Movie Article

Scene Stealing

Kenneth Branagh's inspirations -- The director pulls from ''Citizen Kane'' and Alfred Hitchcock in his film ''Dead Again''

In his new thriller, Dead Again, brash young director Kenneth Branagh openly courts comparison to the cinematic master, Orson Welles. Branagh borrows freely from the inimitable Citizen Kane, and also includes a number of visual references to the collected works of another cinematic legend, Alfred Hitchcock. For instance:

When Branagh visits an aged Andy Garcia, it's a virtual replay of the scene in Kane in which inquiring reporter William Alland visits an aged Joseph Cotten — just as Cotten begs for a forbidden cigar, Garcia pleads for a cigarette.

Branagh's first appearance as Roman Strauss is staged with his mouth in tight close-up, just like Welles' first appearance in Kane.

The final shot of the Strauss mansion, its iron gate decorated with a musical clef, recalls the final pan down Kane's Xanadu.

Hanna Schygulla, as the Strauss' scheming housekeeper, harks back to Judith Anderson's Mrs. Danvers in Hitchcock's Rebecca.

* A painting of melting scissors in Emma Thompson's apartment alludes to the famous Salvador Dali dream sequence in Spellbound.

When Thompson brandishes scissors in self-defense, she's invoking Grace Kelly's scissors scene in Dial M for Murder.

Originally posted Aug 30, 1991 Published in issue #81 Aug 30, 1991 Order article reprints