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The Magnificent Ambersons (2002)

The spoiled rotten and utterly unlikable rich kid George Amberson becomes horrified when his recently widowed mother rekindles her relationship with the wealthy Eugene Morgan, who she left ... See full summary »


Alfonso Arau


Booth Tarkington (novel), Orson Welles

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Cast overview, first billed only:
Madeleine Stowe ... Isabel Amberson Minafer
Bruce Greenwood ... Eugene Morgan
Jonathan Rhys Meyers ... George Amberson Minafer
Gretchen Mol ... Lucy Morgan
Jennifer Tilly ... Fanny Minafer
William Hootkins ... Uncle George
Dina Merrill ... Mrs. Johnson (as Dina Merrill-Hartley)
James Cromwell ... Major Amberson
Keith Allen Keith Allen ... George (Age 9)
Jane Brennan Jane Brennan ... Nurse
Laura Brennan Laura Brennan ... Lucy's Friend #2
Kelly Campbell ... Lucy's Companion
Michael Devaney Michael Devaney ... Eugene's Secretary
Mairead Devlin Mairead Devlin ... Nurse
Bernard Deegan Bernard Deegan ... Youth


The spoiled rotten and utterly unlikable rich kid George Amberson becomes horrified when his recently widowed mother rekindles her relationship with the wealthy Eugene Morgan, who she left decades earlier in order to marry George's father. As George struggles to sabotage his mother's new romance, he must deal with his own romantic feelings for Morgan's daughter and the consequences of his meddling as his once great family falls into ruin due to his machinations... Written by Jesse Baker

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Release Date:

13 January 2002 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

A Queda do Poder See more »


Box Office


$16,000,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


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Did You Know?


Was originally to be directed by veteran director Herbert Ross, but heart problems led to his exiting the film in early 2001. He never directed again and late in 2001 he died of congestive heart failure. See more »


During George and Lucy's sleigh ride in town, George's lips frequently do not match what he's saying. See more »


George Amberson Minafer: Lucy, I'm going to be gone for a very long time!
Lucy Morgan: [seeming cheerful] How long?
George Amberson Minafer: I don't know, I might never come back! My mother and I are going on a trip around the world.
Lucy Morgan: Why that sound like great fun!
George Amberson Minafer: But Lucy, I might never see you again!
See more »


Version of Pampered Youth (1925) See more »


O Mio Bambino Caro (Oh My Beloved Father)
from the opera "Gianni" Schicchi
Music by Giacomo Puccini
Librettist: Giovacchino Forzano
[Played while Isabel Minafer Amberson awaits Morgan's arrival to go motoring]
See more »

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User Reviews

Staggeringly bad TV movie is an insult to Tarkington & to Welles
24 November 2012 | by fwmurnauSee all my reviews

This clumsy catastrophe is NOT made from Orson Welles' screenplay for his genius 1942 version, though it uses bits of it. The creators of this remake do everything wrong. The unforgettable prologue and narration are dropped entirely, important scenes are cut to make room for stupid new ones, others are shuffled and rewritten so they no longer make sense, and banal, foolish dialog is added.

Tarkington's story is deeply grounded in a particular time and place: a century ago in the American midwest. Welles, a midwesterner born in 1915, knew the place and the people well. This version's Mexican director, Alfonso Arau, shows so little understanding of his characters and story, you wonder if he's ever met an American.

Arau's choice of an isolated Irish country house to stand in for the Ambersons' urban mansion, located near the downtown of a city based on Tarkington's native Indianapolis, shows how clueless he is. That's like filming HUCKLEBERRY FINN in Vienna, with the Danube as the Mississippi.

Every choice is as wrong as the mansion. There is no sense of place or period. All of the leads are grossly miscast. The speech, the manners, the attitudes, the tone, the bad acting, the cheap suggestions of incest ... nothing in this remake rings true.

For George Minafer, the most American of protagonists, Arau weirdly goes to Ireland again, casting the amateurish Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who overacts like crazy in a phony, inappropriately-contemporary accent. Where Tim Holt was subtle and low-key, Rhys Meyers shouts, leaps about, and twists his pretty lips into sneers and scowls worthy of a circus clown.

Granted, the 1942 cast was perfection. Arau's casting makes you wonder what he was smoking. Madeleine Stowe is nothing like Isabel, but she comes off better than most of the others. Morgan is the bland Bruce Greenwood, whose wrongness reminds one how profoundly sensitive and right Joseph Cotton was in the part. Major Amberson looks and talks like an ex-hippie; and the frail, sexless Wilbur is played by a handsome, hearty actor who has way more sex appeal than Greenwood, which makes nonsense of the love triangle.

In the crucial role of Fanny -- the prim, plain-faced, repressed spinster aunt -- Arau casts (I am not making this up!) the vulgar, sexy Jennifer Tilly. Agnes Moorhead, heartbreakingly memorable in the Welles version, is rolling in her grave.

When Arau tries to get arty, he falls right on his face ... turning George's birth into a 1960s acid trip and adding an absurd scene to the ball sequence, where Morgan waltzes with Isabel in the snow while two butlers try to hold parasols over their heads. This sub-Fellini touch is so idiotic, like much of the movie, it becomes unintentionally funny.

Blunder piles on blunder. Isabel, Fanny, and George all appear to have collagen-injected lips, which sums up director Arau's apparent belief that Indiana in 1900 was exactly like Beverly Hills today. The dancers at the ball do the tango (!) as if the story's set in Buenos Aires. Nothing here seems to be happening in the United States, let alone Indiana.

If you know the novel or Welles' flawless, if studio-mangled, adaptation, you will shake your head in amazement: how could this remake turn such wonderful material into such an embarrassing train wreck for all concerned?

PLEASE don't let this inept, tone-deaf mess be your only acquaintance with THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS. See the brilliantly written and directed, perfectly acted Welles version or read Tarkington's masterful Pulitzer Prize-winning novel.

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