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 <firstname.lastname@example.org>
In the absence of Orson Welles, RKO cut 50 minutes from the original film - which was later destroyed - ostensibly to free up vault space at the studio. However, there was also conjecture that this was done to prevent Welles from attempting to make any changes to what was left of his film. The RKO-mandated re-editing had been left in the hands of two men: Robert Wise and studio rep Jack Moss. A phone was put into Moss' office that fed directly to Welles' hotel room in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. According to future director Cy Endfield, who was working with Moss at the time, Moss would simply not answer the phone when it rang, suspecting it was Welles with his latest batch of comments and suggestions for the re-edit. Similarly, when Moss received lengthy telegrams from Welles with more suggestions and thoughts, he would throw them away. See more »
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. See more »
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 »
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 »
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." See more »
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.
19 of 26 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this