Paddington 2 replaces Citizen Kane as top film on Rotten Tomatoes

Citizen Kane (right), the 1941 classic, is regularly placed atop lists of greatest American films.
Citizen Kane (right), the 1941 classic, is regularly placed atop lists of greatest American films.PHOTOS: AMAZON PRIME INSTANT VIDEO, ST FILE

NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - Citizen Kane, the 1941 Orson Welles classic about the rise and fall of publishing magnate Charles Foster Kane, long had a perfect critics' score on the film website Rotten Tomatoes, which had aggregated 115 reviews. Until last month.

That is when a rediscovered write-up by a critic who died decades ago played spoiler.

The 80-year-old, less-than-effusive review, headlined Citizen Kane Fails To Impress Critic As Greatest Ever Filmed, resurfaced last month as part of a new archival project at Rotten Tomatoes.

The review, which ran in the Chicago Tribune in 1941 and was quietly added to the Citizen Kane page on Rotten Tomatoes in March, brought the classic film, which is regularly placed atop lists of greatest American films, down a peg or two.

"You've heard a lot about this picture and I see by the ads that some experts think it 'the greatest movie ever made'," the critic, whose punny pseudonymous byline was Mae Tinee, wrote. "I don't."

"It's interesting," the reviewer wrote. "It's different. In fact, it's bizarre enough to become a museum piece. But its sacrifice of simplicity to eccentricity robs it of distinction and general entertainment value."

The film's black and white photography, which has been lauded for years for its atmospheric, noirish touch, was criticised as "shadowy and spooky" by the reviewer, who said it "gives one the creeps".

"I kept wishing they'd let a little sunshine in," she wrote. With the inclusion of her dissenting opinion, the film is now rated only 99 per cent "Fresh" on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer.

This means that, according to the review site, there are now 63 films with at least 40 reviews that are now more universally admired by critics than Citizen Kane.

These includes some predictable classics - Modern Times (1936), Singin' In The Rain (1952), The Maltese Falcon (1941) and some less predictable recent films, such as the first two Toy Story movies (1995 and 1999).

Topping this list with the most reviews is Paddington 2, the 2018 children's film about a bear who, according to the review site, "spreads joy and marmalade wherever he goes".

Its writer and director, Paul King, told The Hollywood Reporter that while he was pleased the film was on the list, he would not take it edging out Citizen Kane too seriously. "I won't let it go too much to my head and immediately build my Xanadu," he said.