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      The Magnificent Ambersons

      Now Playing 1h 28m Drama List
      89% Tomatometer 45 Reviews 84% Audience Score 5,000+ Ratings Orson Welles' acclaimed drama follows two generations in a well-to-do Indianapolis family. Isabel Amberson receives a proposal from dashing Eugene (Joseph Cotten), but opts instead to marry boring Wilbur. Time passes, and Wilbur and Isabel's only son, George (Tim Holt), is loathed as a controlling figure in the town. When Wilbur dies, Eugene again proposes to Isabel, but George threatens the union. As George in turn courts the woman he wants to marry, a string of tragedies befalls the family. Read More Read Less Now in Theaters Now Playing Buy Tickets

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      The Magnificent Ambersons

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      Critics Consensus

      Assembled with bold visual craft and penetrating insight, The Magnificent Ambersons further establishes writer-director Orson Welles as a generational talent.

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      Critics Reviews

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      Kevin Maher Times (UK) Film snobs like to say that this, the second feature from Orson Welles, is even better than Citizen Kane. That's a stretch, but it's certainly exquisitely beautiful film-making - there are frames in there to die for. Rated: 5/5 Dec 13, 2019 Full Review Pauline Kael New Yorker Even in this truncated form it's amazing and memorable. Jan 5, 2015 Full Review TIME Magazine Ambersons is not another Citizen Kane, but it is good enough to remove Director Welles for keeps from the novice or one-picture-prodigy class. Mar 12, 2013 Full Review Dave Giannini InSession Film Despite its faults, The Magnificent Ambersons stands tall as an example of great filmmaking. The performances, Welles’s direction, and the production design make this picture worth your viewing. Feb 20, 2024 Full Review André Bazin L'Écran Français After the neorealistic revolution of Citizen Kane's cinematographic achievement, then, The Magnificent Ambersons becomes the consecration, in some sort of stripped-down and ultimately classical way, of a new mode of screen narration. Dec 8, 2021 Full Review Nicholas Bell IONCINEMA.com The Magnificent Ambersons is a deliciously photographed time capsule, with Albert S. D'Agostino's impressive set designs belying the craftsmanship and detail which went into recreating turn-of-the-century Indianapolis. Rated: 4/5 Aug 18, 2020 Full Review Read all reviews

      Audience Reviews

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      Alec B Obviously its compromised, but you can see what Welles was trying to do. Best to ignore the studio made happy ending and just focus on the good stuff that precedes it even if those scene are truncated. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 01/08/24 Full Review John E The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) was written, produced, and directed by Orson Welles and is based on the 1918 Booth Tarkington novel of the same name. The Ambersons are the wealthiest family in Indianapolis at the end of the 19th century. Young Isabel Amberson (Dolores Costello) has been courted for some time by Eugene Morgan (Joseph Cotton), but after he accidently embarrasses her because of a public mishap, Isabel childishly decides that she will marry Wilbur Minafer instead. She doesn't love Wilbur and their marriage is a dull routine, so Isabel channels all her time and devotion into their one child, George. George grows up being given anything he wants and he soon morphs from an annoying child into an extremely spoiled and self-centered young man (Tim Holt). George is universally disliked throughout the town, and most residents look forward to him one day getting his comeuppance. It's now the early 1900's and during a large gala held at the Amberson home, George meets a young lady named Lucy (Anne Baxter) who is visiting from out of town. He becomes smitten with her until he learns that her father was his mother's former beau, Eugene Morgan, who is now a widower. Soon Wilbur Minafer will lose a substantial amount of the family fortune through poor investments and then he dies. Eugene and Isabel find their former romance rekindling, much to the disdain of Wilber's sister Fanny (Agnes Moorehead). Fanny is what that era referred to as a spinster, and she had hoped to woo Eugene for herself. Meanwhile, George continues to try and win over Lucy. In a nutshell, George despises Eugene's affections for his mother, and forces her to decide between them. She chooses her son and abandons her budding second romance. Meanwhile Lucy rejects George completely, considering him a man with no ambition or character. Isabel dies, broken hearted and George and Fanny discover that almost the entire Amberson fortune has been lost. They will soon be homeless and George will be forced to find a job. A short time later, he is injured in an automobile accident. This is ironic, because it was investments into the "horseless carriages" that provided Eugene his own fortune and led to much of the demise of the Amberson's wealth. I was disappointed that this tale wraps up with an unsatisfying conclusion (I won't spoil) that dissipates the satisfaction the viewer wants from watching George's silver spoon existence come to an end. There's no real conflict in the story and it just seems to build upon the same themes over and over. It turns out that the ending of the film was forced by the studio, who reshot it when Orson Welles was out of the country. Welles is said to have hated how his original concept was mangled without his consent or input. The acting is superb, with Agnes Moorehead receiving a Best Supporting Actress nod. The cinematography and sets were grand and the story rife with illustrations of classism at the turn of the century. That said, the "it still all works out" finale just made the Ambersons a little less magnificent. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 06/11/23 Full Review Thomas V I'm probably in the minority here, but compared to his other great works, this one is meh. Visually this is good for sure, but RKO's meddling makes the film feel clunky and rushed at the end, and the rewritten ending is no improvement over what was intended. As for Aunt Fanny, I'm not sure how I feel. Apparently the test audiences laughed at her scenes and the studio cut her time way back, but then she won acclaim for the performance. What's in the film seems kind of overwrought to me, but the does have some great moments. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 01/15/23 Full Review red t Not Bad at All but Seriously Flawed. The acting at the start feels generic and stale but in the second half the quality really picks up in terms of performance. I was really surprised how much better the acting got. Overall the acting was good. The highlight of this film is easily the incredible cinematography. Every shot is exquisite and a Tour De France of camera work. Long Takes, Shadow Use, Zoom Ins, Deep Focus, and many more. It all gives it a very sophisticated feel and never feels showy. The camerawork does not feel like a 40's film at all it feels super modern which surprised me. There isn't much in way of music to speak of here but it was kind of generic and forgettable when used. The pacing really struggled in the first act for me but picked up very well in the 2nd half. However the biggest flaw here is the Editing. My goodness....I could tell the reason I was having trouble understanding the first act was because it felt we were jumping around all over the place because stuff was missing. The ending also felt very tacked on and didn't fit the dark tone of this film and was very anti climatic. Also George was not a very likeable character and I felt like scenes were missing that would've helped with understanding him better and giving the film much more focus in the first half. I think if Orson Welles had narrated more of the film it would've made a significant difference for me because it was very hard to follow the first half. But even still that wouldn't fix the ending where we don't even get to see George & Mr. Morgan reconcile which baffled me. (I'm 99.99% certain It must have been a reshoot because it certainly felt like it). The second half up until the ending is very strong I will say and got me invested in the internal struggle. Overall this was a very flawed but enjoyable watch. I would not call this a classic but it certainly is above average. I would only recommend this for die hard Orson Welles fans. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 03/31/23 Full Review Audience Member Many are drawn to "The Magnificent Amberson's" out of curiosity arising from its status as a tragically mangled film, yet its sweeping, visionary nature is undeniably evident despite the film's limitations. We are tantalized by the possibility that the greatness of the original conception of Ambersons may theoretically have outshone "Citizen Kane," the most acclaimed film in history. None of the fortunate few to have seen that original version of the film are alive to testify to that sentiment, but my own feelings are decidedly clear: Amberson's undoubtedly had the makings of a great film, but its ostensible flaws extend beyond the overzealous excision of valuable footage. In its heightened, dramatic style, Ambersons demonstrates the uninhibited passion that we've come to love about Welles' work, yet it's tempting to think that its vigor at times oversteps the mark. While commonly lauded by critics, Agnes Moorehead's performance in particular as the aggrieved spinster is so shrill and demonstrative that the hysterics become grating and unconvincing, while the depiction of George's mother is so saccharine that we inevitably lose empathy for the character. Despite the film's rough edges and other assorted drawbacks, Ambersons stuns us with a stirring portrait of a lost world, while mercilessly teasing us with the implications of what might have been. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/14/23 Full Review Audience Member I've read all kinds of accounts about who's responsible for "bad editing" or "reshoots" on this, but the bottom line is it's a hopeless Snooze Fest! I give Zero Eff's about any of these characters and their melodramatic "problems." Rated 1 out of 5 stars 01/12/23 Full Review Read all reviews Post a rating

      Cast & Crew

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      Movie Info

      Synopsis Orson Welles' acclaimed drama follows two generations in a well-to-do Indianapolis family. Isabel Amberson receives a proposal from dashing Eugene (Joseph Cotten), but opts instead to marry boring Wilbur. Time passes, and Wilbur and Isabel's only son, George (Tim Holt), is loathed as a controlling figure in the town. When Wilbur dies, Eugene again proposes to Isabel, but George threatens the union. As George in turn courts the woman he wants to marry, a string of tragedies befalls the family.
      Director
      Orson Welles
      Producer
      Orson Welles
      Screenwriter
      Orson Welles
      Distributor
      Criterion Collection, RKO Radio Pictures
      Production Co
      Mercury Productions, RKO Radio Pictures Inc.
      Genre
      Drama
      Original Language
      English
      Release Date (Theaters)
      Jul 10, 1942, Wide
      Release Date (Streaming)
      Apr 1, 2012
      Runtime
      1h 28m
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