The Magnificent Ambersons

Thursday, May 14 at 7:00pm | Regular admission prices

Part of our month-long celebration of The Films of Orson Welles! Click here for the full schedule

Orson Welles’ stunning follow-up to Citizen Kane is a poetic adaptation of Booth Tarkington’s tragic, Pulitzer Prize-winning novel chronicling the rise and fall of one wealthy family in turn-of-the-20th-century middle America. An engrossing drama of American success, failure and the decay of the old aristocracy as told through the lives and loves of the flamboyant Amberson family and the social changes brought about by the automobile age, The Magnificent Ambersons follows auto manufacturer Joseph Cotten as he pursues lost love Dolores Costello, despite her imperious son Tim Holt – himself smitten with Cotten’s daughter Anne Baxter – and lovelorn spinster aunt Agnes Moorehead.

“Powerful and extraordinary … Orson Welles’s second feature is in many ways his most personal and most impressive.” – Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader

Over the span of several tumultuous decades, the family’s fortunes and failures in the auto industry mirror their personal triumphs and tragedies, as the world continues to change around them. Welles’ low-key, reflective follow-up to the barn-burning Citizen Kane artfully examines the decline of a family and the end of an era, with Stanley Cortez’s dynamic camerawork providing a striking panorama of turn-of-the-century America. Controversially re-edited by the studio in Welles’ absence (with 40 minutes cut from his original version), and its ending re-written and re-shot by others (which Welles fought against), The Magnificent Ambersons, even in this truncated form, is often considered one of the greatest American films ever made. “It was a much better picture than Kane—if they’d just left it as it was,” Welles famously told Peter Bogdanovich decades later. (Dir. by Orson Welles, 1942. USA, 88 mins., Not Rated)