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 wacko aunt Fanny manage to sabotage the romance. A series of disasters befall the Ambersons and George, and he gets his comeuppance in the end. —TCM
The prodigy son of an inventor and a musician, Welles was well-versed in literature at an early age, particularly Shakespeare, and, through the unusual circumstances of his life (both of his parents died by the time he was 12, leaving him with an inheritance and not many family obligations), he found himself free to indulge his numerous interests, which included the theater. He was educated in private schools and traveled the world. He found it tougher to get onto the Broadway stage, and get a job with Katharine Cornell. He later became associated with John Houseman, and, together, the two of them set the New York theater afire during the 1930s with their work for the Federal Theatre Project, which led to the founding of the Mercury Theater. The Mercury Players later graduated to radio, and their 1938 “War of the Worlds” broadcast made history when thousands of listeners mistakenly believed aliens had landed on Earth. In 1940, Hollywood beckoned, and Welles and company went west to… read more
One of the most successful directors of the 1960s, when he became an efficient maker of epic-length pictures, Robert Wise is one of Hollywood’s few popularly recognized filmmakers. He joined RKO in the 1930s as a cutter and eventually became one of the studio’s top editors, working in this capacity on classics such as The Devil and Daniel Webster (1941), Citizen Kane (1941), and The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). He became a director with help from producer Val Lewton, who assigned Wise to finish Curse of the Cat People (1944), a B-movie that had fallen behind schedule, and the resulting picture proved extremely haunting and enduring. Wise later directed The Body Snatcher (1945) for Lewton, but after the producer left RKO, he found himself locked into B-movies. His 1948 psychological Western Blood on The Moon, starring Robert Mitchum, and the acclaimed boxing drama The Set-Up (1949) were the only two important pictures that Wise got to do during his last four years at the studio. Wise… read more
With "Ambersons," Orson Welles proves once again why he's the master of this kind of Gothic melodrama: juxtaposing shadowy, expressionist photography with performances that run the gamut from the naturalistic Joseph Cotton to an over-the-top Anges Moorehead. The film belongs to that unique category of pictures which wax nostalgic for an era its creator never experienced much of himself - in this case, the Midwest before the dawn of the automobile - which provides "Ambersons" with its own particular aura of melancholy. Though we may only be able to view this movie in tatters, as a shade of what it could have been, when you have Orson Welles working at the height of his creative powers that turns out to be more than enough.
Fantastic film that flies by in a short time. The dialogue, photography, and screenplay are all superb, and nearly every scene is economical and just flat out beautiful. Like many have said, it was mercilessly edited by the Studio while Welles was filming elsewhere. Doesn't matter though, what remains is still better than any other film of it's time. Favorite Scene? Anything with Agnes Moorehead! Team Aunt Minnie!
A joshing jab at the great auteur in the English adaptation of Red Rackham’s Treasure.
The Bernard Herrmann centennial is the occasion for a two-week, 22-film retrospective.
Also: Michael Sragow semi-retires, ohn Calley dies and Slate binges on Welles and Soderbergh.
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Whatever is left in this film that represents Welles’ vision is hard to tell, but what is available in the 88 minute released version on Warner DVD is still very much worth viewing. Orson Welles had… read review