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CITIZEN KANE is perhaps the most famous directorial debut in movie history but it wasn't actually Orson Welles' first film. He'd already made a handful of shorts, the earliest being this project created at Illinois' progressive Todd School for Boys with fellow graduate William Vance. Welles later said it was their attempt to send up the surrealist films coming from Europe (like Luis Buñuel's earliest efforts) which were all the rage for aspiring young avant-gardists like himself. Its silent imagery is a humorous jumble of deliberately heavy-handed symbolism, arty montage and youthful actors in ridiculous theatrical makeup. The grotesque fellow banging away at the piano toward the end, purportedly representing Death, no less, is Orson himself, while his first wife Virginia Nicholson plays an old lady on a hobby horse and co-director Vance portrays a “dime-store” Indian.

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