fbpx The Magnificent Ambersons | Gene Siskel Film Center
Film Series : Orson Welles: The Other Side of the Argument

The Magnificent Ambersons

1942, Orson Welles, USA, 88 min.

Show Times

  • Fri, Feb 1st 2:00pm
  • Fri, Feb 1st 6:00pm
  • Tue, Feb 5th 6:00pm

"Welles's second feature is in many ways his most personal and most impressive...The emotional sense of America in the late 19th and early 20th centuries is so palpable you can taste it."--Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Based on Booth Tarkington's 1918 novel, Welles's second film uses the decline of a prominent Midwestern family as a microcosm for the shift from 19th-century gentility to 20th-century industrialism. The plot centers on an Oedipal triangle involving the dowager Isabel Amberson Minafer (Costello), her automobile-manufacturer suitor (Cotten), and her possessive, enfant-terrible son (Holt). Throughout his career, Welles insisted that THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS was a greater achievement than CITIZEN KANE, although his assessment was based on the film's long-lost original version. Cut by 45 minutes and saddled with a weak, studio-imposed ending, AMBERSONS is perhaps the most regrettable hatchet-job in film history. However, enough of its original glory remains to give credence to Welles's claim, supported by the film's greater emotional depth and its more accomplished use of the fluid long-take style that had been pioneered in CITIZEN KANE. 35mm. (MR)

The Tuesday screening will include a lecture/discussion by renowned critic and Welles authority Jonathan Rosenbaum.

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