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Big screen classics

The Magnificent Ambersons

Orson Welles’ masterly adaptation, about a well-to-do midwestern family getting its comeuppance in a rapidly industrialising America.

Image from The Magnificent Ambersons

USA 1942
Dir Orson Welles
With Joseph Cotten, Dolores Costello, Agnes Moorehead, Tim Holt
88min
35mm
Certificate U

Orson Welles’ follow-up to Citizen Kane is a brilliant, highly faithful adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s novel about the demise of a patrician Midwestern family in an increasingly industrialised America. It remains a masterpiece, notwithstanding RKO’s mutilation of the later scenes. The sheer cinematic invention is already evident in the prologue; wry humour alternates with a melancholy gravitas to create a work of philosophical depth and emotional complexity.


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