A history of surprising — and sometimes puzzling — Academy Award wins

1941 — “How Green Was My Valley” beats “Citizen Kane” Next » 1 of 7 « Prev
John Ford’s 1941 film about a family of coal miners in turn-of-the-century Wales won five Oscars all together, including Best Cinematography, Best Director and Best Picture.

In four of those categories, though, Ford’s film beat out what is widely regarded as possibly the greatest American film ever made, Orson Welles’ “Citizen Kane.”

The results of the 1941 Oscars aren’t just a case of “hindsight is 20/20,” though.

“Citizen Kane” had already collected major accolades, and early expectations were that it would sweep the awards — that is, until newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst stepped in. Hearst launched a smear campaign unlike anything else in Oscar history that included threats of blackmail and FBI investigations, and it worked.

The night of the Academy Awards, the audience booed every time “Citizen Kane” was mentioned, and Welles walked away with only one award for writing.
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