The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  10 July 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 16,147 users  
Reviews: 102 user | 71 critic

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


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(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


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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?


Orson Welles had problems with Stanley Cortez from the beginning of the picture. Cortez had great difficulty meeting Welles's image of the film. One sequence Welles wanted, a long point of view shot as George walks through the now empty mansion, took him four days to set up. Welles was so unhappy that he ended up scrapping the shot. Toward the end of production, he demoted Cortez to shooting second-unit work and had his assistant, Harry Wild, take over. 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, ...
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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 »


String Quintet In E, Op. 13 No. 5: Minuet
Music by Luigi Boccherini
Played at the Ball
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User Reviews

The magnificent Orson Welles
24 July 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

One wonders what movie would have resulted if Orson Welles would have been able to get his own cut, as opposed to what RKO Radio decided to show to the world. In spite of what one sees on the screen, even a chopped up film by the studio and directed by Orson Welles is better than no Orson Welles, at all!

Booth Tarkington wrote a novel that reflected America's entrance in the industrial age. Mr. Tarkington being a good friend of Mr. Welles' father, must have been an early influence in young Orson. We can see that in a way, both men were interested in the changes America went through in the XIX century.

"The Magnificent Ambersons" presents the saga of a prominent family in their spiral downfall. At the same time, Eugene Morgan, a revolutionary inventor is laughed at because of the contraption that will change the face of the country: the automobile. While the Ambersons lose their fortune, Eugene Morgan makes his own. In the end, it is sad to see how Morgan with all his money couldn't have Isabel, the love of his life, or his daughter, for that matter, couldn't make the snobbish Georgie care enough for her.

What Orson Welles can't be fault on is the impeccable performances he got out of most of the Mercury Group. Joseph Cotten, as always, projects an elegant figure as Eugene. The gorgeous Dolores Costello is seen in all her beauty. The young Anne Baxter was perfect as Lucy. Ray Collins and Richard Bennett also do an outstanding job, as well as young Tim Holt. The best of all is Agnes Moorehead, who makes Fanny a creation. Ms. Moorehead is in fact a luminous presence in all her scenes in the movie.

Robert Wise, who went to become a film director, is credited with the original editing, although two others were not credited, who could have been instrumental in what RKO did to the picture, Mark Robson and Jack Moss. The original costumes by Edward Stevenson are incredible.

One could only hope that somewhere, hidden in a vault, a director's copy will be found as Orson Welles directed it and then, hopefully, we shall see the marvelous movie Orson Welles intended to make.

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This is the worst movie I've seen in many years. HomerDPoe
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