Oh to be a fly on the wall at the White House screening room. Once a humble cloakroom in the East Wing, it was converted into a mini cinema in the 1940s, and decked out in spanking red during the George W Bush administration. Jimmy Carter used the hell out of it, screening more than 480 films during his one-term presidency, and Bill Clinton was also a keen moviegoer, distracting himself from crises, presidential and personal, by watching such hearty 90s fare as Braveheart, The Patriot and Saving Private Ryan.
President Trump's use has apparently been patchier: he's more of a Fox News and reality TV type of guy, but he has shown movies intermittently in the White House cinema, beginning, we are told, with Finding Dory. Other sporadic screenings during his tumultuous term have included Joker, The Greatest Showman and - puzzlingly - The Post.
That last film, much lauded on its release in 2017, dramatised The Washington Post's decision to publish extracts of the Pentagon Papers in 1971, revealing the sorry details of America's 20-year involvement with Vietnam. The Post championed the free press; Trump does not. One wonders if he caught any of its not-so-veiled references to him.
Is Donald a cinephile? Possibly not, because his public utterances on the matter have tended to be contradictory. Apparently he once briefly toyed with becoming a movie producer himself, and has expressed his admiration for kick-ass all-American action films like Rambo, Death Wish and - revealingly - Air Force One, a 1990s Harrison Ford vehicle in which the US President himself rolls up his sleeves and takes on an aeroplane full of terrorists. A touch of wish fulfilment going on there, one suspects.
We all know how he feels about subtitled foreign films, however, after his intemperate outbursts following the South Korean movie Parasite's triumph at the 2020 Oscars. "How bad were the Academy Awards this year?" he asked a rally of the baying faithful. "The winner is… a movie from South Korea. What the hell was that all about?"
Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight Rises does get the imperial thumbs up, though that may possibly have something to do with the fact that Trump Tower appears prominently in it. And in a 1997 New Yorker profile, Trump proclaimed his love for Bloodsport, a relentlessly dim 1988 martial arts caper starring that Olivier of the high kicks, Jean-Claude Van Damme. During an eventful flight on Trump's private jet, New Yorker writer Mark Singer described how Donald stuck Bloodsport in the VCR and had his son, Eric, fast-forward through all that boring exposition to the action scenes.
This kind of behaviour does not denote a stellar attention span, yet on several occasions Trump has trumpeted his love of Citizen Kane. In a 2002 interview with the film-maker Errol Morris, the property mogul and budding reality TV star professed his love for Orson Welles' 1941 movie, and made some not particularly insightful comments about it.
His admiration for Welles was tempered by the fact that, in Donald's opinion, the great actor and director was "totally f***ed up. He was a total mess. But think of his wives [a reference no doubt to Mrs Welles number two - the spectacular Rita Hayworth]. Think of his hits!" Orson might be horrified to hear his clutch of masterpieces referred to as 'hits', but Trump's robust assessment didn't end there.
Most readings of Citizen Kane pitch Charles Foster Kane as a tragic figure, a person whose high ideals are slowly choked by wealth, and vanity: the strutting newspaper baron becomes so convinced that he is the people's champion that in the end the only opinion that matters is his own.
Donald, though, has another theory - Kane's big problem was women. "The relationship he had was probably not a good one for him," Trump said, which implies that if only he'd found the right female, he would not have turned into a grasping, paranoid maniac. "Probably not a great one for her either," he added sportingly, "although, there were benefits." Yes. But hang on - another insight.
"Citizen Kane was really about accumulation," he concluded. "At the end of the accumulation, you see what happens, and it's not necessarily all positive." You can say that again, and this from a man who has accumulated - and lost, and accumulated again - a dizzy portfolio of properties, golf courses and various other blingy manifestations of wealth.
But Donald's take on the film - indeed his enthusiasm for it in the first place - is puzzling. His recent foray into politics would suggest that Donald Trump's ideal America is a brash, booming laissez-faire capitalist society dominated by the go-getting super wealthy and in which the vast underclass is left to fend for itself. But Citizen Kane was, among other things, an impassioned critique of America's obsession with wealth, acquisition and power. Orson Welles co-wrote Kane with Herman Mankiewicz, and their story was inspired in part by the exploits of real-life press baron William Randolph Hearst, who was so incensed by the very existence of the film that he tried to block its release and destroy Welles' career. Hearst cannot have known that Orson would manage that last task very successfully all by himself.
Hearst was the great exponent of yellow journalism: his proto-tabloids drew millions of readers with lurid stories of sex, crime and corruption which often turned out to be 'fake news'. So Donald might have admired and even emulated the real Hearst, but in the film, Charles Foster Kane, starts out as a lofty idealist, a waif from nowhere who inherits a vast fortune and pumps large portions of it into a newspaper dedicated to protecting the rights of the poor and downtrodden.
In the pages of the New York Inquirer, Kane and his journalists go after slum landlords and corrupt politicians, sabre-rattling for the poor and, in the process, selling shedloads of copies. At first Kane's enthusiasm for social justice and reform seems genuine, but as his wealth accumulates, he becomes divorced from the hard realities of life for ordinary people, ever more obsessed with his own importance.
He ends his life alone and miserable in the vast palace he has built for himself, his last utterance a primal yearning for the lost innocence of childhood.
In the end, Citizen Kane painted a stinging portrait of a country mired in ugly iniquity but convinced of its own superiority. Dig beneath the topsoil of American society, it seemed to argue, and what you found was not culture or shared values but a callow scramble for money. Charles Foster Kane, a young man who might have become a great one, is hopelessly corrupted by the weight of his own possessions.
Donald seems perfectly alright with owning and controlling a $2bn property empire, and does not seem excessively concerned with the plight of the working man. Citizen Kane expresses contempt for the arrogance and insensitivity of the super-wealthy: doesn't Donald see that Welles would despise every single thing he stands for?
When you think about it, Donald ought to hate Kane, its artsy aesthetic and insidious socialist undercurrents. Which leads one to wonder, has he actually watched it at all?
In ways, Citizen Kane got beneath the glamour of super wealth to expose the moral bankruptcy of American capitalism. And American capitalists don't come much more morally bankrupt than Donald J Trump. If he's not offended by Welles' film, maybe he ought to be. Jean-Claude Van Damme might be a worthier object of Donald's affection after all.