The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

Approved  |   |  Drama, Romance  |  10 July 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.9/10 from 16,157 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?


Sets were re-used by Val Lewton in Cat People (1942) and The Curse of the Cat People (1944) to help save production costs resulting from a ridiculously small budget. See more »


Towards end of long tracking shot with George and Lucy in horse-drawn carriage, portion of rear end of camera car and some sort of filmmaking equipment briefly enters left side of frame. 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 »


Referenced in Me and Orson Welles (2008) 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

The Most Beautful American Movie Ever Made
26 February 2005 | by (NY, NY) – See all my reviews

If one could have a single wish regarding movie history, surely it would be the rediscovery of the nearly one hour cut out of what seem to be all existing prints of this! Even with the tampering, it is a gorgeous movie. To me, it is superior to "Citizen Kane." Wells himself was partially at fault for its being butchered: Had he stayed in the United States and not pursued a new, eventually unfulfilled dream, he surely could have fought RKO.

The narration by Welles at the beginning is like the dream storytelling of any child or young person. The words so beautiful, the tones so calm and mellifluous! And the final credits, in which he reads the crew and then the cast, are astonishingly moving.

In between is a touching story that is acted and filmed with rare integrity. Dolores Costello is a haunting presence. Agnes Moorhead, as the Neurotic aunt, gives a performance rarely equaled in movie history.

Stanley Cortez was cinematographer for three great movies (and many other fine ones): "The Magnificent Ambersons," "Night of the Hunter," and "The Naked Kiss." Each relies strongly on its look and Cortez created three very different, memorable canvases.

One fan hope against hope that the lost footage turns up in someone's basement, unlikely as that is. Even so, once seen this movie is never forgotten.

57 of 70 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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