19 Must-Watch Movies Similar to Citizen Kane

Citizen Kane, a classic cinema masterpiece, has left us all wondering about the meaning of "Rosebud." If you're craving more captivating dramas and mysterious plots, check out our list of 20 must-watch movies that will leave you just as mesmerized and puzzled.

1) Journey Into Fear

Journey Into Fear is a thrilling movie that takes us on an adventure with an American ballistics expert in Turkey who becomes the target of Nazi agents. The film, released in 1943, stars the dynamic duo of Orson Welles and Joseph Cotten, who previously worked together in Citizen Kane. While it may not reach the same heights as their previous collaboration, Journey Into Fear still manages to engage the audience with cleverly shot scenes, witty dialogue, and suspense.
In this film, Cotten plays Howard Graham, an American engineer caught in the midst of a deal to supply Turkey with weapons to fight the Axis powers. However, the Nazis have other plans and are determined to prevent Graham from reaching the United States. The story unfolds as Graham finds himself on a ship that is supposed to provide safe passage home, only to discover that his pursuers are also on board.
Journey Into Fear is reminiscent of Citizen Kane in several ways.

Release date: February, 1943
IMDB Rating: 6.5

2) The Magnificent Ambersons

The Magnificent Ambersons takes us back to a time when Orson Welles was exploring different narrative styles and innovative camera techniques. Just like in Citizen Kane, Welles surrounds the narrative from all sides, using multiple narrators, newsreels, and newspapers to give us a comprehensive view. He also plays with the camera, making it surround and probe, creating a unique rhythm for the eye. While in Citizen Kane, Welles had a score to accompany his composition, in The Magnificent Ambersons, we only get fragments of what could have been. However, even these fragments, like the sleigh/car encounter in the snow, are absolutely amazing in their interplay. The pieces of this puzzle have a perfect logic and dance, allowing us to imagine the rest. It's baffling that some people think Welles only innovated in camera angles and lighting; he actually created a whole higher level of drama.

Release date: July, 1942
IMDB Rating: 7.6

3) Confidential Report

Confidential Report (also known as Mr. Arkadin) is a wild and unpredictable ride that will leave you scratching your head in the best way possible. If you enjoyed Citizen Kane, then you'll definitely appreciate the twisted brilliance of Confidential Report. While Citizen Kane delves into the life of a newspaper publisher and the mystery surrounding his final word, Confidential Report takes us on a journey with an elusive billionaire and an American smuggler investigating his past. Both films have a knack for exploring the dark underbelly of society and the complexities of human nature. However, where Citizen Kane is a well-crafted masterpiece, Confidential Report is a beautifully flawed gem. It's like someone took Citizen Kane and the Mask of Demitrios, threw them in a blender, and created a bizarre, dreamlike film. The performances in Confidential Report are a mixed bag, with some being incredibly bad and others being absolutely captivating.

Release date: June, 1956
IMDB Rating: 7.1

4) Macbeth

Macbeth, directed by Orson Welles, is a visually stunning and Gothic adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy. While it shares similarities with Kurosawa's Throne of Blood in terms of atmospheric scene-building and foggy landscapes, Macbeth falls slightly short in its dialogue scenes. Orson Welles, although a great actor, doesn't quite captivate in the same way as Mifune and Finch did in their respective portrayals of the lead character. Jeanette Nolan's performance as Lady Macbeth is somewhat over-the-top, and the presence of Dan O'Herlihy and Roddy McDowall feels out of place. However, Macbeth excels in its scene-building and set design, creating moments of brilliance, particularly in the gripping climax. Despite its weaknesses, this adaptation is still worth watching for its unique visual style and its ability to capture the Gothic horror of the play.

Release date: May, 1949
IMDB Rating: 7.4

5) Touch of Evil

"Touch of Evil" is a film that wouldn't be made today because nobody makes 'B' movies anymore; and this is the greatest 'B' movie in the history of cinema. It's a stark, perverse story of murder, kidnapping, and police corruption in a Mexican border town. Orson Welles, the genius behind this film, effortlessly makes it look like filmmaking by numbers. From the famous opening sequence to the closing titles, it's a reference book for film students. The portrayal of the bloated cop Hank Quinlan by Welles is just as captivating as his Harry Lime in 'The Third Man'. He delves deep into the seedy, corrupt Quinlan, yet still manages to evoke a touch of sympathy because we can relate to his fallibility as a human. It's almost sad to witness his fate, especially when Marlene Dietrich delivers her poignant soliloquy about him.

Release date: April, 1958
IMDB Rating: 8

6) The Lady from Shanghai

The Lady from Shanghai, released in 1960, is a film that showcases the greatness of Orson Welles, perhaps one of America's best motion picture directors of all time. Although the movie is flawed, one can only imagine the masterpiece it could have been without the interference of the studio. The story has some holes, possibly due to the demands of the executives who didn't fully trust the director. Despite this, the film still exemplifies Welles' originality and creativity, which influenced directors like the Coen brothers, Roman Polanski, and Woody Allen. The visuals in The Lady from Shanghai are absolutely stunning, particularly in how Rita Hayworth is lovingly photographed. She is breathtaking as a blonde, and her beauty is truly mesmerizing. The supporting performances from Everett Sloan and Glenn Anders also make excellent contributions to the movie. While the film might have been even better if Welles had not appeared in it himself and focused solely on directing, it still leaves a lasting impression.

Release date: November, 1960
IMDB Rating: 7.5

7) The Stranger

The Stranger is reminiscent of Citizen Kane in its exploration of hidden identities and the consequences of one's past. While Citizen Kane delves into the life of a powerful newspaper publisher, The Stranger follows the story of an infamous Nazi hiding in a small Connecticut town. Both films touch upon themes of deception, as the main characters hide their true selves from those around them. However, while Citizen Kane is a sprawling epic that spans the rise and fall of its protagonist, The Stranger focuses on a more contained narrative, centering on the pursuit of the Nazi war criminal. Orson Welles shines in both films, showcasing his talent as an actor and director. Despite being labeled as his least favorite film, The Stranger proves to be an enjoyable and gripping film noir, with a standout performance by Edward G. Robinson. If you enjoyed the intrigue and depth of Citizen Kane, The Stranger offers a thrilling and suspenseful experience that should not be missed.

Release date: June, 1958
IMDB Rating: 7.3

8) Black Magic

Black Magic, released in 1949, is reminiscent of the iconic film Citizen Kane. Although both movies were made in the same year, they offer distinct experiences for the audience. While Citizen Kane delves into the life of publishing tycoon Charles Foster Kane and explores themes of narcissism and materialism, Black Magic takes a different approach by focusing on revenge against King Louis XV's court. Both films belong to the Drama and Mystery genres, but Black Magic adds an extra layer of romance to the mix. Orson Welles, who starred in Citizen Kane, also appears in Black Magic, showcasing his versatility as an actor. The films share some common topics like the exploration of power dynamics and the use of symbolism. However, Black Magic tells a completely different story set in a different country and time period. If you loved the depth and artistry of Citizen Kane, you should watch Black Magic to witness Orson Welles' captivating performance in a different cinematic setting.

Release date: August, 1949
IMDB Rating: 6.4

9) Othello

Othello, also known as The Tragedy of Othello: The Moor of Venice, is a movie that will transport you to 16th century Italy. While not explicitly stated, this film shares some similarities with Citizen Kane. Just like Citizen Kane, Othello explores the theme of manipulation, where the main character, Othello, is deceived into believing that his wife has been unfaithful. Both films showcase the consequences of mistrust and the destructive power of lies. However, Othello takes a more intimate approach, focusing on the personal tragedy of the characters involved. Set against the backdrop of Venice and Cyprus, Othello offers a captivating blend of drama and romance, highlighting the complexities of human relationships. Directed by Orson Welles himself, Othello showcases his unique vision and artistic style. While Citizen Kane delves into the life of a newspaper publisher, Othello takes us on a journey through the depths of human emotion.

Release date: August, 1959
IMDB Rating: 7.5

10) Chimes at Midnight

Chimes at Midnight is reminiscent of Citizen Kane because both films were directed by the talented Orson Welles. While Citizen Kane explores the life and death of a newspaper tycoon, Chimes at Midnight delves into the reign of King Henry IV and the rise of Henry V. Both movies have a sense of grandeur and ambition, showcasing Welles' ability to create visually stunning and thematically rich stories. However, Chimes at Midnight differs from Citizen Kane in its genre and setting. It combines elements of comedy, drama, history, and war, taking us back to the 1400s and the world of royalty. With its incredible battle scenes and Welles' captivating performance, Chimes at Midnight is a must-watch for anyone who appreciates the depth and artistry of Welles' work.

Release date: May, 1968
IMDB Rating: 7.7

11) The Third Man

The Third Man. What do you get when you combine post-war Vienna, a mysterious death, and Orson Welles? The Third Man, that's what! This film is reminiscent of Citizen Kane, not just because both movies star Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles, but also because they both delve into the dark and complex nature of their characters. While Citizen Kane explores the rise and fall of a newspaper tycoon, The Third Man takes us on a thrilling journey through the shadowy streets of Vienna as pulp novelist Holly Martins investigates the death of his old friend, Harry Lime. But what really sets The Third Man apart is its innovative cinematography. Robert Krasker's camera angles and back-lighting create a visual feast for the eyes, capturing the eerie atmosphere of the deserted streets and delivering one of the most dramatic character entrances in film history with Harry Lime's first glimpse.

Release date: September, 1949
IMDB Rating: 8.1

12) The Hoodlum Saint

The Hoodlum Saint is reminiscent of Citizen Kane in its exploration of the glamorous and ruthless world of newspaper publishers. While the former may not reach the same level of brilliance as the latter, it still captivates audiences with its own charm. The Hoodlum Saint tells the story of a former reporter who, after returning from World War I, struggles to find work and ultimately ends up in the newspaper industry. This narrative parallel to Citizen Kane, where reporters scramble to uncover the meaning of the protagonist's final word, "Rosebud," adds an interesting layer to the comparison. However, unlike Citizen Kane, The Hoodlum Saint focuses on the consequences of the protagonist's pursuit of wealth and success during the stock market crash of 1929. The Depression forces him to reevaluate his priorities and discover that money cannot buy everything, especially love and happiness.

Release date: April, 1946
IMDB Rating: 6.1

13) The Trial

The Trial is reminiscent of Citizen Kane in many ways. Both movies explore the themes of power, identity, and the search for meaning. While Citizen Kane delves into the life of a newspaper publisher and his enigmatic final word, The Trial follows an unassuming office worker who is arrested and stands trial without ever knowing his charges. Orson Welles, the mastermind behind both films, showcases his unique storytelling style in each of them. In Citizen Kane, Welles uses symbolism and flashbacks to unravel the protagonist's life, while in The Trial, he employs surrealism and paranoia to depict the protagonist's angst. Both films are characterized by impressive visuals, with Citizen Kane utilizing innovative camera work and lighting techniques, and The Trial featuring the haunting interiors of an abandoned train station. Despite their similarities, the two movies also have their distinctions. Citizen Kane is a drama and mystery set in New York, while The Trial is a drama, mystery, and thriller set in France.

Release date: December, 1962
IMDB Rating: 7.6

14) After Office Hours

After Office Hours is reminiscent of Citizen Kane in its exploration of the newspaper industry, but with a lighter and more comedic tone. While Citizen Kane delves into the life of a newspaper publisher, After Office Hours focuses on a hard-hitting news editor named Jim Branch who falls for a high-society type named Sharon Norwood. Just like in Citizen Kane, the main character in After Office Hours uses their connection with the rich and famous to uncover a mystery. However, instead of the enigmatic utterance of "Rosebud," the mystery in After Office Hours revolves around the murder of one of Sharon's socialite acquaintances. The similarities between the two movies lie in their portrayal of the newspaper industry and the use of key topics such as newspaper publishers and socialites.

Release date: February, 1935
IMDB Rating: 6.4

15) Street of Chance

Street of Chance, released in 1942, is reminiscent of Citizen Kane. Both films fall into the mystery genre and take place in New York City. While Citizen Kane focuses on the life of a newspaper publisher, Street of Chance follows a man with amnesia who discovers the truth about his identity and past. Both movies explore themes of identity, truth, and the consequences of one's actions. However, Street of Chance differs from Citizen Kane in terms of runtime, ratings, and cast. With a shorter runtime of 74 minutes and a people vote average of 6.4, Street of Chance offers a quicker and more accessible viewing experience. The film features Burgess Meredith and Claire Trevor in the lead roles, providing strong performances that captivate the audience. Overall, Street of Chance offers a compelling mystery narrative with engaging performances, making it a film worth watching for fans of Citizen Kane.

Release date: October, 1942
IMDB Rating: 6.4

16) The Big Clock

The Big Clock is a thrilling film that will keep you on the edge of your seat, much like Citizen Kane. While Citizen Kane explores the life of a newspaper publisher, The Big Clock delves into the world of a crime magazine editor, both of whom find themselves caught in a web of deception and mystery. The similarities between the two movies lie in their captivating storylines and the charismatic performances of their lead actors. In Citizen Kane, Orson Welles delivers a mesmerizing performance as Charles Foster Kane, while in The Big Clock, Ray Milland shines as the magazine editor trying to solve a murder he's been framed for. Charles Laughton's portrayal of the tyrannical boss in The Big Clock is reminiscent of Kane's power-hungry nature. Both films also feature strong supporting casts, with Joseph Cotten and Maureen O'Sullivan adding depth to their respective movies.

Release date: April, 1948
IMDB Rating: 7.6

17) Flaxy Martin

Flaxy Martin is a captivating film that takes place in 1940s New York. Although not as critically acclaimed as Citizen Kane, it is reminiscent of the classic in its portrayal of the dark side of society. Flaxy Martin revolves around a mob attorney named Walter Colby, who is manipulated by the seductive showgirl Flaxy Martin into taking the blame for a murder committed by mobster Hap Richie's goons. Colby manages to escape and seeks revenge against those who wronged him. While the plot may not be as intricate and layered as Citizen Kane, Flaxy Martin still keeps you on the edge of your seat with its tight and suspenseful storyline. The performances by Zachary Scott and Virginia Mayo are outstanding, with Scott delivering amusing tough guy lines and Mayo convincingly portraying a scheming tramp. The supporting cast, including Dorothy Malone, Douglas Kennedy, Elisha Cook Jr.

Release date: February, 1949
IMDB Rating: 6.5

18) Casablanca

Casablanca, released in 1947, is reminiscent of Citizen Kane in many ways. Both movies belong to the drama genre and have a runtime of over 100 minutes. They both revolve around complex characters and explore themes of love, power, and morality. While Citizen Kane focuses on the life of a newspaper publisher and his mysterious last words, Casablanca tells the story of a cynical cafe owner's struggle to decide whether to help his former lover and her fugitive husband escape the Nazis. Both films have been hailed as masterpieces, with Casablanca even winning more awards than Citizen Kane. If you enjoyed the deep symbolism and engaging storyline of Citizen Kane, Casablanca is a must-watch that will captivate you with its timeless romance and unforgettable dialogue.

Release date: July, 1947
IMDB Rating: 8.5
14 Must-Watch Movies Similar to Casablanca

19) Trent's Last Case

Trent's Last Case is reminiscent of Citizen Kane in its captivating mystery and intriguing characters. Both films revolve around a wealthy and influential figure whose death sparks an investigation. While Citizen Kane centers on the search for the meaning behind Charles Foster Kane's last word, "Rosebud," Trent's Last Case delves into reporter Philip Trent's suspicions that a assumed suicide is actually a murder. The similarities continue with the presence of Orson Welles in both movies, delivering powerful performances that leave a lasting impact. However, where Citizen Kane explores the depths of Kane's life and his rise and fall from power, Trent's Last Case focuses more on the classic whodunit element, reminiscent of Agatha Christie's mysteries. With an interesting storyline, engaging characters, and a touch of British noir, Trent's Last Case offers a delightful cinematic experience for those who appreciate a good old-fashioned detective tale.

Release date: February, 1953
IMDB Rating: 6

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