Hacked about by a confused RKO, Welles' second film (from the novel by Booth Tarkington) still looks a masterpiece, astounding for its almost magical re-creation of a gentler age when cars were still a nightmare of the future and the Ambersons felt safe in their mansion on the edge of town. Right from the wryly comic opening, detailing changes in fashions and the family's exalted status, Welles takes an ambivalent view of the way the quality of life would change under the impact of a new industrial age, stressing the strength of community as evidenced in the old order while admitting to its rampant snobbery and petty sense of manners. With immaculate period reconstruction, and virtuoso acting shot in long, elegant takes, it remains the director's most moving film, despite the artificiality of the sentimental tacked-on ending.
The Magnificent Ambersons
Cast and crew