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1. Orson Welles, "Citizen Kane" (1941)
It boils down to kind of a no-brainer here. "Citizen Kane" launched Orson Welles into the stratosphere of great American filmmakers, but it also marked the beginning of an icon on film. Welles's unmistakable cadence and swagger, his gilded genius, his bellowing confidence, it's all here. It may have started on radio waves some years prior, but it was announced to the world on celluloid in this masterpiece still considered by many to be the greatest film ever produced. And Welles dominated every frame taking his character on a life-long, charismatic journey. It's the greatest debut performance of all time.