The Magnificent Ambersons

The Magnificent Ambersons

Orson Welles (1942)

U Certificate


Our Score
Orson Welles's follow-up to Citizen Kane is one of cinema's flawed masterpieces. Adapted from Booth Tarkington's novel, it tells the compelling story of the decline of a wealthy family in the face of sprawling industrialisation. Joseph Cotten plays the aspiring inventor whose love for the beautiful Isabel Amberson (Dolores Costello) is continually thwarted by family pride and whose rise provides the counterpoint to their fall. We shall never see the director's true vision, as executives at RKO felt the film was too long and the plot depressing. They ordered over 40 minutes of cuts, destroyed the footage and tacked on a happy ending directed by production manager Freddie Fleck. Out of the country on location, Welles was powerless to do anything about it. It says much for his genius that this is still a brilliant exercise in nostalgia and film technique.


A successful car manufacturer is reunited with his lost love, now a wealthy high society widow, and hopes to give their relationship a second chance. Her selfish son strives to keep them apart, as industrial progress leaves the whole family facing an uncertain future. Period drama, written, directed and narrated by Orson Welles, starring Joseph Cotten and Agnes Moorehead.

Cast & Crew

Eugene Morgan Joseph Cotten
Isabel Amberson Minafer Agnes Moorehead
Fanny Minafer Dolores Costello
Lucy Morgan Anne Baxter
George Amberson Minafer Tim Holt
Orson Welles
Wilbur Minafer Donald Dillaway
Jack Amberson Ray Collins
Director Orson Welles
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Other Information

Language: EnglishBlack and whiteAvailable on: video, DVD and Blu-ray