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The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

Not Rated | | Drama, Romance | 10 July 1942 (USA)
Trailer
2:05 | Trailer
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)
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:

The Magnificent Ambersons 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

For the kitchen scene in which George and Uncle Jack tease Fanny about her infatuation with Eugene Morgan, Orson Welles rehearsed the actors for five days. He did not write a word of the scene. Instead, he discussed each character's background with the actors and then asked them to improvise it as the camera rolled. The four minute plus scene plays out in a single take. See more »

Goofs

In the law office, as George is telling Mr. Bronson he can't take the job there, Mr. Bronson refers to him as 'Jack' ("I got her in that headlight business, Jack"). 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 »

Connections

Referenced in Budd Boetticher: An American Original (2005) See more »

Soundtracks

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

Cinema at its purest.
28 February 2003 | by marcus-98See all my reviews

In many way this is a more brillant film than Kane. Kane was technically advanced, but somewhat distant. This is a much more intimate story. The romance between Eugene and Isabele is one of the most wonderful tales of unrequinted love ever put on film. I especially love the opening sequence which introduces us to the life -styles and habits of the Ambersons. I like the way Wells dwells on their array of evening wear, summer wear etc... He creates a great sense of calmness in a timeless era.

Agnes Moorehead is incredible in the role of Fanny. She has to scream for attension every time, like her character in the film. Tim Holt is great as a young Orson Wells (who was still young at the time). This spoilt brat was I'm sure very similar to Wells, or so he'd have us believe.

Obivously we all know what happened to the final cut. It was, and probably still is the greatest crime in cinema history. Its like painting a moustache on the Mona Lisa. At the end of this version when Eugene and Fanny are walking off into the sunset, and Eugene looks down at Fanny and says that he was "true to his own dear love" (meaning Fanny), its so absurd. Its the worst tacked-on ending I've ever seen. Eugene was never in love with Fanny, it was always Isabele, but Fanny loved Eugene. Hollywood made a joke of it. The Amberson family had finally got their comeuppance only for hollywood to decide it was too grim, and put on an ending that looked like ot came from another movie.

Initally it was such a piece of genius from Wells to film a story about the downfall of a family rather than their or rise to power, to tell the story in reverse.

Its so sad that we can never see the real version. I really feel that we are missing out on what could have been the greatest film ever made.


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