The Magnificent Ambersons1942
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
Critic Consensus: Assembled with bold visual craft and penetrating insight, The Magnificent Ambersons further establishes writer-director Orson Welles as a generational talent.
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as Eugene Morgan
as Isabel Amberson Minafer
as Lucy Morgan
as Fanny Amberson
as Jack Amberson
as Maj. Amberson
as George Amberson Minafer
as Sam the Butler
as Wilbur Minafer
as Uncle John
as Woman at Funeral
as Man at Funeral
as George as a Boy
as Man at Funeral
as Mrs. Foster
as Hardware Man
as Fred Kinney
as George as a Boy
as Rev. Smith
as Cop at Accident
as Drugstore Clerk
as Charlie Johnson
as House Servant
as Young Man
as Youth at Accident
as Ballroom Extra
as Narrator, The Narrator
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Critic Reviews for The Magnificent Ambersons
Film snobs like to say that this, the second feature from Orson Welles, is even better than Citizen Kane. That's a stretch, but it's certainly exquisitely beautiful film-making - there are frames in there to die for.
Ambersons is not another Citizen Kane, but it is good enough to remove Director Welles for keeps from the novice or one-picture-prodigy class.
Although reams have been written about the mutilation of Orson Welles' second feature, what remains of it is nevertheless a major accomplishment.
While telling this story, haltingly and clumsily, the movie runs from burdensome through heavy and dull to bad. It stutters and stumbles as Welles submerges Tarkington's story in a mess of radio and stage technique.
Orson Welles devotes 9,000 feet of film to a spoiled brat who grows up as a spoiled, spiteful young man. This film hasn't a single moment of contrast; it piles on and on a tale of woe, but without once striking at least a true chord of sentimentality.
Audience Reviews for The Magnificent Ambersons
Orson Welles was reportedly furious when this film was cut to smithereens by his studio, and his editor, Robert Wise, while he was elsewhere, filming in South America. He believed that this could have been better than "Citizen Kane," his magnum opus. While it's hard to be conclusive in that assessment, I can say that this film is just as big and concrete as his first. This film too looks at the lives of people through many years, and shows their transformations from idle youths to confident adults. The Amberson family members are comprised of a group of fascinating individuals who each want things they apparently can't have. The Industrial Revolution's evolution of technology leads to the family's undoing, as their neighbor's wealth grows and theirs' dwindles. Their matriarch and patriarch fall, the aunt and nephew often struggle against each other on escalating levels of cruelty, and relationships suffer for it. It's a beautiful film that obviously could have been much bigger, much darker in its take on the family. Sadly the original rough cut of the film was destroyed by the studio, probably to keep megalomaniac Welles from putting his film back together. This is an amazing addition to Welles' canon and is beautiful in both scope and story.
That staircase. After watching The Magnificent Ambersons, I'm still struck by the staircase of the Amberson mansion. Director Orson Welles somehow gives the impression the staircase winds up story after story, hundreds of feet into the rafters, and without a window to be found. The Ambersons live in this mansion of nitemares, all shadows and endless, winding stairs. The Ambersons are a family of great Shakespearean tragedy. Eugene (Joseph Cotten) and Isabel (Dolores Costello) are sweethearts until Eugene embarrasses himself (when coming to serenade Isabel, he accidentally trips and smashes his bass fiddle) and becomes the laughing stock of the town. Isabel can't settle for any imperfection as she's the daughter of a very important family. She chooses security over love, and marries a plain but well off businessman. When their child comes, he's spoiled horribly, and grows into an even more obnoxious adult. Meanwhile, Eugene has returned to his hometown a successful car manufacturer, recently widowed and with a beautiful daughter. Isabel's son, George (Tim Holt) falls in love with Eugene's daughter, or at least what passes for love in someone so self-absorbed and egotistical. Eugene and Isabel strike up where they left off, much to the envy of the jealous Aunt Fanny (Agnes Moorehead). Fanny schemes to convince George to intervene in the newly re-burgeoning relationship between Eugene and his mother, and the results are tragic for all involved. Aunt Fanny and George are a pair of lost souls, George especially is filled with impudence yet doesn't really understand why things happen around him the way they do, only that they don't happen the way he wishes. Visually, there aren't alot of films as stunning and on as many different levels as this. It's a unique vision and just about as daring a film (visually) as has ever been made. Welles original edit of the film has been lost and bastardized through the years, and the film's final tone of forgiveness rings somewhat at odds with the rest of the film's general feel. However unfortunate this situation may be, it matters little when every frame of the Magnificent Ambersons is a work of art in it's own right.
I'd love to Welles' actual version of this, becuase this pretty boring.
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