“Junk” is the final word spoken in Hollywood’s most famous art project, Citizen Kane. This essay focuses on three different registers in Kane for understanding the film’s persistent intermingling of art and junk. The first is Charles Foster Kane’s dual career as a newspaper publisher and an art collector; the second, Kane’s cross-class marriage to the shopgirl Susan Alexander; and the third is the film’s signature visual motif, which the essay calls a scatterform. Comparing these features of Kane with similar features in a more conventional Hollywood film, My Best Girl, the essay shows how the peculiar texture of Kane derives from its attempt to think its way out of a theoretical double bind generated by the contemporary insistence that the only way a movie could rival traditional art forms was to reject them as models for emulation. That is why Citizen Kane ties its own artistic bravura to such mass-produced junk as a store-bought snow globe and a sled whose brand name is “Rosebud.”

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