10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
A butchered masterpiece but a masterpiece nevertheless,
This review is from: The Magnificent Ambersons [DVD]  (DVD)
Based on the Booth Tarkington novel, Orson Welles second film (his follow up to CITIZEN KANE) follows the fall of an arrogant, upper middle class prig (Tim Holt) who sees his birthright as an excuse to ignore or dismiss anything that doesn't fit into his narrow world and the tragedy that befalls his family because of that arrogance. What's amazing about Welles' masterpiece is that, despite its mutilation by RKO and with almost an hour of Welles' footage cut and an unforgivable happy ending tacked on, it still is one of the high points of American cinema. While we'll never be able to know what we've lost, what we have is superb film making. If what we have is this good, is it possible that AMBERSONS might have triumphed KANE? With Joseph Cotten, Anne Baxter, Dolores Costello, Ray Collins, Richard Bennett and in the film's best performance, Agnes Moorehead as the spinster aunt in the kind of performance that leaves you holding your breath, like watching someone walking a tightrope. It's hard to judge which is her great scene, the second scene on the stairs or the one by the hot water heater. The delicate sombre score is by Bernard Herrmann whose scoring for the sleigh ride in the snow ranks with his very best work.
The British DVD courtesy of Universal could use some restoration work but it's more than watchable.