🎥 The Magnificent Ambersons – 1942

The Story …

The Ambersons are by far the wealthiest family in their Midwestern city in the last few decades of the 19th century.

As a young man, Eugene Morgan courts Isabel Amberson, but she rejects him after he publicly embarrasses her. She instead marries Wilbur Minafer, a passionless man she does not love, and spoils their child, George. The townspeople long to see George get his “comeuppance.”

In the early 20th century, Major Amberson gives a large party at the Amberson Mansion for George, who is home from college for the holidays. Eugene, now a widower who has just returned to town after 20 years, attends. George dislikes Eugene, whom he sees as a social climber, and ridicules Eugene’s investment in the automobile. He instantly takes to Eugene’s daughter Lucy.

The next day, George and Lucy take a sleigh ride. They pass Eugene, his aunt Fanny, Isabel, and Isabel’s brother, Jack. Eugene’s “horseless carriage” has gotten stuck in the snow, and George jeers at them to “get a horse.” The Amberson sleigh then overturns, and Eugene, after his vehicle is mobile again, gives everyone a ride back home. George is humiliated by the incident and angered by Eugene’s attentions toward Isabel and his mother’s obvious affection for Eugene.

Wilbur Minafer loses a substantial amount of money on bad investments and soon dies. George is largely unmoved by his father’s death. The night after the funeral, George teases Fanny, who is besotted with Eugene.

Time passes, and Eugene becomes very wealthy manufacturing automobiles, and again courts Isabel, who refuses to risk George’s disapproval by telling him about their love. Lucy rejects George’s marriage proposal by saying that he has no ambition in life other than to be wealthy and keep things as they are, and she leaves town. The Ambersons invite the lonely Eugene to dinner, where George, blaming him for turning Lucy against him, criticizes automobiles. The Ambersons are shocked by his rudeness, but Eugene says that George may turn out to be right.

That evening, George learns from Aunt Fanny that Eugene has been courting Isabel. Enraged, he rudely confronts a neighbor for spreading gossip about his mother. The next day, George refuses to let Eugene see his mother. Jack tells Isabel about George’s terrible behavior, but she declines to do anything that might upset her son. Eugene writes to Isabel and asks her to choose between her son and his love. Isabel chooses George.

Lucy returns home to find that George is taking his mother to Europe on an extended trip. George talks to Lucy in an attempt to discover if she loves him. She feigns indifference, and they part. Lucy is heartbroken, however, and faints.

Months pass, and Isabel is seriously ill, but George will not allow her to come home for fear that she will renew her relationship with Eugene. He relents only when she starts to die. George refuses to let Eugene go upstairs to visit Isabel on her deathbed although she begs to see Eugene one last time.

After Isabel’s death, Major Amberson sinks into senility and dies. His estate is worthless. Jack leaves town to take a job in another city. George intends to live on Fanny’s income while he trains to be a lawyer, but she reveals that she lost everything in bad investments, and they are left with only a few hundred dollars to live on for the rest of the year.

Eugene asks Lucy if she will reconcile with George. Lucy instead tells her father a story about an American Indian chief who was “pushed out on a canoe into the sea” when he became too obnoxious, which Eugene understands to be an analogy for George.

Penniless, George gives up his job as a law clerk and finds higher-paying work in a chemical factory, which gives him enough money for himself and Fanny to live on. George wanders the city and is dazed by the modern factories and slums, which have grown up around him. In his last night in the Amberson mansion before it is sold, George prays by his dead mother’s bed. The narrator says that no one is around to see him receive his comeuppance.

George is seriously injured by an automobile. Lucy and Eugene go to see him at the hospital and reconcile with him. In a hospital corridor, Eugene tells Fanny that Isabel’s spirit had inspired Eugene to bring George “under shelter again,” which implies that his and Fanny’s financial security was assured. …

Credits :

  • Directed by Orson Welles
  • Screenplay by Orson Welles
  • Based on The Magnificent Ambersons 1918 novel by Booth Tarkington
  • Produced by Orson Welles
  • Cinematography : Stanley Cortez
  • Edited by Robert Wise
  • Music by No credit in film
  • Production Companies : RKO Radio Pictures and Mercury Productions
  • Distributed by RKO Radio Pictures
  • Release Date : July 10, 1942

Cast :

  • Joseph Cotten as Eugene Morgan
  • Dolores Costello as Isabel Amberson Minafer
  • Anne Baxter as Lucy Morgan
  • Tim Holt as George Amberson Minafer
  • Agnes Moorehead as Fanny Minafer, Wilbur’s sister
  • Ray Collins as Jack Amberson, Isabel’s brother.
  • Erskine Sanford as Roger Bronson
  • Richard Bennett as Major Amberson, father of Jack and Isabel.
  • Don Dillaway as Wilbur Minafer
  • Orson Welles as Narrator

Film Information Source :


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