The Magnificent Ambersons is a 1942 U.S. Period Drama, the second feature film produced and directed by Orson Welles. Welles adapted Booth Tarkington’s Pulitzer Prize-winning 1918 novel, about the declining fortunes of a proud Midwestern family and the social changes brought by the automobile age. The film stars Joseph Cotton, Dolores Costello, Anne Baxter, Tim Holt, Agnes Moorehead, and Ray Collins, with Welles providing the narration.Welles lost control of the editing of the film to RKO, and the final version released to audiences differed significantly from his rough cut of the film. More than an hour of footage was cut by the studio, which also shot and substituted a happier ending. Although Welles's extensive notes for how he wished the film to be cut have survived, the excised footage was destroyed. Composer Bernard Herrmann insisted his credit be removed when, like the film itself, his score was heavily edited by the studio.Even in the released version, The Magnificent Ambersons is often regarded as among the best U.S. films ever made, a distinction it shares with Welles's first film, Citizen Kane. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards including Best Picture, and it was added to the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress in 1991.
This film provides examples of: