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The Magnificent Ambersons


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#1 Justan Zimmerman

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Posted 04 May 2005 - 06:58 PM

I noticed that TCM is showing this as part of a bevy of Orson Welles films tonight, so it appears I?ll be staying up late. I?ve worn out two VHS copies of this film and was finally able to see it in a theater a year or two ago. Simply amazing. Yes, it was chopped apart and had a happy ending tacked on, but I still love this film. I?ve never understood why the film as a whole, as well as the cinematography by Stanley Cortez, doesn?t receive the same amount of praise and attention as other non-Citizen Kane films by Welles, like Touch of Evil or The Lady from Shanghai (not that I?m knocking them).

So am I the only one who loves this film? I know people who rave about Stanley Cortez?s cinematography for The Night of the Hunter but still haven?t seen The Magnificent Ambersons. Madness, utter madness.

By the way, I?m willing to break legs to get this on DVD if only someone could please tell me who gets the receiving end of my bat.
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#2 Jon Rosenbloom

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 10:08 AM

There are plenty of people who love "Ambersons," including me. Up until the studio ending, it's one of the great accomplishments of film art. If you get into reading Welles biographies, you'll find many pages detailing the tragic history of the "Ambersons:" The reels that the studio cut out eventually sank into the Pacific! Despite this, there have been a bunch of attempts to "restore" the film. (Wasn't there a TV production in the past 5 years based on Welle's script?)

Certainly not as fast-paced or effervescent as "Kane," but it still has a great vitality, raging beneath its genteel surface. (And very funny, too.) It's kind of "Odyssey" to Kane's "Illiad."

Note, Welles attributed a lot of Amberson's budget troubles to Cortez, whom he called "a criminally slow camera-man."
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#3 Mike Williamson

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Posted 05 May 2005 - 10:49 AM

One of many beautiful Welles films with a sad history, though I must say that I personally prefer "Touch of Evil", "Lady from Shanghai" and "Othello". I think one reason that Welles' other films are more talked about is because they have a sensibility that's more accessible today, compare for example the dark pessimism of "Shanghai" with the nostalgic feel of "Ambersons". Also "Lady from Shanghai" seems to have survived its mutilation better than "Ambersons" did...

I miss seeing Welles on screen in "Ambersons", probably a nice break for him to not have to act in one of his films, but I'm not sure anyone really fills the vacuum that he leaves. If the film seems to sometimes wander, I think part of the reason is that it lacks the strong central figure that Welles often provides in his own films.
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