The Magnificent Ambersons

Watch The Magnificent Ambersons

  • NR
  • 1942
  • 1 hr 28 min
  • 7.6  (25,975)
  • 93

The Magnificent Ambersons is a 1942 drama film directed by the iconic Orson Welles. Adapted from a novel by Booth Tarkington, the movie stars Tim Holt, Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter, and Agnes Moorehead, among others. The film tells the story of the Amberson family, one of the wealthiest families in Indianapolis at the turn of the 20th century, and their decline as the world around them changes.

The movie opens with a narration that sets the stage for the story, describing the Amberson family's importance in early Indianapolis, its wealth and status, and the reputation of its members. The film then introduces us to Eugene Morgan (Joseph Cotten), a former suitor of Isabel Amberson (Dolores Costello), who returns to town after many years. Eugene, now a successful inventor and businessman, is still in love with Isabel, but she has married her cousin Wilbur Minafer (Don Dillaway), who is also a member of the Amberson family.

A love triangle then emerges between Eugene, Isabel, and Wilbur, causing tensions within the Amberson family. George Amberson Minafer (Tim Holt), the son of Isabel and Wilbur, is a spoiled and arrogant young man who is used to getting his way. He is jealous of Eugene and resents him for his attention to his mother.

As the story progresses, we see the decline of the Amberson family's fortunes. Eugene's business interests threaten the Amberson's legacy and George's attempts to prevent him and his mother from being together backfire, leading to tragedy.

The Magnificent Ambersons is a visual masterpiece, characterized by long takes and elaborate tracking shots that are signature elements of Welles' style. It also features an outstanding musical score by Bernard Herrmann, which complements the movie's elegant and refined atmosphere.

The film provides a biting critique of the American aristocracy at a time when their power and influence were declining in the face of social, economic, and technological change. The Ambersons, once the pinnacle of success and social status, are unable to adapt to these changes, ultimately leading to their downfall. In this sense, the movie reflects the larger societal struggles of the early 20th century, and its themes remain relevant today.

The acting in The Magnificent Ambersons is outstanding, particularly from Agnes Moorehead, who plays Fanny Minafer, Wilbur's sister, and George's aunt. Her performance as the meddling, bitter Fanny is unforgettable and earned her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress. Joseph Cotten also delivers a strong performance as Eugene Morgan, the former lover who returns to town to try to win back Isabel's heart.

Overall, The Magnificent Ambersons is a compelling drama that offers a thoughtful and nuanced portrayal of a family's decline amid a changing world. While it never achieved the critical acclaim and popular success of Welles' earlier film Citizen Kane, it remains a classic of American cinema and a must-see for any fan of the genre.

The Magnificent Ambersons is a 1942 drama with a runtime of 1 hour and 28 minutes. It has received outstanding reviews from critics and viewers, who have given it an IMDb score of 7.6 and a MetaScore of 93.

The Magnificent Ambersons
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  • Release Date
  • MPAA Rating
  • Runtime
    1 hr 28 min
  • Language
  • IMDB Rating
    7.6  (25,975)
  • Metascore