After eighty years of cinema history Orson Welles’ Fourth Power is no longer the most acclaimed film ever: at least on Rotten Tomatoes, the famous aggregator of reviews on which, suddenly, the first negative review for the seminal masterpiece of 1941 appeared.
The review is authentic and popped out of the “Rotten Tomatoes Archives”, a section of the site used to preserve critical analyzes from decades ago (such as those written before the advent of the internet) that would otherwise risk being lost. Six months after its foundation, the Rotten Tomatoes Archive has unearthed a review originally published around the time of Fourth Estate, a review that crushes Welles’ film and which consequently led to the reduction of his RT score from 100% to 99%.
The article comes from the Chicago Tribune and bears the signature of film critic Frances Peck (who writes under the pseudonym of Mae Tinee, a pun for “Matinee”): published Wednesday 7 May 1941, the piece arrives a few days after the premiere world of the film and begins: “I have heard a lot about this film and I see from the ads that some experts think it is ‘the greatest ever made’. Not me.“Peck’s review continues:”It’s interesting. It’s different. In fact, it’s quirky enough to become a museum piece. But his sacrifice of simplicity for eccentricity robs him of the distinction and general value of entertainment“.
In more recent times, the infamous critic Armond White with his negative reviews had done so lose 100% popularity with movies like Toy Story 3 e Get Out, stopped at 99%: from today they can boast of having the same score as Fourth Estate!
Orson Welles’ film (whose making was recently told by David Fincher’s Mank) therefore gives way to Paddington 2, now the most acclaimed film ever: on social media there was no lack of complaints, but also compliments to the work of Paul King. In the tweet below, director James Gunn defends it, calling it a masterpiece.