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The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 10 July 1942 (USA)
The spoiled young heir to the decaying Amberson fortune comes between his widowed mother and the man she has always loved.

Directors:

Orson Welles, Fred Fleck (uncredited) | 1 more credit »

Writers:

Booth Tarkington (from the novel by), Orson Welles (script writer)

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Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins. See more awards »

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Joseph Cotten ... Eugene Morgan
Dolores Costello ... Isabel Amberson Minafer
Anne Baxter ... Lucy Morgan
Tim Holt ... George Minafer
Agnes Moorehead ... Fanny Minafer
Ray Collins ... Jack Amberson
Erskine Sanford ... Roger Bronson
Richard Bennett ... Major Amberson
Orson Welles ... Narrator (voice)
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Storyline

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 <jao@jao.com>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

Orson Welles' Mercury Production of Booth Tarkington's Great Novel See more »

Genres:

Drama | Romance

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

10 July 1942 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Soberbia See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$850,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Mercury Productions See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (original cut) | (preview)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The re-cutting of this film caused a deep rift in Orson Welles' friendships with Robert Wise and Joseph Cotten. Cotten later wrote several letters of apology to Welles, and the two later reconciled. Welles and Wise, however, remained on acrimonious terms for some 42 years until Wise was invited to come to the stage by Gilbert Cates when the Directors Guild of America honored Welles with its Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984. The former rivals ended up shaking hands as the crowd rewarded them with a standing ovation. See more »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

[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 »

Alternate Versions

There are three alternate version to The Magnificent Ambersons, none exist any more:
  • the original version, Welles' first cut is the only one that has any type of record that exists. It was 132 minutes long. It included an extended Ball sequence. An extended sequence of Jack and George in the kitchen, a completely different ending, as well as other cuts too numerous to mention. The original last part of the movie was (in order): George and Jack at the Rail Station, George's walk home and comeuppance, Fanny at the boiler, Bronson's office, Eugene and Lucy in the garden, George in accident, Eugene hears of accident, Eugene visits Fanny in the Boarding house. The cutting continuity, which was recorded five days before the first preview, is included in the book, The Magnificent Ambersons- A Reconstruction.
  • The first preview audience saw the original cut for the most part. Welles ordered small cuts and one major cut prior to preview but no record of what they were exists. The movie ends the same way except the scene of Eugene and Lucy in the garden was dropped.
  • The second preview audience saw version that ran about 110 minutes. Twenty minutes of footage was scrapped and the ending went: George and Jack at the railroad station, Fanny's breakdown, Bronson's office, George's walk home, Eugene and Lucy in garden, George hit by car, Eugene hearing about accident, (shorter version of) Eugene visits Fanny in Boarding House.
  • When the previews still weren't to the studios satisfaction, the film was cut over and over, a new ending was filmed (not by Welles) and the film was finally released at its current run of 88 minutes.
See more »


Soundtracks

String Quintet In E, Op. 13 No. 5: Minuet
(uncredited)
Music by Luigi Boccherini
Played at the Ball
See more »

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User Reviews

Marvellous work, but sadly suffers from limited time
11 March 2003 | by BritishFilms1See all my reviews

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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