the magnificent ambersons

released: 1942

directed by: Orson Welles


written by: David Botros


An aristocratic coming of age story.

Might sound boring but there is so much juicy drama here that I never once considered switching it off in favour of something else.

Opening, first of all, was really cool.

It was like reading the prologue to a Dickens novel while simultaneously enjoying a visual representation of the family tree.

Our lead, who is a jerk for the majority of the film, leaves us no choice but to await his come-uppance.

It has the scope of Citizen Kane, though that film was about one man, whereas this one is about one man’s family –

And how one man’s actions carry on through an entire bloodline.

It’s smart and it’s affecting and it’s really, really well acted.

And I shall leave you with one bit of history just because.

The staircase in this movie (which by the way is one of the great movie staircases and is used to its fullest capacity with the aide of some brilliant cinematography) is also in another movie which came out the same year.

That movie is Cat People.

The reason it’s in it, though, is because Jacques Tourneur and Val Lewton, respectively director and producer, had so little money to make it that they re-used the same set.

I shan’t talk about Cat People for too long but it’s one of the first B horror films to use its budget to its advantage – quite inspiring, especially in choosing what to show and what not to show.

Which, as we all know, is not only what horror is about, but all of cinema.


Anywho: The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles’s second film, is a sprawling yet contained portrait of a troubled family – and absolutely worth your while.

Copyright © 2021 David Botros