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The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  10 July 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 15,968 users  
Reviews: 102 user | 70 critic

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


, (uncredited) , 1 more credit »


(from the novel by), (script writer), 2 more credits »
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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 2 wins. See more awards »
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Complete credited cast:
Erskine Sanford ...
Roger Bronson
Richard Bennett ...
Narrator (voice)


The young, handsome, but somewhat wild Eugene Morgan wants to marry Isabel Amberson, daughter of a rich upper-class family, but she instead marries dull and steady Wilbur Minafer. Their only child, George, grows up a spoiled brat. Years later, Eugene comes back, now a mature widower and a successful automobile maker. After Wilbur dies, Eugene again asks Isabel to marry him, and she is receptive. But George resents the attentions paid to his mother, and he and his whacko aunt Fanny manage to sabotage the romance. A series of disasters befall the Ambersons and George, and he gets his come-uppance in the end. Written by John Oswalt <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Real life screened more daringly than it's ever been before! See more »


Drama | Romance


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

10 July 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Soberbia  »

Box Office


$850,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (original cut) | (preview)

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


It took 12 days to perfect the snow effects and get the actors' breath to appear just right for the camera. Then filming took longer than expected because the cold kept causing equipment problems. Everybody except Orson Welles contracted head colds from working on the sequence. Ray Collins lost several days when he came down with pneumonia. See more »


In scene where Lucy and George say goodbye while walking down the street, Lucy's hair is pulled behind her neck. In closeup, as she watches George leave, her hair is in ringlets hanging in front of shoulders, then reverts to original hairdo when she goes into pharmacy. See more »


[first lines]
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 who wore silk or velvet, and everybody knew everybody else's family horse and carriage. The only public conveyance was the streetcar. A lady could whistle to it from an upstairs window, and the car would halt at once and wait for her, ...
See more »

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. See more »


Edited into Histoire(s) du cinéma: Une histoire seule (1989) See more »


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
See more »

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User Reviews

Excellent Cast, Characters, Setting, & Story
10 July 2001 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

With an excellent cast, interesting characters and setting, and a thought-provoking story, dramatic cinema does not get much better than "The Magnificent Ambersons". No one will ever know what it would have been like if Orson Welles' original version had been allowed to stand as it was, but what is left is still extremely good despite the missing portions.

The story of the leading residents in a turn-of-the-century town combines some interesting themes. The snobbishness of the Ambersons, and its effects on their lives and others' lives, is illustrated alongside the ways that increasing industrialization is changing everyone's lives. The period setting is also quite interesting in its own right, and very nicely done. The characters are all convincing and well-defined, and are matched nicely with fine performers who bring them to life convincingly. Welles regulars Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead are especially good.

The only real disappointment in the movie is that, due to all the cuts made against Welles' wishes, there are times when it is obvious that a scene or information is missing, since characters at times refer to events that are not quite familiar to the audience. It is fortunate that the acting and writing are good enough to help us fill in the blanks to some degree, but it is really too bad that we can never see the whole picture.

As it stands, this is a fine film filled with good scenes and memorable characters, and a movie that will be much appreciated by fans of classic cinema.

16 of 21 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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