HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Fire Will Come
Suspect
Jailbreak Pact
News of the World
Dementer
Beyond Clueless
Stylist, The
Sky is On Fire, The
Wrong Turn
In a Year with 13 Moons
Blush
Strange Affair of Uncle Harry, The
Sinners, The
Tammy and the T-Rex
Archenemy
Zappa
Mindwarp
State Secret
Mogul Mowgli
Owners, The
Twentieth Century, The
Story of Gilbert and Sullivan, The
What Lies Below
Greenland
Broil
Dead Pigs
Willy's Wonderland
It's in the Air
School's Out Forever
Breeder
Stump the Guesser
Sator
Last Warning, The
PVT CHAT
Ascent, The
Clementine
Hurt by Paradise
Saint Maud
Johnny Frenchman
Glitch in the Matrix, A
   
 
Newest Articles
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
Newley Minted: The Strange World of Gurney Slade on Blu-ray
Bad Love: The Night Porter on Blu-ray
Brevity is the Soul of Weird: Short Sharp Shocks on Blu-ray
Get Your Ass to Mars: Total Recall on Blu-ray
Call the Professionals: Le Cercle Rouge on Blu-ray
When There's No More Room in Hell: Dawn of the Dead on Blu-ray
The Butterfly Effect: Mothra on Blu-ray
Living Room Theatre: Play for Today Volume 1 on Blu-ray
Didn't He Do Well: The Bruce Forsyth Show on DVD
   
 
  Magnificent Ambersons, The Change Is The Only Constant
Year: 1942
Director: Orson Welles
Stars: Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter, Tim Holt, Agnes Moorehead, Ray Collins, Erskine Sanford, Richard Bennett, Orson Welles
Genre: DramaBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Since 1873, this small town had been the centrepiece of the wealthy Amberson family, who everyone locally looked up to and in many cases envied - they certainly loved to gossip about them. Time may have seemed to move quickly in those far off days, with fashions changing with the seasons, but then there was the transport where a horsedrawn carriage was the most widely available form of getting about if you were not prepared to use Shanks's pony, even so the public transport would be good enough to wait on you if you called the driver from your bedroom window and hurried down to meet it. But there were innovations, and the motor car was one of those, a sign of things to come...

If you've heard of Orson Welles, you'll likely be aware of two aspects of his career, which were he started with the oft-proclaimed greatest movie ever made, Citizen Kane, and his second, The Magnificent Ambersons, was taken away from him in its latter stages and recut against his wishes, without any of his input. Nevertheless, this work has been subject to as much acclaim from aficionados as the more visible classic that preceded it, who ignore the harm done to what was a two-and-a-half-hour film to cut around an hour out of the running time, all the better to make it more palatable for the general audience who now had more on their collective minds than a depressing tale of a family in decline.

That was World War II, which the United States had been forced to enter after the Pearl Harbor attack, and is often given the blame for The Magnificent Ambersons poor reception. This may be an easy scapegoat, for what Welles had made was an art film on a blockbuster budget, at least for the studio RKO who channelled a small fortune into the production, by their standards. It was exquisitely designed and photographed by Stanley Cortez, his deep focus style generating a tone of the past that at once seemed so vivid and so far away, which operated as a perfect encapsulation of Welles' theme of time being unstoppable, and even the tallest trees destined to be felled by the passing of the years eventually.

We meet the Ambersons just as they are riding the crest of the wave of their fortune and popularity, but that merely lasts for the first few minutes, as after that it was downhill all the way. What to do when you used to be "magnificent" as the title of Booth Tarkington's novel had it, but now you are seeing that fall away because you always expected life to stay the same, when of course the only constant is change and there's nothing you can do to halt that? The parallels with Welles' own experiences were too irresistible not to bring up, as his decline was well documented and a source of humiliation for the man many called a genius before he was even out of his mid-twenties: whom the Gods wish to destroy, are first called promising, indeed. Yet similarly, it was difficult to take pleasure in this when you could see the plot was being rushed along to a conclusion he never intended.

That ending, as he envisioned it, would be downbeat and melancholy, but a panicking RKO reverted to having the original ending of the book hastily shot and tacked onto what looked increasingly like a film that did not want to hang around as it neared its finale. The fact there was so much quality in this, with the observations on progress and how it leaves everyone behind eventually superbly delivered by a top notch ensemble (unusual in those days when a protagonist was used as the audience's focal point in the story). Joseph Cotten was the decent man who loved a woman he had missed his chance with, Isobel Amberson (Dolores Costello), until she was widowed but her son, the bratty and entitled George (Tim Holt) was dead against it, ruining so much potential for happiness, his own included (with Anne Baxter), because he sneered at Cotten's automobile business, and Holt's Aunt (Agnes Moorhead in a powerhouse of despair) serves as a reminder of where has gone wrong. Rich with emotion and poignancy, as you can see, but simply frittered away in the version released, the original edit lost forever. Again, more irony. Music by Bernard Hermann (who had his name removed).
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 1690 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Darren Jones
Andrew Pragasam
Stately Wayne Manor
Enoch Sneed
  Geraint Morgan
   

 

Last Updated: