Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Sight & Sound Challenge: The Magnificent Ambersons (1942)

Film: The Magnificent Ambersons (150/250) 
First Time/Rewatch: Rewatch

Ooh I had fun with this one! I hadn't seen this in years (this was the film that introduced me to stud-muffin Tim Holt) so I was excited to revisit it. I forgot how great the cast was: Tim Holt, Joseph Cotten, Anne Baxter, Agnes Moorehead, Dolores Costello. Each actor holds their own in this story of two families torn apart. Tim Holt is wonderfully wretched as the arrogant George Amberson Minafer, whose only thoughts are of himself and his petty grudges. Agnes Moorehead and Joseph Cotten are other standouts, especially Cotten in the intro. Despite ultimately being a tragedy, the film opens with such a playful tone. I think Orson Welles's narration adds to the mischievous quality...I can't help but picture him with a smirk whenever I hear his voice.

I know this film is notorious for being butchered in the editing room away from Welles' watchful eye, but I actually really like the final product. It gets to the point at a streamlined 88 minutes (original cut was 148 minutes!) and while it's a shame we didn't get Bernard Herrmann's complete score or see some of the deleted scenes, I don't feel that the final result suffers. And anyway, that's moviemaking for you. 

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