a/perture Cinema, Agnes Moorehead, Anne Baxter, Bernard Herrmann, Citizen Kane, Delores Costello, IMDb, Joseph Cotton, Netflix, Orson Wells, Richard Bennett, RKO, Rotten Tomatoes, The Less Desirables, The Magnificent Ambersons, Tim Holt
a/perture cinema, the Official Movie Sponsor of The Less Desirables, presents The Less Desirables Movie of the Week, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) starring Tim Holt, Joseph Cotton and Delores Costello.
Per IMDb: “The spoiled young heir to the decaying Amberson fortune comes between his widowed mother and the man she has always loved.”
The Indianapolis small town terror, the über-rich and spoiled George Amberson Minfer (Holt) grows up and goes off to college. He comes back to town, still snooty and attends a ball thrown by his mother. He meets Lucy Morgan (Anne Baxter) at this party and becomes jealous when all the young men at the ball are aware and know her. He then makes fun of an older gentleman at the ball that he continuously calls a “queer looking duck” that keeps looking at Lucy. It turns out, he’s her father, Eugene Morgan, who has always had a crush on George’s mother, Isabel (Costello), all his life. Whew… that was confusing, right?
George is all up in arms that the Amberson women are falling all over Morgan. They’re all old friends and George doesn’t think anyone’s good enough for the Amberson/Minifers. However, he still is very interested in Lucy. Then, George’s father dies; and he had no fortune to show for his life and their social standing.That creates tension between sisters-in-law, Fanny (Agnes Moorehead) and Isabel. Fanny loves Eugene, Eugene loves Isabel, Isabel loves Eugene. A love triangle, indeed.
The automobile industry picks up and Eugene Morgan (a manufacturer of autos) decides to build a home that rivals the majesty of the Amberson Estate. During a dinner party, George expounds that he thinks “automobiles are a useless nuisance, which had no business being invented.” Family members are shocked by his outspoken opinion. However, instead of acting insulted, Eugene says that George may not be wrong. He says he knows that automobiles are going to drastically alter human civilization, for good or bad. During the evening Fanny tells George that Isabel and Eugene were an item and is incensed when Fanny implies that Isabel loved Eugene, not Wilbur, George’s father.
George refuses to let Isabel see Eugene and because of her love for her spoiled brat son, agrees to not see Eugene any longer. Eugene is devastated. George and Isabel decide to travel the world to “get away” from it all. George tells Lucy that he’ll never see her again. She acts happy for him but she’s really hurt. The Minfers live in Europe for a while but Isabel gets sick and they must return home. George still refuses to let Eugene see her, but he insists, but is turned away by the rest of the family, due to her being so ill. Well, she passes on and then her father, Major Amberson (Richard Bennett) being lost without his daughter also passes and he leaves nothing of his riches to his descendants. They start falling apart. George had to face the “horror” of getting a real job to support him and his aunt Fanny. Gone was the bold, audacious George Amberson Minfer. Then, because it’s how it is in the movies, disaster strikes. What disaster? Does he ever mend things with the Morgans? You’ll have to watch to find out.
I think the theme of all this is that you should be careful about how you treat people. The film was not edited the way Orson Wells wanted. RKO took over the editing and totally went against what Wells had laid out for editing. They even reshot the ending to make it their own. Seems RKO went nuts on all the picture, even editing down the score that Bernard Herrmann composed, leading him to demand that his name be removed from the credits and threatening legal action if they weren’t. I’ve read about the original ending and think I would have liked that one better.
Wells was the narrator for the film, as well as the screenplay writer and director. Just not in charge of the editing. I don’t get why this is on the 400 nominees list for the AFI Top 100 Movies of All Time. I do think it was shot beautifully and the acting is decent but the overall flow of the film was as choppy as my review here. I get that it is, but mainly because the film is, at least to me. It is no Citizen Kane by any stretch. To me, it was so-so at best.
Rotten Tomatoes has it at 91% Fresh with an Audience Score of 85%. IMDb rates it 7.9 stars out of 10. I had to purchase this one to watch, which I did a few years back; I just hadn’t seen it. I didn’t really care for it and see why it’s not on Netflix. I rate it 2.5 stars.
Have you seen it? Do you agree or disagree with me? Let me know.
Until tomorrow, same blog channel…
“When times are gone, they are not old, they’re dead. There aren’t any times but new times.” – Eugene Morgan