The Magnificent Ambersons Blu-ray Review (Criterion)

Criterion’s new disc release is simply magnificent. 5 Stars

The second film directed by Orson Welles, The Magnificent Ambersons is perhaps better known today for what’s not in it than for what is. While Welles enjoyed complete freedom making his debut film, Citizen Kane, he faced more constraints working on Ambersons, and it was taken away from him and re-edited before he could complete it. What remains is something less than what Welles had intended, but is still fascinating nonetheless.

The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)
Released: 10 Jul 1942
Rated: NOT RATED
Runtime: 88 min
Director: Orson Welles, Fred Fleck, Robert Wise
Genre: Drama, Romance
Cast: Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter, Tim Holt
Writer(s): Booth Tarkington (from the novel by), Orson Welles (script writer)
Plot: The spoiled young heir to the decaying Amberson fortune comes between his widowed mother and the man she has always loved.
IMDB rating: 7.9
MetaScore: 93

Disc Information
Studio: Criterion
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English PCM 1.0 (Mono)
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: Not Rated
Run Time: 1 Hr. 28 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: Dikipak
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 11/27/2018
MSRP: $39.95

The Production: 3.5/5

Watching The Magnificent Ambersons through the lens of “what if,” there’s undoubtedly a powerful film buried in there, a film about changing times, of love and loss, of those who cling so hard to what they have that they can’t tell that it’s slipping through their fingers. Though the story is set at the beginning of the 20th century, writer-director Orson Welles is shooting for something bigger than a mere period piece; it’s clear that his intentions are nothing less than examining how a society changes and progresses, and that the specific turn of the century setting is just the canvas that Welles is using to paint a more universal picture. It’s well known that RKO, the studio which had given Welles so much freedom when he made Citizen Kane, yanked this film away from him while it was still being edited. The version that survives today is missing somewhere around forty minutes of material, mostly from the third act. When RKO took over editing the film, they also commissioned a new ending, a happy one which sits oddly at the end of what’s mostly a very downbeat film.

Someone once said that if you take a long film and cut pieces out of it, you don’t wind up with a shorter film; you simply end up with a long film that has holes in it. That description fits The Magnificent Ambersons perfectly. While the film runs for only a brief 88 minutes, those minutes have a way of crawling by. Pacing is wildly uneven, and character development is frequently shortchanged. The film appears more confusing than it actually is as a result of all of the trimming. What does remain is the story of George Amberson Minafer (Tim Holt), the last in a line of Ambersons at the turn of the century, in a time where the family’s wealth and social prominence are fading, in part because the family scoffed at, rather than preparing for, the invention of the automobile and the industrialization of their city. But George still thinks of himself as rich and pampered, doted on by his mother Isabel (Dolores Costello) and Aunt Fanny (Agnes Moorehead). Though George’s father has passed away, George strongly disapproves of his mother’s courtship with Eugene Morgan (Joseph Cotton), though George has no issue with courting Eugene’s daughter Lucy (Anne Baxter). George’s arrogance and unjustified sense of superiority ultimately serves to doom what remains of his family to unhappiness… at least, until the RKO-mandated happy ending appears from left field.

While what’s left of The Magnificent Ambersons is somewhat unsatisfying as a dramatic whole, there are still individual moments and sequences which showcase Welles’ signature style. The best of these is a whimsical and witty extended prologue which opens the film, allowing Welles to establish the background for his characters and their city. The montages that comprise this prologue are elegant, cinematically literate and emotionally endearing. If nothing else, The Magnificent Ambersons is worth seeing just for its opening. While the rest of the film is unable to match the exuberance of the opening, individual moments often play better than the cumulative whole.

Video: 4/5

3D Rating: NA

The Magnificent Ambersons is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.37:1. According to the liner notes, the original camera negative no longer survives; this transfer was sourced from a nitrate fine grain held by the Museum of Modern Art. The picture quality is mostly good, with the occasional short scene or sequence that can appear to drop in quality. The film is general stable and free of dirt and debris; contrast and detail are not always as good as hoped for, but consistent with the look of a transfer not taken from original elements. There are moments that are good enough to rate a 4.5, as well as some moments that might score a 3, but the vast majority is consistently good if unspectacular. None of these quibbles take away from the beauty or intent of Welles’ compositions.

Audio: 4/5

The film’s monaural audio is presented in an uncompressed PCM 1.0 track. Like the video, the audio quality is less than perfect, but more than good enough to complement what’s onscreen. Dialogue is very clear and easy to discern, even in sequences where it is layered or when characters try to talk over each other. There is some occasional hiss, but nothing terribly distracting.

Special Features: 5/5

Audio Commentary by Robert L. Carringer – This commentary has been carried over from the Criterion laserdiscs. It’s very dry and academic, but includes vital information about the cuts made to the film by RKO.

Audio Commentary by James Naremore and Jonathan Rosenbaum – This commentary was newly recorded for the Blu-ray and is an excellent listen; Naremore and Rosenbaum have good chemistry and are able to present a lot of information in a fun fashion.

A Dangerous Nostalgia: Simon Callow on The Magnificent Ambersons (25:58, HD) – A newly recorded interview with Welles’ biographer.

The Cinematographers (15:40, HD) – Francois Thomas analyzes the film’s cinematography, comparing material shot by the credited cinematographer Stanley Cortez with material contributed by additional cinematographers that went uncredited.

Orson Welles and Dick Cavett (36:34, upscaled from SD) – A delightful May 14, 1970 appearance by Orson Welles on The Dick Cavett Show; Jack Lemmon was also a guest on the show that evening and appears throughout.

Joseph McBride on The Magnificent Ambersons (28:54, HD) – The film historian offers background information and analysis on the film. While McBride is frequently dry, he has a wealth of information to offer.

Graceful Symmetries: Welles’s Long Version of The Magnificent Ambersons and Bernard Herrmann’s Score (18:47, HD) Scholar Christopher Husted examines the score by Bernard Herrmann; like the film itself, Herrmann’s score was altered by RKO and Herrmann asked for his credit to be removed from the film.

Pampered Youth (28:05, HD) An extended excerpt from a 1925 silent adaptation of The Magnificent Ambersons. It is presented without any musical accompaniment.

Peter Bogdanovich Interviews (36:00, audio only) – Excerpts from Bogdanovich’s interviews with Welles, which would eventually be used for the book This Is Orson Welles.

AFI Welles Symposium (29:46, audio only) – Excerpts from a 1978 symposium featuring former Mercury Theatre collaborators Richard Wilson, James G. Stewart and Jeanette Nolan.

Seventeen Radio Play (1:00:04, audio only) – Mercury Theatre’s 1938 radio play of Seventeen adapted from a novel by Booth Tarkington, the same author who wrote the novel upon which The Magnificent Ambersons was based.

The Magnificent Ambersons Radio Play (55:42, audio only) – Mercury Theatre’s 1939 radio play of The Magnificent Ambersons.

Trailer (2:06, HD) – Though the trailer survives in less than pristine condition, it does a respectable job of setting up the film.

Booklet – Bound together to resemble an old screenplay, the booklet contains essays from Molly Haskell, Luc Sante, Geoffrey O’Brien, Farran Smith Heme and Jonathan Lethem, as well as an excerpt from Welles’ unfinished memoir.

Overall: 5/5

The Magnificent Ambersons is one of the great “what if” stories in cinema history. While the film had the potential to be another masterpiece from writer-director Orson Welles, the film was taken from his control before he could complete it, and all that survives is RKO’s butchered version. Though the film itself remains a frustrating case of “it is what it is,” Criterion has created a special edition of incredible value, thanks to the inclusion of a large quantity of very high quality bonus material. Criterion has hit a home run with this tremendous release.

Published by

Josh Steinberg

editor,member

49 Comments

  1. Nice review, Josh. Pampered Youth (1925) was the first adaptation of Booth Tarkington's novel and like its successor, originally an exceptional film. Also like Welles' film, it now only survives in its truncated version, having been butchered by more than half for a 1927 reissue.

    It's such a pity that Criterion, rather than porting over the 28-minute silent excerpt from their Ambersons LaserDisc. didn't transfer the entire remaining 33 minutes and give it a simple piano score, especially as no one else looks likely to do so.

  2. Wow. Personally, I would suggest that you rewatch this several more times. Ambersons was regularly rated as one of the best films ever even in this cut. I think every bit of it is beautiful. Maybe it’s not exactly what Welles intended, but tbe Venus de milo was butchered too.

  3. JoeDoakes

    Wow. Personally, I would suggest that you rewatch this several more times. Ambersons was regularly rated as one of the best films ever even in this cut. I think every bit of it is beautiful. Maybe it’s not exactly what Welles intended, but tbe Venus de milo was butchered too.

    Hhmm…I am not so certain of this. I love Welles but in its surviving form this is not one of his better pictures. Yes, like you I love watching this film and there is plenty that is good in it…where you obviously see and feel Orson's fingers at work…but the ending is utter rubbish and does not fit the film as Josh states. I agree with Josh that it is frustrating watch. Successive viewings I think just make me long to see Orson's version and makes this…at least to me…one of his least enjoyable films to sit through. I mean I love parts of it. I love seeing what he did and thinking about where he was trying to go with this but each time I reach the end of this film I feel like I want to smash something.

    I love the film for Welles' work on it, this Criterion disc is a must have, and this film is, as a piece of film history, both influential and a must watch…but one of the best film's ever? In this 88 minute intentional destruction of what Orson set out to do?

    No, I would not call it one of the best films ever by a long shot. Could it have been if they let Welles finish it his way? Maybe, it definitely would be pretty damn compelling. As it is now though it is basically mighty Casey striking out. Compelling as an idea, as a what if, where you begin watching it excited but end deflated. This film is a legend but like a lot of legends it is better as a legend than as a reality.

  4. JoeDoakes

    Wow. Personally, I would suggest that you rewatch this several more times. Ambersons was regularly rated as one of the best films ever even in this cut. I think every bit of it is beautiful. Maybe it’s not exactly what Welles intended, but tbe Venus de milo was butchered too.

    I mean, I gave the disc a 5 out of 5 and I’m basically saying it’s a perfect release of an imperfect but important film…

    For what it’s worth, not only had I seen the film prior to this disc release, but I watched the film at least three times while working on the review. I’m sorry we don’t agree on the film overall but I appreciate your feedback.

  5. Reggie W

    Hhmm…I am not so certain of this. I love Welles but in its surviving form this is not one of his better pictures. Yes, like you I love watching this film and there is plenty that is good in it…where you obviously see and feel Orson's fingers at work…but the ending is utter rubbish and does not fit the film as Josh states. I agree with Josh that it is frustrating watch. Successive viewings I think just make me long to see Orson's version and makes this…at least to me…one of his least enjoyable films to sit through. I mean I love parts of it. I love seeing what he did and thinking about where he was trying to go with this but each time I reach the end of this film I feel like I want to smash something.

    I love the film for Welles' work on it, this Criterion disc is a must have, and this film is, as a piece of film history, both influential and a must watch…but one of the best film's ever? In this 88 minute intentional destruction of what Orson set out to do?

    No, I would not call it one of the best films ever by a long shot. Could it have been if they let Welles finish it his way? Maybe, it definitely would be pretty damn compelling. As it is now though it is basically mighty Casey striking out. Compelling as an idea, as a what if, where you begin watching it excited but end deflated. This film is a legend but like a lot of legends it is better as a legend than as a reality.

    I can't dispute much of what you stated above.

  6. I was very surprised by Josh’s production score of 3.5; but, then again, Ambersons was never an across the boards fare of favor.
    And this is the beauty of film and of our own personal takes and tastes. But gosh darn it, I’ll bet everyone across the boards will be in favor of those “Magnificent” Special Features; which, in and of itself, is worth the entire price of admission. No fillers, no additives and all meat.

  7. TJPC

    I have had the TV remake sitting on the shelf for years and never watched it. It purports to be much closer to Welles vision. Is it worth a look or the utter piece of crap I fear it may be?

    You are better off watching paint dry than seeing the 2002 remake.

  8. PMF

    I was very surprised by Josh's production score of 3.5; but, then again, "Ambersons" was never an across-the-boards fare of favor.
    And this is the beauty of film and of our own personal takes, tastes and truths; for be it pro or con, the film itself will never change. But gosh darn it, I'll bet everyone across-the-boards will be in favor of those "Magnificent" Special Features; which, in and of itself, is worth the entire price of admission. No fillers, no additives and all meat.

    BTW, Josh, excellent review !!!

    I'm not going to speak for Josh and his 3.5 grade, but even though, I have some reservations about the film itself. I still think it's a great movie with some superb film-making techniques.

  9. Robert Crawford

    I'm not going to speak for Josh and his 3.5 grade, but even though, I have some reservations about the film itself. I still think it's a great movie with some superb film-making techniques.

    I agree.

    I have to be honest and say that assigning a numerical value to a film is something I find very difficult to do. I always hope that more attention might be paid to the paragraph below the number than the number itself.

    Ambersons was tricky for me to pick a number on the film itself. The overall package rating was much simpler – it’s a 5/5. The physical design of the packaging is beautiful. The selections of vintage bonus material are enlightening. (And Welles on the Dick Cavett show is as fun as you’d expect.) The newly created bonuses add a tremendous amount of context and wisdom. It’s one of their best special editions ever, I think. So that’s easy.

    And there’s stuff in the movie I love. That prologue with the Welles narration, I could watch that as it’s own short any day of the week. There are some great performances. I love the cinematography. It’s a downbeat film but I’ve loved plenty of downers. It just feels uneven to me. The deletions rob the film of context and character, and it can make some of the stuff that does remain seeming out of place without that extra material.

    That’s what becomes tough – is a movie that has 5/5 scenes truly a 5/5 if those scenes aren’t assembled correctly in relation to each other? The movie had infinite potential – but what’s there in the final cut falls short of that potential to me. So whether that’s 3.5 or 4 or 5… I think we’re all going to feel a little bit differently about how much that matters to us. It even varies with me from film to film. Some movies I admire and enjoy despite the fact that they missed the mark and maybe even because they tried so hard, and other times I can acknowledge the effort and not be as enthralled with the falling short part.

    If Citizen Kane is a 5/5, Ambersons-as-it-is at 3.5 feels about right to me, inasmuch as a totally subjective, arbitrary numbering system can feel right.

    I still think this disc is one of the must-get titles of 2018.

    🙂

  10. Josh Steinberg

    I agree.

    I have to be honest and say that assigning a numerical value to a film is something I find very difficult to do. I always hope that more attention might be paid to the paragraph below the number than the number itself.

    Ambersons was tricky for me to pick a number on the film itself. The overall package rating was much simpler – it’s a 5/5. The physical design of the packaging is beautiful. The selections of vintage bonus material are enlightening. (And Welles on the Dick Cavett show is as fun as you’d expect.) The newly created bonuses add a tremendous amount of context and wisdom. It’s one of their best special editions ever, I think. So that’s easy.

    And there’s stuff in the movie I love. That prologue with the Welles narration, I could watch that as it’s own short any day of the week. There are some great performances. I love the cinematography. It’s a downbeat film but I’ve loved plenty of downers. It just feels uneven to me. The deletions rob the film of context and character, and it can make some of the stuff that does remain seeming out of place without that extra material.

    That’s what becomes tough – is a movie that has 5/5 scenes truly a 5/5 if those scenes aren’t assembled correctly in relation to each other? The movie had infinite potential – but what’s there in the final cut falls short of that potential to me. So whether that’s 3.5 or 4 or 5… I think we’re all going to feel a little bit differently about how much that matters to us. It even varies with me from film to film. Some movies I admire and enjoy despite the fact that they missed the mark and maybe even because they tried so hard, and other times I can acknowledge the effort and not be as enthralled with the falling short part.

    If Citizen Kane is a 5/5, Ambersons-as-it-is at 3.5 feels about right to me, inasmuch as a totally subjective, arbitrary numbering system can feel right.

    I still think this disc is one of the must-get titles of 2018.

    🙂

    Frankly, I pay little attention to film grades in disc reviews, particularly, to those films I've seen beforehand.

  11. Josh Steinberg

    […]The selections of vintage bonus material are enlightening. (And Welles on the Dick Cavett show is as fun as you’d expect.)[…]

    My first introduction to Orson Welles was as a teenager during the period where he seemed like an often accessible guest on television talk shows. I knew nothing of his history and hadn't seen a single one of his films at that time; and still, I found him to be captivating and intriguing. And then, in a catalogue of old radio shows I plucked out "War of the Worlds"; and from there I was off and running.

    Josh Steinberg

    […]If Citizen Kane is a 5/5, Ambersons-as-it-is at 3.5 feels about right to me, inasmuch as a totally subjective, arbitrary numbering system can feel right.
    I still think this disc is one of the must-get titles of 2018. 🙂

    Well, my score for "Ambersons" is a 5/5; but I still stand by Josh's right to his score, as cited in my earlier reasons. After all, who are we to challenge how one film impacts you, me or any other. The discussions of why one feels this way or the other are always insightful and educational; but, in the end, we have many varied life experiences and takes on films that lead us to our own personal conclusions; and neither party is wrong.

  12. PMF

    My first introduction to Orson Welles was as a teenager during the period where he seemed like an often accessible guest on television talk shows. I knew nothing of his history and hadn't seen a single one of his films at that time; and still, I found him to be captivating and intriguing. And then, in a catalogue of old radio shows I plucked out "War of the Worlds"; and from there I was off and running.

    The first time I remember seeing Orson Welles was him doing one of those Paul Masson wine commercials.

  13. PMF

    My first introduction to Orson Welles was as a teenager during the period where he seemed like an often accessible guest on television talk shows. I knew nothing of his history and hadn't seen a single one of his films at that time; and still, I found him to be captivating and intriguing. And then, in a catalogue of old radio shows I plucked out "War of the Worlds"; and from there I was off and running.

    It seemed Welles had Carte Blanche to appear on Merv Griffin's talk show. I would sometimes anticipate a certain guest only to have the "raconteur" show up for an entire show. I remember being disappointed one time when he appeared that the scheduled guest was bumped. Even though, he came across as arrogant and pompous I would watch transfixed as he told stories (sometimes with different endings etc than the first three times he had told the same story;) ).

    When they showed the the TV movie "The Night That Panicked America" (about TWoW radio show) my relatives who were watching it said "That's the night we decided to listen to Edgar Bergen (papa of Murphy Brown et al)"…

    Everyone who loved films who had any knowledge of the them called Citizen Kane the GOAT. When I finally saw it I totally disagreed. And as I have started watching earlier (especially "European") film makers, I am seeing where some of his "original" ideas came from. CK IS a masterpiece – but it is not my favorite of Welle's films.

    MA and The Stranger are far better IMHO. Apparently Welles went to South America with an Answer Print of MA and had intended to give Robert Wise his cutting notes. For whatever reason (including CK's relative boxoffice failure and the poor reception the original cut of MA) his wishes weren't followed. I'm sure if Welles had had the chance MA would have come out better. But MA is what we have now … unless the Answer Print or another source is found… MA is still a masterpiece IMHO …

  14. No disrespect to "The Magnificent Ambersons", but I disagree that it's a better film than "Citizen Kane". Perhaps my opinion is different because I watched "Citizen Kane" a 2-3 times in my youth back in the late 1960's while I didn't see in "The Magnificent Ambersons" until I was an adult later on in the mid-1970's One reason, I didn't like Tim Holt in his role. The cuts made in the film also didn't help my appreciation of it. Today, I think more highly of it knowing more details about the film and more acceptance of Tim Holt's performance in the film, but it's still not as good as "Citizen Kane". I do agree that "The Stranger" is a really good film that I've loved for over 50 years which I would watch over "The Magnificent Ambersons". Two more Welles films that I prefer are "Touch of Evil" and "The Lady from Shanghai".

  15. Josh Steinberg

    Somehow, The Stranger managed to escape me until some point last year — and I was not disappointed.

    It was one of those films that I caught on TV either on WOR-TV, WPIX or perhaps some other NYC station. The setting in Connecticut always appeal to me since that's my home state.

  16. Robert Crawford

    It was one of those films that I caught on TV either on WOR-TV, WPIX or perhaps some other NYC station. The setting in Connecticut always appeal to me since that's my home state.

    I really don't know how I never saw it. My mom surprised me with a copy of the Olive Blu-ray for Christmas in '17, and I ended up watching it in the first half of '18. I really did not expect that to be under the proverbial Christmas tree but it was just great. It's a movie I can imagine rewatching again and again.

    That's one of the things I love about Welles films – it's very rare that there's one that I wouldn't want to see again.

  17. Scott Merryfield

    Hmmn, I have never seen this film. Sounds like I need to correct that situation.

    Well, I will throw my recommendation in for The Stranger too. I've seen it many times over the years. It was a picture Welles did to show he could quickly churn out a film and come in under budget to try to make himself marketable as a director again. I think some people sort of knock the picture for this as a "one for them" kind of thing but the result is a briskly paced little thriller with really fun performances from Robinson and Welles. Robinson is really great at taking what he was given and making that character a joy to watch.

    The pacing of the film is probably not due to Welles but to editor Ernest Nims who basically was given control to cut anything he felt slowed the film down. He began by ripping out the first 16 pages of the script which would have drawn out the set-up and then 16 more pages he felt were not worth shooting. Welles called him "supercutter" but he had to go along with what Nims said as the contract they made him sign was quite threatening. If you use the old one page of script equals one minute of screen time that means Nims cut 32 minutes from the picture before Welles even started shooting. Welles did get to rewrite the script (it was originally going to be directed by John Huston) and his idea was to make the film more "nightmarish" to play to the Nazi side of things no doubt.

    What it all boils down to though is the film is a fun ride and Welles does get to create some cool little sequences. Robinson is outstanding as are Billy House and Loretta Young. It is a picture that is easy to watch again and again.

  18. atcolomb

    Orson originally wanted Agnes Moorehead to play the lead but the producer wanted a major star and Robinson was hired and did a fine job.

    Yeah, Agnes Moorehead is a favorite actress of mine, but I think Welles was a little before his time in that thinking as the studio was wise to block that casting as I don't think audience just getting over WWII was ready for that concept.

  19. B-ROLL

    […]I'm sure if Welles had had the chance MA would have come out better. But MA is what we have now … unless the Answer Print or another source is found… MA is still a masterpiece IMHO …

    The legendary cuts of Magnificent Ambersons makes me think of the old saying, "All's Welles that ends Welles".
    But fear not, for the world of film buffs and historians will continue to seek the "Answer".

    .

  20. Scott Merryfield

    The first time I remember seeing Orson Welles was him doing one of those Paul Masson wine commercials.

    I am certain that the Paul Masson slogan of "We will serve no wine before its time" was an adaptation from the earlier Welles quote of,
    "We will distribute no film before its time".;)

  21. I would love to have MA “restored” as had been done with “Greed” and “London After Dark”. It could be offered as a choice on the discs. I wonder if enough stills of the hacked out pieces survive?

  22. B-ROLL

    Apparently Welles went to South America with an Answer Print of MA and had intended to give Robert Wise his cutting notes.

    Sadly, though this is something people have said for years, Welles himself said he did not have a print in South America. As the story goes they were supposed to send him one but never did. I remember for years when I would be at some sort of Welles thing this would come up and everybody hoped that the print Welles had in South America would turn up…but then only in the last year or so I read a quote from Welles that he never had a print in South America. I think I posted that somewhere around here but not in this thread. So, the South America thing seems a dead end.

  23. Reggie W

    […]but then only in the last year or so I read a quote from Welles that he never had a print in South America. […]

    This answer print thing may very well had been designed by Welles, himself, as his final and ultimate slight-of-hand trick;
    so, c'mon everyone; let's start looking around in those Masson wine cellars.;)

  24. Brian Kidd

    I prefer the outtakes to the final commercial. Teehee.

    AAAAAAaaaaahhhh, the FFFFffrenshhhhh… *hic*

    Optional Working Titles:
    A Magnum Scented Amberson -or- Citizen Cranked.:D

  25. As it turns out, I have seen “The Stranger”. I didn’t recognize the title, but did recognize the synopsis when I went to add it to my watch list on Amazon Prime video. I remember it as a good film, but not as much to my liking as his more famous films, such as Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, The Third Man, The Magnificent Ambersons, etc.

  26. Scott Merryfield

    As it turns out, I have seen “The Stranger”. I didn’t recognize the title, but did recognize the synopsis when I went to add it to my watch list on Amazon Prime video. I remember it as a good film, but not as much to my liking as his more famous films, such as Citizen Kane, Touch of Evil, The Third Man, The Magnificent Ambersons, etc.

    While I'm sure Welles would occasionally aver that he directed The Third Man – Sir Carol Reed – uncle of Oliver and Director of "Oliver!" is still credited with directing The Third Man … 😉

  27. B-ROLL

    While I'm sure Welles would occasionally aver that he directed The Third Man – Sir Carol Reed – uncle of Oliver and Director of "Oliver!" is still credited with directing The Third Man … 😉

    I realize Welles didn’t direct “The Third Man”. Still, Welles plays a major part in the film.

  28. I think The Magnificent Ambersons is a great and haunting movie despite its famous re-cutting and tacked on ending. It is about nostalgia for the past, about the way times change and not always for the better. It has been said that by the end of the move we are nostalgic for the beginning of it. I think that would have been the case even with Welles' intended ending, although I have no doubt that production concept would have been executed more powerfully per Welles. In a weird way and because of its overall theme, if any movie can still remain great with a botched ending, this one is it.

  29. Cineman

    I think The Magnificent Ambersons is a great and haunting movie despite its famous re-cutting and tacked on ending. It is about nostalgia for the past, about the way times change and not always for the better. It has been said that by the end of the move we are nostalgic for the beginning of it. I think that would have been the case even with Welles' intended ending, although I have no doubt that production concept would have been executed more powerfully per Welles. In a weird way and because of its overall theme, if any movie can still remain great with a botched ending, this one is it.

    Film appreciation is subjective so I'm happy for you that you think this much of "The Magnificent Ambersons".

  30. I happened to be in my mom's attic this past weekend and, quite accidentally, came across one my favorite games from childhood which was still stored up there for all these years.

    View attachment 55479

    I whipped out my phone to take a picture of it so I could send it to "the girl next door" since we spent SO many nights enraptured by this game when we were kids. She got so excited!

    Anyone else remember this one?

    It was so much fun (though I doubt the electronics still work!) 🙁

    My first acquaintance with Welles came from his Merv Griffin appearances and yes, I would run around the house grabbing clocks in hopes he could make them work if I held them up to the TV.

  31. Will Krupp

    I happened to be in my mom's attic this past weekend and, quite accidentally, came across one my favorite games from childhood which was still stored up there for all these years.

    View attachment 55479

    I whipped out my phone to take a picture of it so I could send it to "the girl next door" since we spent SO many nights enraptured by this game when we were kids. She got so excited!

    Anyone else remember this one?

    It was so much fun (though I doubt the electronics still work!) 🙁

    My first acquaintance with Welles came from his Merv Griffin appearances and yes, I would run around the house grabbing clocks in hopes he could make them work if I held them up to the TV.

    YES! It was a very cool game. A complete game goes for a fortune these days on the secondary market.

  32. I wish there existed a clip from the Dinah Shore Show in which Orson Welles appeared, and he proceeded to analyze the very process of art (at least as far as the domination of men in the field in the past) as (and I'm summing up an old memory here) a male honoring a female whom he thinks is his superior. As politically incorrect today as it would be, it was an incredibly provocative discussion with all the guests. (Another old Dinah Shore Show I wish existed was the one that Sam Peckinpah appeared on, and Dinah Shore was a real fan of his work, and told him "The Westerner" was, to Shore, the finest television program of all time.)

  33. The Magnificent Ambersons tends to strike me as a lost opportunity for a lot of people. It's easy to try to come off as oh-so-discerning by trashing it, but that's the loss. It's a great opportunity to learn more about how movies can go wrong when there are too many cooks in the kitchen, or when un-creative beancounters stick their big fat heads into things.

    I suggest, for anyone interested, to watch the movie. Then read the novel, and you might also read The Turmoil, an earlier Tarkington novel with a very similar theme. Get a greater understanding of what the film could have, and should have been. What it hopefully was intended to be by Welles. Understand what Tarkington was concerned about with industrialization and the consequences of it, both for individuals and all of society. Notice the parallels between it and Once Upon a Time in the West, which is set almost 50 years earlier, but deals with similar influences of the late industrial revolution.

    As far as Arau's TV remake, I think it's worth at least a watch. I saw it twice when it came out, so it's been quite a while. There wasn't much I liked about it, but there are things to like. Bruce Greenwood (a seriously under appreciated actor) is excellent as Eugene. Gretchen Moll is actually pretty good as Lucy, as I recall. I seriously disliked Jonathan Rhys Meyers as George, and I despised the not-so-subtle Oedipal element that was tossed in. However, it includes critical story elements from the novel that were deleted from the original, such as actually explaining how Eugene continued to build wealth as all the Ambersons went bankrupt.

    Plus, there's still a lot of Welles' great, innovative cinematic contributions in the original, even if it ended up being damaged so severely by the studio.

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