollywood itself was hostile: at 25, Welles was already a daring and successful director/producer/star both on stage and in radio, and was far from humble about it. His arrogance made it easy for Louella Parsons to attack the man who attacked her boss. Louis B Mayer, Hearst's old buddy (MGM produced many Marion Davies films), offered to buy the negative and prints of Citizen Kane and destroy them, but RKO finally permitted the film's release, on 1 May, 1941.
By chance, the old lion and the cocky cub crossed paths not long afterward. On the day of the San Francisco opening (as Welles told the story later), the two adversaries found themselves alone together in the lift of the Fairmont Hotel. Welles could not ignore such potential for drama. Oozing charm, he introduced himself as the son of the publisher's old friend, Richard Welles, and invited Hearst to the premier. His overture was met with stony silence. As Hearst got off at his floor, Welles, rebuffed but unrelenting, delivered his final shot: "Charles Foster Kane would have accepted."Reuse content