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The Magnificent Ambersons

4.4 out of 5 stars 115 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Magnificent Ambersons, The (DVD)

A spat between wealthy, young Isabel Amberson and her beau, the brash inventor, Eugene Morgan, launches a chain of events that will haunt two families for generations in Orson Welles classic The Magnificent Ambersons. After quarreling with Eugene (Joseph Cotton), Isabel (Dolores Costello) marries a man she does not love and devotes her life to her son, George (Tim Holt). Over the years, Eugene becomes a millionaire in the new automobile industry; George grows into an insufferable young man; and Eugene and Isabel, both widowed, resume their relationship. Eugene proposes to Isabel, but George, who has never had to work, disdains the self-made Eugene. He bars his mother from seeing the one man she has ever loved. Yet, even though George has prevented Eugene from ever marrying Isabel, Eugene rescues George when tragedy strikes the Amberson family.


Special Features


Product Details

  • Actors: Georgia Backus, Anne Baxter, Richard Bennett, William Blees, Ray Collins
  • Directors: Orson Welles
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: January 31, 2012
  • Run Time: 88 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (115 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00005JKGX
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,139 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Magnificent Ambersons" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: VHS Tape
For those truly interested in what Welles' original version of "The Magnificent Ambersons" would have been like, I strongly recommend Robert Carringer's "The Magnificent Ambersons: A Reconstruction" and Peter Bogdanovich's "This Is Orson Welles". Both books provide considerable detail regarding the significant re-editing and re-shooting which took place on this film. What remains in the released version of Welles' second film is astonishing, but much of the story's logic was lost in the re-cutting, as was important character motivation. Exactly why did the Ambersons lose their fortune? What propelled George to rebuff Eugene? Welles' original version answered these questions and presented an incredible vision of a world overrun by industry. The destruction of this original version of the movie is simply the greatest injustice done to American cinema. Alas, we can still marvel at the film's beautiful performances, the gorgeous "snow ride" scene, the astonishingly realistic "kitchen" scenes and Welles' incredible narration. By all means, watch this movie, but do some reading about what it was meant to be and then use your imagination to see the greatest American movie ever made.
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Format: VHS Tape
Orson Welles's adaptation of Booth Tarkington's award-willing novel and follow-up to Citizen Kane is a true screen classic. As with Kane, this film contains many wonderful performances by all the leads including Joseph Cotton, Agnes Moorehead, Dolores Costello, and Tim Holt as George Amberson Minafer. Welles continued his experimentation with film technique and you will notice similar camera angles and lighting, to those in Kane. The lighting is something exploited to good affect here, especially in the scenes inside the Amberson mansion. The story is a simple one: Eugene Morgan (Cotton) and Isabel Amberson (Costello) young lovers, who through a somewhat frivolous circumstance end up marrying other people. After they've both raised children, they again find themselves free to begin where they left off in their youth. But Isabel's son (Holt) does not approve of their relationship, in spite of the fact that he is in love with Morgan's daughter, Lucy (Anne Baxter). Set at the turn of the 20th century, the movie has a wonderful feel and texture, which effectively evokes the period. An interesting backdrop is the development of the automobile, with Cotton an early proponent and tycoon, and its effects on not only the American economy, but on the changes it brings to society as well. Morgan, once spurned as a little too common for Isabel returns again to his hometown a successful industrialist. As his fortunes climb, those of the Ambersons fall. As already mentioned, the film is packed with wonderful performances. Agnes Moorehead was nominated for Best Supporting Actress and won the Best Actress award from the New York Film Critics Circle. As the lonely, sorrowful Aunt Fanny, hers is a delicately crafted characterization.Read more ›
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
It is impossible to assign an accurate star rating to this product. The actual movie - although butchered by a pack of money-mad pirates prior to the film's initial release back in 1942 - was most probably as magnificent as its title indirectly suggests. What remains of Welles' original vision is still magnificent. The dastardly doings of meddlers who cut here and there with all the perverse glee of cinematic Jack the Rippers and the replacement footage shot by hacks for an idiotic restructuring of the original film go far in compromising the impact and power of what was most assuredly in the original version. All of RKO's inept attempts to make the film a better one have merely ruined a masterpiece. What happened is somewhat akin to far lesser artists cutting apart Da Vinci's "The Last Supper" and rearranging the apostles and even leaving a few out of the picture all together. So, in its original form, AMBERSONS would most likely have garnered a full five stars. Compromised by morons and strictly viewed as just a movie...three stars seems more honest.

Sadly, on these boards we commentators cannot accord votes to a product's various elements. I wish that such a system were enacted by Amazon, as too often folks have to explain why a certain something only gets a few stars - with the reason often being that the stars are for the quality of the item and not the quality of what the item is presenting. In this case - after having waited years for THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS to finally become available on DVD - what does Warner Brothers do to make this moment memorable? Pitifully, hardly a thing! No commentary whatsoever - even though the story of the plight of this ruined masterwork is a tale that must be told!
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4 Comments 49 of 55 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
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Format: VHS Tape
What a travesty it is that as of this writing, Orson Welles' "The Magnificent Ambersons" is not available on DVD, while the far inferior 2002 remake is. Welles' managed to follow up his landmark debut "Citizen Kane" with another masterpiece, despite studio meddling which reduced the film's length by 43 minutes.
Eschewing "Kane's" fragmented structure, "Ambersons" employs a linear narrative to chronicle the rise and fall of the Amberson family, who become an allegory for pre-industrialized America. Though the film undeniably laments the passing of the simpler, 19th century way of life (most effectively in a nostalgic prelude narrated by Welles himself), the conflict between past and progress is complicated by the impudence of George Minafer (Tim Holt), scion of the Ambersons, and the amiability of Joseph Cotten as the inventor whose automobiles contribute to the decline of the Ambersons' magnificence. "Ambersons" is characterized by masterfully choreographed long takes, which allow Welles to extract thematic content from the material through sheer compositional virtuosity. "The Magnificent Ambersons" remains a powerful experience despite the loss of several key scenes; RKO chopped Welles' diamond, but could not obscure its brilliance.
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Topic From this Discussion
Warner to release on DVD in 2008.
Oh yeah, then where is it?
Jun 5, 2009 by Gary Byron |  See all 5 posts
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