The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

Not Rated   |    |  Drama, Romance


The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) Poster

The spoiled young heir to the decaying Amberson fortune comes between his widowed mother and the man she has always loved.


7.7/10
22,568


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  • Orson Welles and Stanley Cortez in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  • Orson Welles and Richard Bennett in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  • Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  • Dolores Costello and Tim Holt in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  • Anne Baxter and Joseph Cotten in The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
  • The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

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Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


11 March 2003 | BritishFilms1
Marvellous work, but sadly suffers from limited time
This is the tale of a well-known and respected American family - "The Magnificent Ambersons" and their rise and fall. The movie is not bad at all, there are some superlative performances from stars and character players alike. However, it is a sad fact that this, Orson Wells second masterpiece, suffered from the scissors in the cutting room. Being an RKO/Mercury Theatre production, executives reduced the picture from a much-required 135 minutes to a satisfactory, but a speedy 88 minutes, therefore, not giving satisfactory time for the viewer to understand the masterpiece fully.

Now, for my review of the players. Joseph Cotten gives an irregular performance as the romantic lead, silent star Dolores Costello is very much underused, as is then very young Anne Baxter, who would could onto bigger stardom in the next decade. Stealing the acting honors throughout the production are Tim Holt with his superb portrayal of the spoiled brat heir-to-the-throne, so to speak and Agnes Moorehead as his Auntie, who put their plan into action to sabotage a relationship between the widowed Isbabelle Amberson and charmer Eugene Morgan.

Overall, lives up to it's expectations of success, but suffers due to limited screen time and a very confusing plot for audiences of our generation.

7/10

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Did You Know?

Trivia

The preview of the movie occurred a short time after Pearl Harbor. Because of this, most of the audience review cards stated that they didn't want to see a depressing movie, and that it should have more laughs and a happy ending. With Orson Welles out of the country, the production team had to make the cuts and changes without his input.


Quotes

Narrator: The magnificence of the Ambersons began in 1873. Their splendor lasted throughout all the years that saw their midland town spread and darken into a city. In that town, in those days, all the women who wore silk or velvet knew all the other women ...


Goofs

When Eugene and Lucy leave the Amberson mansion after the big party and drive away in the Morgan automobile, the top of the painted "trees" back drop can then be seen at the top of the Frame for most of the shot as they both drive away.


Crazy Credits

All of the credits except the RKO logo, the film's title and the copyright notice are recited orally (by Orson Welles) at the end of the film, not written out onscreen. As Welles recites the names of the production crew, we see such items as a motion picture camera when he says "Director of Photography," a pair of hands turning knobs as he says the words "Sound Recording By," etc.


Alternate Versions

From "Magnificent Obsession," a Vanity Fair article by David Kamp from April 2000: "On March 11, Wise sent a 132-minute composite print (a print with picture and soundtrack synchronized) to Rio for Welles to review. This is the version that scholars and Wellesophiles consider to be the 'real' Magnificent Ambersons. Curiously enough, the first blow against this version was dealt not by RKO but by Welles himself. Before he'd even received the composite print, he impulsively ordered Wise to cut 22 minutes from the middle of the film, mostly scenes concerning George Minafer's efforts to keep his mother and Eugene apart. Wise complied, and on March 17, 1942, The Magnificent Ambersons, in this form, had its first preview screening, in the Los Angeles suburb of Pomona. Sneak previews are a notoriously unreliable gauge of a film's worth and potential for success, and RKO did The Magnificent Ambersons a particular disservice by previewing it before an audience composed mostly of escapism-hungry teenagers, who had come to see the movie at the top of the bill, The Fleet's In, a feather-light wartime musical starring William Holden and Dorothy Lamour."


Soundtracks

The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo
(1892) (uncredited)
Music and Lyrics by
Fred Gilbert
Sung a cappella by Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter,
Tim Holt, Agnes Moorehead and Ray Collins

Storyline

Plot Summary


Genres

Drama | Romance

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