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Magnificent Ambersons, The

Director: Orson Welles

(1942| 88 minutes| PG)


Citizen Kane is considered by many to be Orson Welles’ masterpiece, but more than a few prominent critics have argued that this, his second film, is an even greater artistic achievement. Adapted by Welles from the novel by Booth Tarkington, the story is set during the late 19th century and follows the rise and fall of the wealthy Amberson family of Indianapolis, Indiana. Central to the drama is George Amberson Minafer (Tim Holt), who is snobbishly to the manor born, and whose petty jealousies and truculent pride compel him to prevent a wealthy inventor (Joseph Cotten) from marrying his widowed mother (Dolores Costello). This in part is the cause of the Ambersons’ downfall, and ultimately leads to George’s humbling ‘comeuppance’ at the film’s dramatic conclusion. It’s an absorbing tale of fading traditions and changing times, and it’s also a magnificent showcase for Welles’ cinematic audacity, famous for its long, fluid shots and ambitious compositions.

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