The Magnificent Ambersons (1942

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The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) is the legendary Orson Welles' second film - another audacious masterpiece. It was produced, directed, and scripted (but not acted in) by Welles, a follow-up film one year after his masterful classic Citizen Kane (1941). It was based on Booth Tarkington's 1918 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name, and had been filmed earlier as a black and white silent film from Vitagraph under the title Pampered Youth (1925). This film's screenplay was written by Welles in only nine days. He had first adapted the story for a CBS-radio broadcast (Campbell's Playhouse) with his Mercury Theatre in the fall of 1939, featuring Walter Huston as Eugene Morgan and Welles himself as George Minafer. He used his regulars from Mercury Theatre within this production: Joseph Cotten, Agnes Moorehead and Ray Collins (the only actor in the film who also appeared in the radio version). Although the beautiful, near-masterpiece film is rich in cinematic technique (overlapping dialogue, deep focus cinematography and magnificent lighting, fluid dolly and truck shots, innovative crane shots, iris in-out openings and closing of scenes, long takes, etc.) and layered with complexity and subtle meaning, in its initial preview screening, it was a disastrous flop for its emotionally-downbeat mood, and because of its focal point: a spoiled brat (played by B-Western actor Tim Holt) of the town's richest family and later, as a conceited young man. Ambersons' public previews (in Pomona, California) were considered a disaster due to its being inappropriately double-billed in its premiere showing with a B-comedy starring Lupe Velez titled Mexican Spitfire Sees a Ghost (1942), and because of its original depressing ending. Worried about its financial viability and the unreleasable nature of the film, RKO studios, in Welles' absence while he was in Brazil, proceeded to drastically cut the film, from its originally-edited, first-cut length of 131 minutes down to a mere 88 minutes of both original and reshot footage. More than 50 minutes of original footage were removed - over a third of Welles' original footage, by shortening extended tracking shots, and eliminating or drastically abbreviating other scenes. With a tacked-on, optimistic ending, and with the addition of rewritten/reshot portions of film without the director's approval (under the supervision of editor Robert Wise), it was re-released, and all surviving footage from the original film was destroyed (to prevent any efforts at reconstruction). The remaining, damaged skeleton of a film suffers from disconnectedness and choppiness after its first half, but the film is still remarkable for its acting and visual style, Welles' memorable voice-over narration, Stanley Cortez' cinematographic use of light and shadow, Bernard Herrmann's uncredited musical score, and the extraordinary set construction for the interior of the Ambersons' mansion. [Other films in American film history have been similarly 'ruined' and damaged by studio intervention von Stroheim's Greed (1924), Welles' own The Lady From Shanghai (1948) and Touch of Evil (1958), and John Huston's The Red Badge of Courage (1951).] It was later remade in 2001 at 150 minutes by director Alfonso Arau, aired on cable TV's A & E Network, with stars Bruce Greenwood, Madeleine Stowe, Jonathan Rhys-Davies, James Cromwell, and Jennifer Tilly. In spite of controversies surrounding the film, it was still nominated for four Academy Awards: Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Agnes Moorehead), Best Black and White Cinematography (Stanley Cortez), and Best Black and White Interior Decoration. The story of the film spans two generations (about twenty-five years), and is set at the turn of the century in an upper-middleclass Midwestern American town [Indianapolis, Indiana - identified by the front page of the Indianapolis Inquirer at the end of the film]. This tale is set against the social decline, ruin and fall of the aristocratic Amberson family at the turn of the century with the coming of the industrial age and the rise of the automobile (and the prosperous Morgan family). Industrial and technological progress parallels the decline of the fortunes of the wealthy Amberson family. The film is centered on the ill-fated, middle-aged romance between a struggling (and ultimately prosperous) horseless carriage inventor/manufacturer (Eugene Morgan) and a beautiful, self-less, widowed Amberson matriarch-heiress (Isabel Amberson Minafer). Her selfish, buggy-driving young son (George Amberson Minafer) impedes their pairing and denies her mother's death-bed longing to see him again. A sub-plot chronicles the way in which the insufferable son courts and falls in love with Eugene's daughter Lucy (Anne Baxter), but when she insists that he choose a productive career, he breaks off the relationship. Ultimately, he receives his "come-uppance." The revised ending, in an about-face, infers that Eugene will accept an impoverished and disabled George as his 'son-in-law'.

The Story
Stark white letters on two black backgrounds in two title cards announce:

by a snowball.. went downstairs.. The tone of the eloquent. and he models two fashionable evening overcoats (with accompanying baggy trousers). In that town in those days. gentler era of agrarianism and a landed aristocracy that was fast being replaced by the growth of industrialism. and the action of the film is described in the right column: NARRATION: The magnificence of the Ambersons began in 1873. and these were shaped through fashions that shaped them now with toes like box ends and now with toes like the prows of racing shells. . Eugene Morgan (Joseph Cotten). with horses and buggies passing by and respectably-costumed figures on the sidewalk. High-top boots are soon superceded by shoes and Congress gaiters. radio-announcer style voice-over narrates nostalgic segments taken from the first portion of Tarkington's literary work.. (No. A lady could whistle to it from an upstairs window. . magnificent age . and hence was readymade. . and the car would halt at once. DESCRIPTION OF FILM ACTION: As the film slowly opens from a black background. 1) pulls into view from left to right and stops in front of the house. the crease proved that the garment had lain upon a shelf. In the film's prologue (first ten minutes). Welles' magisterial narration is in the left column. he lengthened his overcoat till it touched his heels. Mrs. The only public conveyance was the streetcar. and he passed out of his tight trousers into trousers like great bags.. suggesting the time period and its fashions and giving the look of old faded photographs in an album. so short that his black coat-tails hung visible five inches below the overcoat. In the film's short beginning. hastily run forward and eventually to take her seat on the streetcar. who has signalled the car from her upstairs window with a cry of 'Yoo-hoo' (not a whistle). the only child of Wilbur] in a stovepipe hat and frock-coat sits in a boat and rows his pretty sweetheart Isabel with a parasol over her shoulder out onto a lake. ornately-framed mirror . put on her hat and coat. bearing a smartly-wrapped gift package under his arm. next it would be a spoon. NARRATION: [This short montage on changing male fashions was inserted here by RKO Studios into the original sequence of the prologue . Morgan leaves his front door. Humorously. Every house still kept its bootjack. stands before an oval mirror and tries on two new styles of derby/bowler hats. Orson Welles in an impressive. men in stovepipe hats drink heartily. urbanism. But hightop boots gave way to shoes and Congress gaiters.but now presented anonymously .. to come downstairs. vignetted effect.. (Protagonists in the drama to follow . as the car waits for a neighbor of the Ambersons. A quaint old horse-drawn streetcar from the Western-Midland Transit Co. and wait for her.which is across the street]. But the long contagion of the 'Derby' had arrived.. this is in fact George Minafer. tall silk thing known to impudence as a stovepipe. Trousers with a crease were considered plebian.' DESCRIPTION OF FILM ACTION: Fashions and customs of the day are rapidly being changed. one season the crown of this hat would be a bucket. The film begins with a memory-image of a disappearing. .. found an umbrella. . while bangs and bustles were having their way with women.] During the earlier years of this period.and came forth from the house. the soundtrack plays Bernard Herrmann's version of Emil Waldteufel's ' 1878 waltz Toujours ou jamais.two kinds of shoes. He also uses a bootjack to try on new styles of shoes.. more democratic styles. and an industrial bourgeoisie. symbolic of their replacement by new.. a gentleman wore a tan overcoat. A stovepipe hat is knocked off a man's head . In a crowded saloon bar with swinging doors.model the older and newer styles. the outer perimeter of the frames are edged or rimmed with a soft-focus. a vain-minded Morgan tries on more new fashions in front of a long.) Wilbur Minafer [unrealistically. Johnson.slightly earlier than Welles had intended. Passengers leisurely get off and mill around. while she shut the window. a young representative of the new industrial bourgeoisie who narcissistically values the latest modern clothing.A MERCURY PRODUCTION by ORSON WELLES THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS From The Novel by BOOTH TARKINGTON After fading to another black screen. beautiful narration chronicles youthful nostalgia and the changing pace of life in society. all the major characters are economically introduced. Their splendor lasted throughout all the years that saw their Midland town spread and darken into a city.from an earlier. there were seen men of all ages to whom a hat meant only that rigid. told the 'girl' what to have for dinner. But after a season or two. With evening dress. two changes of pants (he balances on one leg as he struggles to put them on). Too slow for us nowadays. faded.Major Amberson's head . there is a straight-on shot of a Gothic brick house [it is not the Amberson mansion . all the women who wore silk or velvet knew all the other women who wore silk or velvet and everybody knew everybody else's family horse and carriage. Faintly. in this fashion montage sequence. the less time we have to spare. because the faster we're carried.

the black butler who answers the door informs him that Isabel is "not home. sputters the machine into view. but because she is an industrial pioneer. again functioning like a Greek chorus outside the house that gossips about the public and private lives of the Ambersons. Sam (J. inhabited by the richest family in the town: There it is. and open house on New Years. describe how the proud. he doffs his hat toward "us" and toward various townsfolk.she is amused. bass viol would presently release their melodies to the dulcet stars. At the wheel of his new experimental "horseless carriage. Like a Greek chorus [one of whom is Agnes Moorehead who plays Aunt Fanny]. pallid. At the Amberson gate. the season dissolves and is transformed into the season of spring and then summer and then to twilight on a moon-lit summer night. he is again rejected and told: "No sir. DESCRIPTION OF FILM ACTION: One summer evening. The young man looks up to appeal to the woman at the window with lace curtains . DESCRIPTION OF FILM ACTION: It is now wintertime as the seasons pass by very rapidly . Miss Amberson ain't at home to you. wife of John Barrymore) again." The house is pictured with snow on its roof. The house is strung with pretty lanterns. the only daughter of Major Amberson. Isabel is described as "a delightful-looking young lady". Hot and cold running water. fiddle.) NARRATION: On a summer night. Eugene's disappointing collapse outside the house speaks volumes about the nature of his courtship for Isabel and his long-term relationship with her for the next generation.Sixty thousands dollars worth of woodwork alone. but dull.and leaving his front door . Eugene Morgan's her best beau. As the serenade is mentioned. But he is a little drunk and tipsy .] Against so homespun a background. Took a bit too much to drink the other night right out here and stepped clean through the bass fiddle serenadin' her. [This next scene should have immediately followed the men's fashion montage in the prologue. the Amberson mansion. the image turns dark. she is displeased by the awkward display. young men would bring an orchestra under a pretty girl's window. and all-day picnics in the woods. Louis Johnson).a counterpoint to the notion that "they had time for everything. and balls. bringing another bouquet of flowers for . Eugene Morgan walks along the street (Amberson Blvd." On a second attempt with a bouquet of flowers.. Major Amberson's daughter. the magnificence of the Ambersons was as conspicuous as a brass band at a funeral. Mr.Isabel. colorless and passionless gentleman named Wilbur Minafer (Don Dillaway). and the only light that glows is on the left of the frame. Then. Morgan. the moon disappears.NARRATION: In those look good and call for Isabel after the embarrassing incident on her front lawn. At the upstairs window behind lace curtains. (Visually. and assemblies. and even that prettiest of all vanished customs: the serenade. withdrawing and spurning Eugene. The pride of the town.) in daylight. harp. Isabel witnesses the spectacle when he disgraces himself and is sprawled before her. cornet. the narration speaks of the release of melodies to the dulcet stars). He has come to call on the beautiful Isabel Amberson (Dolores Costello. and flute. they had time for everything: Time for sleigh rides. Eugene approaches the Amberson's front door with a frosted panel and rings the bell. cello.he trips and rolls over backwards. upstairs and down. and cotillions.. Eugene runs with his bass fiddle and a group of other youthful musicians with their instruments into the foreground to serenade Isabel Amberson under her window." The group of anonymous bystanders. powerful Amberson family disapproves of Eugene's antics and awkward courtship (and his non-aristocratic status): I guess she's still mad at him." Eugene . She frowns and turns away reprovingly. Boys throw snowballs at each other. And stationary washstands in every last bedroom in the place.she is also being courted a dependable and respectable.. He bears a smartly-wrapped gift package under his arm for a lady. Horse-drawn sleighs pass the front gates from left to right. making a clown of himself as he crunches and splinters his bass viol beneath him (in obvious contradiction.. they narratively comment on the many splendors of the Amberson dwelling. with Eugene dressing himself up .

grown people they were.] George. hateful.She couldn't love Wilbur. it'll all go to her children.. dominates the scene and shows total disregard for his accusers or family behind him. Although there is "only one" child . as the story follows instead the life of Isabel's adored progeny . (pause) unless I get mad at somebody. daredevil brat dressed in velveteen and with golden ringlets in his hair.. George Amberson Minafer. And she'll be a good wife to him." As the scene cuts. When derisively called "girlie curlie" by the son of the local lawyer Benson (Erskine Sanford).. And then Wilbur will take Isabel on the carefulest little wedding trip he can manage. Made her think he didn't care much about her. She's probably mistaken but it's too late for her to think anything else now.. The band from out of town. whipping his buggy pony. positioned in the foreground. Careening by. They did hope to live to see the day. her prophetic prediction about Isabel's marriage (and child) is close to the truth: (Welles' voice in narration) The prophetess proved to be mistaken in a single detail merely. Although indulged and adored by his mother. (Welles' continues) Again.with a mischievous last word: Isabel (to George): You must promise me never to use those bad words again. but he again suffers rejection and disappointment from her outside an ice cream shop. Uncle Jack (Ray Collins) turns around toward the camera from the barber's chair and describes Wilbur to the audience: "Wilbur? Wilbur Minafer? I never thought he'd get her.. the Major's one grandchild." [The word 'Hell' is blatantly censored as Benson shouts back "What?!"] In the garden of the Amberson mansion after the fight. the pair fight and wrestle on the lawyer's front lawn. Young George Minafer (Bobby Cooper) . George rebelliously punches him in the stomach when Benson calls him a "disgrace" and a "bad little boy.I mean. she found none to challenge her.Wilbur and Isabel did not have children.[he is not an Amberson] is introduced while riding recklessly through town in a tiny carriage. sheltering mother requests that he never use bad language again.. who expressed themselves longingly. he'd have to go around to the side door. was a princely terror. The words of the off-screen narrator are questioned by a married couple in the street: Wife: His what? Husband: His come-uppance! Something's bound to take him down someday. they had only one. he upsets a gardener with a hoe. and she'll ruin them. when that boy would get his come-uppance. [The characters in the scene look like tableaux figures posed before an artistic backdrop of an old painting. Foster (Anne O'Neal) gossips to a group of women in a dressmaker's shop (a typical site for female gossip) about the planned Amberson-Minafer marriage . could she? Well. Raw oysters floating in scooped-out blocks of ice. squeezed to the right side of the frame. But they'll have the worst-spoiled lot of children this town will ever see. Benson views the scrappy fight from a window." "story-teller" and as "riff-raff. (Mrs. he causes his grandfather to laugh boisterously: "Grandpa wouldn't wipe his shoe on that old storyteller.. Wilbur may not be any Apollo." Although his doting.he is a spoiled. what do ya know? Well." A neighbor of the Ambersons. but he's a steady young business man. George: I promise not to. as it were. insufferable." Taking center stage in a lordly manner. As time passes. none of us Ambersons wouldn't have anything to do with them. they said.a love-less marriage of convenience after Eugene's disgraceful and clumsy courtship: What she minds is his (Eugene) makin' a clown of himself in her own front yard..] Within a barber shop (a typical site for male gossip)." After inaccurately referring to himself as an Amberson. everyone in town longs to see George receive his ultimate "come-uppance": There were people.his sweetheart. I'll bet if he wanted to see any of us. . The wedding will be a big Amberson-style thing. Foster's voice intones) Only one! But I'd like to know if he isn't spoiled enough for a whole carload. Wilbur. George half-heartedly assents to her wishes .. he loudly and angrily tells the parent to "Go to . George (wearing a kilt and tam-o'-shanter) is reprimanded by his parents and aged patriarch Major Amberson (Richard Bennett) as he stands formally in front of them. Well. George conceitedly and haughtily denounces the neighbor as a "liar. an underwear-dressed Mrs. exasperatedly rapping on the glass: "Boy! Boy!" After he comes out and drags the two boys apart.George. I only want to be there.. Eugene disappears from the film for awhile. [After his frustrated but hopeful attempt to win Isabel's love. reads only a sentence from a letter written by a concerned citizen about George's foul use of language: "This was heard not only by myself but by my wife and the lady who lives next door.

They ought to go to a man's college for about a year. calling him "the queer looking guy" as Ludy's father talks to one of Major Amberson's two grown-up children. Lucy shows great maturity and sound judgment and refuses to be drawn into George's criticism of her male acquaintances or her father.carrying on the tradition of an attraction between a Morgan and an Amberson." George shows a bit of disapproving contempt for her father's interests: "Horseless Carriage! Automobile!" As they sit and talk on the stairway. Minafer.her father. They'd get taught a few things about freshness. She tells George that her father." George is quickly offended by all the men who are friendly and greet Lucy. gliding tracking shot (with deep focus perspective). When Eugene is reunited with Isabel in the hallway. Fanny reacts with . George: Oh." A ball is held at the Amberson mansion in George's honor and as an old friend of the family.Anybody that really is anybody ought to be able to go about as they like in their own town. George is unconscious of her father's identity.the "queer-looking duck" waving at them while he is dancing with Aunt Fanny (Agnes Moorehead).he passes through town again like a charioteer in a horse and buggy. flowing dolly/tracking shot." His remark causes Isabel to blush.unaware of who the gentleman is. George: What must be wonderful? Lucy: To be so important as that." As Eugene walks forward and calls up to ask Lucy for a dance (with Aunt Fanny on his arm). Mr. The elderly Major Amberson teases Isabel about her rejection of Eugene when he was drunk: "Isabel. he tells her: "The family always liked to have someone in Congress.. Wilbur Minafer's unmarried. whipping one of the bystanders: ". and she with him. Lucy: Maybe she didn't want to offend their fathers and mothers." George has a disdainful feeling about most females: "Most girls are usually pretty fresh. are you enjoying the party?" Around a gleaming punch bowl. rudely remarking: "How'd all these ducks get to know you so quick?" He is slightly annoyed that his mother invited them: George: I really don't see why my mother invited them. past stained-glass windows. With characteristic stupidity. George leaves the reception line and takes her arm-inarm for a long stroll through the richly-decorated mansion toward the upstairs dancing hall in a long. On their way as they gracefully glide through the mansion elegantly enriched with Edwardian craftsmanship. splendid mansion the night of the lavish party . Uncle Jack Amberson. I mean. I should think." He is quickly attracted to Lucy and instantly falls for her .nothing about him encouraged any hope that he had received his come-uppance. George: I hardly think that my mother need worry about offending anybody in this old town. George (with white gloves and a carnation in his buttonhole) stands with his mother (dressed in a gorgeous ball gown) in the reception line and greets everyone assuredly (but falsely): "I remember you very well indeed. and down the long corridor of the second story. attractive daughter Lucy Morgan (Anne Baxter in her film debut) back to the town where he was born and to the place where he was previously denied admission. bringing his now-grown. a Congressman. Mr.winddraft-swept and with the sound of tinkling crystal chandeliers and Christmas tree ornaments. that isn't important.. The marvelously fluid tracking shot follows them across the entrance hall. including Eugene's incident with the bass viol that ultimately led to Wilbur's marriage to Isabel. Fanny moves out of the frame as Isabel moves in and asks her son: "George dear. he foolishly insults Eugene. shrill-voiced sister who moved in with the Ambersons following Isabel's marriage. George is taken aback when he learns that the flowers Lucy carries were given to her by the same man . he obviously still retains his love for her. In a long." Simultaneously.. up the oak stairs.. Hon.During the holidays. the family members recall family relationships. Eugene is invited to the winter's social function . is a successful inventor "working on a new kind of horseless carriage. and this pageant of the tenantry was the last of the great long-remembered dances that everybody talked about. the man he was derisively calling "a queer looking duck. I remember the last drink Gene ever had. Lucy expresses how she now understands "what it means to be a real Amberson in this town. Lucy: It must be wonderful. George is again repulsed by the "freshness" of her father . [From this point on until much later in the film. the voice-over narration ceases. George immediately takes a dislike for Eugene . The Story (continued) In the large lobby of the front hall as a orchestra plays a minuet in the background. Amberson. To impress Lucy. Eugene and Lucy enter from the snowy outside into the two front doors of the exquisite.] Eugene Morgan returns to his hometown after eighteen years' absence as a widower.the last magnificent Amberson occasion: Cards were out for a ball in his honor. George Minafer (Tim Holt) returns at age twenty as a sophomore from his schooling without any change in his arrogant personality and air of superiority . a widower.

Eugene refers to another important result of his loss of Isabel: There's another important thing. bankers..and attempts to slyly remind Eugene that Isabel is permanently married but that she is available: "The important thing is that Wilbur did get her. I guess. they're not old. for me.People aren't gonna spend their lives lying on their backs in the road letting grease drip in their faces.a cheerful deduction as she compliments her brother Wilbur . Lucy: No? George: No. optimistic dawn of "new times" for further romance: Jack: Eighteen years have passed. Isabel expresses her worry to George about Wilbur's health and his bad investments: "It seems to me he looks so badly. the other looking into the future for love.. That's a fine career for a man. continuous take as they exuberantly dance forward toward the camera . politicians. Eugene and Isabel say a hushed. There aren't any times but new times.. During the leavetaking.. amid many other overlapping voices: "Goodnight Isabel. it's the only thing that makes me forgive that bass viol for getting in my way. George: Oh.He's been worried about some investments he made last year.expecting to never enter a profession but live on his family's fortune: Lucy: What are you studying at school? George: College. I'd like to know. lots of useless guff. the older lovers Eugene and Isabel are still gracefully gliding together on the darkened. Lucy: Why not? George: Well. Not a bit. In fact. they're dead. that is. useful? Lucy: Something you'd use later in your business or profession. one reclaiming its love. in a conversation around the great upstairs landing of the darkened Amberson's staircase.] George tells Lucy that he finds the automobile repulsive and Eugene's line of work worthless: Horseless Carriages! Automobiles!.Lucy. realizing how much her father once loved Isabel: "You liked her pretty well once. No. George: I don't intend to go into any business or profession.. and ends with the children of their separate marriages dancing.. Running down from an upper stairs landing. Can't help but be. old times certainly are starting all over again. she cheerfully asks above the noisy clattering of the automobile engine: "Do you think George is terribly arrogant and domineering?" Eugene replies: "Oh. [It is a symbolic representation of the two generations." He admits that she is right: "Yep. waltzing to a plaintive violin tune amid the shadows." With a loving look at his daughter as she passes by from his left and crosses into the foreground. but he condemns the lives of businessmen . Eugene: Old times. When times are gone. but have they?. Plenty of fine stuff in him. Lucy: College. There aren't any old times. Goodnight Eugene. just look at them. the camera moves backward in a long. What do they ever get out of life. Lucy questions George about what he studies in school and what he wants to become in life. ragtime-style rhythm. Do still. As Lucy and her father depart in their open-air horseless carriage. What do they know about real things? What do they ever get? Lucy: What do you want to be? George (fatuously): A yachtsman! (Lucy reacts with astonishment) When the ball is near its end..By gosh. In a scene that begins with the older generation dancing. is he?. simple goodnight to each other. Profiles are silhouetted against a window thickly framed in ice and frost. I think the worry's affected his health. Eugene stands with Uncle Jack in front of a fireplace (with mantel and mirror) before he takes Isabel for a dance.until it picks up the younger couple of Lucy and George who enter from the left. the youthful pair of George and Lucy sit in a lighted space at the foot of the staircase closeby and watch their parents. He's Isabel Amberson's son. isn't it? Lawyers." After exerting his forceful will over Lucy during the goodbyes. George invites Lucy for an afternoon sleigh ride the next day. They wistfully refer to "old times" (when he used to court her) and the hopeful. but kept her. and not only got her. Lucy: Why don't you study some useful guff? George: What do you mean. I think your father better forget about 'em.. he's still only a boy." Meanwhile." George is very forthright: "What investments? He isn't going into Morgan's automobile concern. unedited." determined that Amberson financing not be used for Eugene's horseless carriage venture. To the accompaniment of an upbeat. Papa. deserted dance floor. one that forebodes family rivalry. Before the young pair themselves dance backward and fade away into a group of other dancers behind them on the dance floor. ." Lucy smiles back.

can't people be glad to see an old friend without silly children like you having to make a to-do about it? I've just been suggesting to your mother that she might give a little dinner for him.. George is convinced that the Ambersons are treating Eugene too cordially. But I believe he's done fairly well of late years. and worried. who has always been infatuated with Eugene. graceful movement of the horse and sleigh speeds past Eugene's new but stalled motor carriage (with passengers Isabel. luminously reflected in a frozen pool of water. Fanny.. Uncle Jack (protesting off camera): I'm gonna move to a hotel.. Sometimes you say things that show you have a pretty mean little mind. Fanny: Excited! Uncle Jack: Oh. Suddenly. overworked. and George calls out: Get a horse! Get a horse! George is humiliated when their sleigh overturns and tips over. and I doubt if he needs anybody else's money to back his horseless carriage. looking harried. Mother mustn't do that. and then turning nervously hysterical): Wouldn't look. He mercilessly teases Fanny about her interest and fondness for the widower Eugene. Why do you say such a thing? George: He just strikes me as that sort of a man. George (mocking her): For whom. On the way to Fanny's room in a shadowy tense scene [a grotesque shadow of a peacock is behind Fanny's profile]. Her retaliatory mocking of George is ineffective . appears in the background of the corridor with Jack.. memorable winter scene in the film.. shut up. Isn't he father? Wilbur: He was a fairly wild fellow twenty years ago. You're trying to insinuate that I get your mother to invite Eugene Morgan here on my account. Isabel: Georgie. Fanny (repeating the phrase to mock him): Mother mustn't do that. George: For who? Fanny (correcting): For whom. Only he didn't have any mother to get money out of her grandfather for it. Uncle Jack: Are you two at it again? George: What makes you and everybody so excited over this man Morgan? Uncle Jack: This man Morgan.. Fanny (in an hysterical. and the sled spills the couple over and down a mound into a drift of snow. Their gay. George: Wouldn't look well. Georgie. Georgie. about this man Morgan and his old sewing machine.. George: What upsets you this much? Uncle Jack: Shut up! Fanny: I know what you mean.Wilbur appears in the doorway of his bedroom in a dressing gown. Fanny (repeating the phrase to mock him.. It has become bogged down in the snow and Eugene struggles to crank the sputtering Morgan Motor and set it free. George and Lucy are seen whirling along in a horse-drawn sleigh. off-pitch outburst): Can't. sparkling ride is accompanied by the tinkling of bells incorporated into the soundtrack. Georgie. George: What? Fanny: What? George: Ha. She defends Eugene's business affairs. The juxtaposition of two time periods is beautifully contrasted: the silent.. He spent too much money. Don't they want to get grandfather to put some money into it? Isn't that what he's up to? Fanny: You little silly! What on earth are you talking about? Eugene Morgan's perfectly able to finance his own inventions these days. joyous.because he's a widower. Eugene is relieved that Lucy isn't injured: "The snow bank's . George: Oh look here.See here Georgie Minafer! I suggest that you just march straight on into your room. then? Wilbur: I'm sure I don't know. Fanny: . [an authentic 1905 Model Sears] decorated with a tasseled canopy. You'll want to ask him. ha.. Don't do that. Morgan and his daughter.Wilbur is conspicuously absent).she betrays some self-pity and jealousy of Eugene's love for Isabel: Fanny: Eugene Morgan isn't in your father's thoughts at all one way or the other. Fanny: For Mr. arguing that he is not out to woo Amberson money: George: Look here. what's he brought the old thing here for. The spinsterish Fanny. George and Lucy pass the horseless carriage. George: I'll bet he borrows money from Uncle Jack. and Uncle Jack . Why should he be?. He's like you in one thing. ha. (Fanny cackles back in mock laughter at him) I'm trying to insinuate that you're setting your cap for him and getting mother to help you? Fanny: OH! (Fanny slams her door on him) George: Is that what you mean? In the next. much-celebrated. father. But they are unhurt and steal a kiss from each other. George: Oh.

Later. the camera slowly irises-out on the car [a tribute to older silent films]. although he appears embarrassed by her attention in front of the others: "Don't make a fuss. Aunt Fanny becomes increasingly agitated and distressed." They are led back to the horseless carriage through the bare branches of the wooded area for the rest of their trip. townspeople discuss the death of Wilbur Minafer: "Wilbur Minafer. paying their last respects. Fanny. conveys the fact that a death has occurred: a major turning point in the film. a lightning bolt strikes as rain sweeps across the Amberson mansion at nighttime. The town will hardly know he's gone.. A black. because of the harsh editing. one with considerable narrative economy and restraint. telling her that Eugene is dressing up specially to impress her. He says he's going to have wheels all made of rubber and blown up with air. (Fanny begins to break down and runs from the room) . Oh. he's dressing up. In ominous fashion. rises from the table. never identified explicitly. With the camera shooting from the vantage point of the interior of the coffin.] In the huge Amberson kitchen.a featherbed. And he certainly is dressing better than he used to. Their horse Pendennis gallops away. George: Listen Aunt Fanny. don't they? Plus one and minus one equal nothing.." although Isabel thinks the two words are exact opposites: Isabel: Divinely ridiculous just counterbalance each other. Uncle Jack enters the kitchen behind them as George makes passing. Fanny shrewdly tries to talk above the noise of the engine to Lucy in order to get Eugene's attention and impress him with her comments .an entrance mirroring their earlier entrance into the ball scene." she describes it. George has just graduated from college and received his diploma at commencement. At the end of the entire sequence. turning the screen black.. somber. [The coffin is never shown. Uncle Jack: Quite well. When the 'Morgan Invincible' stalls again.Please mother. please. Everyone happily sings: "The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo" .. the camera never moves as Fanny brings a large piece of fresh strawberry shortcake to her nephew George. teasing comments about Fanny's infatuation for Eugene Morgan. It really does too. Eugene's shadow enters the doorway before his own body . respectfully-silent family members pass by during the reception in a fluid take. "Hope it's big enough.It's so interesting. She is the one family member most affected by the death . In the next scene." With a napkin tucked into his collar. I'm all right. In fact." [The decline of the Ambersons' fortune begins with the death of Wilbur Minafer.. Eugene compliments Isabel: "You're the same Isabel I used to know . Eugene asks George to "push" and he must breathe in smelly exhaust fumes from the detestable horseless carriage. is laid out in the Amberson library." George is obsessively fussed over by his mother as she continues to brush snow off him. So you mean I'm nothing in particular? Eugene: No. George: Well. Sensitive to their criticism.a song about money as an entertaining plaything as the camera focuses on the beautiful faces of the singing occupants (even Fanny) in close-up. a considerable amount of time has passed and it leaves the viewer confused.. I should think they'd explode. and slams the door as she leaves the kitchen: George: Well it struck me that Mr. After ring the bell. They both torment Fanny unmercilessly. The scene ends on a particularly striking but ambiguous close-up of Aunt Fanny's anguished face with tears streaking down.Eugene seems very confident. circular funeral wreath. as the car with merry singers moves up to the horizon in the lower right hand side of the frame. Jack tells me the fact he's been doing quite well. Tormented by Eugene's regard for Isabel.. [It is wrong to assume that this is the day of Wilbur's funeral. George. mother.Don't eat so fast.of her brother.] At the start of the next scene. it seems so like old times to hear him talk. George eats gluttonously. in contrast to the circular halo of the dark iris that closed the previous scene. and then reinforces Isabel's maternally protective attitude toward him: "It's the first of the season. I shouldn't be a bit surprised to have him request an interview and declare that his intentions are honorable. you ought to be a little encouraging when a prized bachelor begins to show by his haberdashery what he wants you to think about him. Wilbur Minafer's body. mourners (Eugene and Lucy) are let into the house by the black butler . that doesn't seem to be precisely what I meant. Morgan was looking pretty absent-minded most of the is "so like old times" in the past to have a second opportunity to catch Eugene: Your father wanted to prove that his horseless carriage would run even in the snow..] Fanny observes as Eugene takes Isabel's arm and they go out of the frame.. Her tears may also reflect her worry or fury about the possibility of a future romance between widower Eugene and widowed Isabel.'re a divinely ridiculous woman.. Uncle Jack: Oh. Eugene's shadow falls onto the frosted panels on the outside of the wooden oak doors of the Amberson mansion as sinister musical chords play on the soundtrack. A quiet will be the final time that he will ever enter the Amberson doorway.Sweet enough?. he isn't dressing better.

. Eugene. dear. except her feeling about Eugene. the new houses become run-down and dirty. There. Give him your hand. and earn a livelihood: . paying attention only to Isabel and ignoring Fanny.."). Prop. subdivided and sold by the new owners.] In one of his horseless carriages. displayed museum style with a canopy hood: "Remember this. Fanny hasn't got much in her life. We know what brother Jack thinks about it. where he takes her hand and encourages her to tell Georgie of their love: Eugene: Isabel. They are followed. in turn. If brother Jack were here. There are concrete blocks and bricks all around . to convey the passage of time. Escorting an excited Isabel and Aunt Fanny along with Lucy and George. Eugene: I used to write verse about twenty years ago. but she rejects him because he boastfully refuses to go into a business or profession. Eugene: I think he should hear it from you. As Uncle Jack speaks. horse-drawn carriage with Lucy as they travel along (signboards behind them identify "Middletown Hardware Co. Really don't know of anything much Fanny has got. You know George.and he grieves about the loss of another victim for his own entertainment: It's getting so that you can't joke with her about anything anymore. George. Eugene introduces his first Morgan auto." "Telegraph Office.the immense grounds surrounding the Amberson mansion are being dug up to build houses. Our first machine.] The Story (continued) Two clangs of a blacksmith working at an anvil are heard to anticipate the next scene .Major Amberson has had to sell off parcels of land around the house in order to raise money for the estate. Eugene's fortunes begin to rise. Eugene is now free to pursue Isabel.] Isabel: I remember.[In the process of re-editing.. Fanny. and then he thanks them: Isabel: It makes us all happy Eugene. [The next beautiful scene appeared much later in the original film where it was much more appropriate. we found out that father's estate was all washed up and he didn't leave anything. Lucy realizes how proud her father is. who has been smitten by Lucy. Isabel (lovingly): He will. and she is freer to respond to his love. Eugene: I'm almost thinking I could do it again. As Fanny looks adoringly at Eugene. This property is. he tells Isabel that he is considering reviving his writing of poetry." "Elite Cleaners and Dyers." and "Barber Shop: Tony Gentry. and Papa looks as if he were going to either explode or utter loud sounds. Eugene and Isabel sit under a tree. I thought she'd feel better when he turned over his insurance to her. With greater concern for his sister. George is startled and surprised by what he sees outside the window . [Here. With all the gambling. especially Isabel: "Did you ever see anything so lovely. settle down. [The following scene appeared directly after the scene of the automobile factory visit in the original film. Isabel: Yes. is a more recent Morgan Motor Car. Soon.] George tries to explain away Aunt Fanny's deep hurt by complaining about her inability to be teased .] After the death of Wilbur." [It is an original 1893 Steam Motor Car. Eugene: Don't you think you should tell George? Isabel: About us? Eugene: Yes. The original Morgan Invincible. George abstractedly walks toward the window.she's a darling. of George in his run-about. In the garden of the Ambersons' mansion. Uncle Jack regrets his cruelty: I think we've been teasing her about the wrong things. Eugene takes Isabel and Aunt Fanny for a ride down the main street of town." Eugene stands between Isabel and Fanny. Soon. though. Isabel: There's still time. just being an Aunt isn't really the great career it sometimes seemed to be. virtually all of the material that deals specifically and directly with the causes and nature of the economic decline of the Ambersons was eliminated. as he is carried away by the delighted guests.. Eugene would have his three oldest and best friends congratulating him all at your mother [Isabel] . dearest. with a very long tracking shot. (To Isabel) Remember that? Isabel: I remember that too. As the Ambersons' fortunes decline. Aunt Fanny: How quaint! Next to it.sparks fly during a visit to the noisy Morgan Motor factory. proposes to her. To thank you for making a factory visit into such a kind celebration. As the city spreads to the suburbs. a key scene was cut from the original version of the film." "Perkis Construction Co." a "Pool and Billiard Hall.

but instead establish suburbs in the outlying areas where those who could afford it would move. [The scene appears to come out of nowhere. George. Lucy: What kind? George: Whatever appeals to me. George: Lucy. what's the matter? You look as if you're gonna cry. I expect to lead an honorable life. in movements.What's unsettled? Lucy: Well for one thing. Major Amberson: What about? Not getting remorseful about all the money he spent at college. and take part in. The scene. with quickly-cut shots. and he's right about that part of you. Jack. To carry forward the symmetry. George: Well why do you? Lucy: One reason is because I have a feeling it's never gonna be. ha. Everything's so unsettled. bring more commerce to the center of the industrial cities. I expect to contribute my share to charities. Ha. Vindictive toward her successful entrepreneurial father. She's spending a week with a school friend. During after-dinner conversation. As the scene continues. obliquely referring to the financial difficulties of the Major and the effect the town is having on him: Uncle Jack: Your grandson.. You always do that whenever I can get you to talk about marrying me.Lucy: I know when you make him (the horse) walk. or trying law cases. George's carriage passes a shabby. isn't that so.] With dark lighting evoking a death-like hearse. George (embarrassed and angered over . haven't you perfectly well understood that I don't intend to go into a business or adopt a profession? Lucy: Then. begins when George suffers embarrassment over his relationship with Lucy: Isabel: Lucy's on a visit. I suppose you two [George and Lucy] aren't speaking again. Father. and filled with images containing contrasting areas of light and dark]..the six characters are seated on the ends and sides of the table. The "devilish machines" would not. I don't know. Didn't know that he might break down and cry if we tried to speak of it. ha. ha. as thought. Georgie didn't approve. so there's the answer. Major Amberson: What part? Uncle Jack: Heart. it's so you can give all your attention to proposing to me again. you haven't decided on anything to do yet. hanging in mid-air without any reference point. what are you going to do George? George: Why. you've never spoken of it. Aunt Fanny: (Aunt Fanny leans out from behind George and goads him about Lucy) George. who has spurred the development of the automobile industry through his life's work... Eugene.. how does it happen you didn't tell us before? He never said a word to us about Lucy going away! Major Amberson: Probably afraid to. and you oughtn't to be engaged to me until I do?" Independent-minded Lucy denies ever having spoken to Eugene about the issue. Eugene: She'll be back Monday. selling potatoes. father. dark coach carrying Uncle Jack and Major Amberson. Lucy: I know it. he seemed inclined to melancholy. George blames Lucy's rejection of him on the ideals of her father Eugene that have adversely influenced her views toward him: "Isn't it your father's idea that I have to go into a business. Last night. Rolling over us and burying us under. Uncle Jack: Gold. if you aren't the prettiest thing in this world. Or at least if you have.. well.I don't believe in the whole world scrubbing dishes. This town seems to be rolling right over that old heart you mentioned just now. Georgie? (He laughs at George) Aunt Fanny (to George): Or didn't Lucy tell you that she was going? George: She told me! Major Amberson: At any rate. George: . Eugene has been invited as a guest of the Ambersons . George: Lucy dear. At a dinner party held at the Ambersons in a visually striking scene [the dining room scene is cinematographically superb dramatically filmed with a wide-angle lens that creates an extreme depth-of-field. When are you going to say we're really engaged? Lucy: Not for years. sometimes. Major Amberson: I suppose that may account for how heavy it feels nowadays. George: Lucy. No. I dare say I don't care any more for your father's ideals than he does for mine. responds that an automobile revolution has begun that will change life in the growing city. is he? I wonder what he thinks I'm made of. because of heavy editing. they are discussing George's flamboyant spending of money. he asserts: Do you think I'd be very much of a man if I let another man dictate to me my own way of life?. Jack asks Eugene about talk that someone else is competitively opening up a horseless carriage shop somewhere out in the suburbs. George: You haven't any reason? Lucy: It's just a feeling.

If you weren't so thoughtless. you're always picking on me. throughout the film. You're doing just the right thing. George: Why the mysterious detective business? You make me dizzy! Fanny: You don't care to hear that I approve of what you're doing? George: For the gosh sakes.. Automobiles. They had no business to be invented.the topic of Lucy) becomes deliberately rude. I shouldn't be able to defend the gasoline engine but would have to agree with George: that automobiles had no business to be invented." and "Poetry." "Charity. troubling questions are continually raised . and why doesn't Isabel really stand up to George and insist on a union with Eugene?]: Well. and offensive toward Eugene. Feeling empathetic to Eugene. George: (He turns his back on her and tries to walk away." "Music. Uncle Jack: Oh. With all their speed forward. and then reveals that Isabel never really cared for any other man in her life but Eugene. But automobiles have come. 'Automobiles are a useless nuisance. She strategically lets slip the idea that the romance between Eugene and Isabel caused gossip throughout the entire town. Because if people go to moving that far. BR> Uncle Jack (rebuking): Of course you forget Mr. who has witnessed George's behavior. philosophising about the growth of the new invention: the automobile. George becomes infuriated and suspicious: Fanny: George! You've struck just the right treatment to adopt. He didn't seem to me to be hurt. Major.. Also did his share in inventing them. And almost all outward things are going to be different because of what they bring.' Never amount to anything but a nuisance. bad-mannered. It may be that in ten or twenty years from now. Remarkably tolerant. I hope you're wrong. It may be that they won't add to the beauty of the world or the life of men's souls. that's a new way of winning a woman. whom he believes disapproves of his marriage to Lucy: Eugene: Automobiles will carry our streets clear out to the county line. gentle. Isabel: He was hurt. [This is the first of two scenes between George and Fanny on the staircase. It can't be stopped. admitting that there may be dangers inherent in progress: I'm not sure George is wrong about automobiles. By jove. (The sound of the dropping of the spoon in his hand to the table signals the end to his thoughts. antagonistic insult. for a young fellow to go deliberately out of his way to try to make an enemy of her father by attacking his business.) Ever since you were a little boy! George (scornfully): Oh. They're going to alter war and they're going to alter peace. it's a new style of courting a pretty girl. restrained. With composure and reflection as he strokes a spoon. Major Amberson: So your devilish machines are gonna ruin all your old friends. I must say. speaks to him. eh Gene? Do you really think they're gonna change the face of the land? Eugene: They're already doing it. critical. Isabel mildly rebukes her son with deeply felt emotion: Isabel: Georgie dear. What makes you think he was hurt? Isabel: I know him.) Fanny (bitterly): Oh. what in the world is wrong with you? (Fanny starts climbing the stairs. follows them as they climb to each of the successive landings of the staircase where stained-glass windows are labeled "Faith. [Indeed. always! (George pursues her up the stairs.] The camera . 'It's nobody but old Fanny. he might think you're rather offensive. He seemed perfectly cheerful. Following the dinner party.) After a pause. at first approving of him for his outrageous behavior at the dinner table. conceited. in the hall of the Amberson mansion. what did you mean? George: Just what I said. industrialist/entrepreneur Eugene is uncharacteristically kind toward George's self-centered." "Hope. Over-reacting. they may be a step backward in civilization. The individuals around the table struggle with their bewildered reactions to the attack that George has perpetrated upon Eugene's enterprise. except old Fanny! 'Old Fanny. George: I don't see why he should be. so . And it may be that George is right.why is Eugene such a vile threat for George. if we can see the inward change in men by that time.' you say. I didn't say anything about him. he elegantly and beautifully delivers a very significant speech. I'm not sure. Eugene excuses himself from the table and departs for his automobile shop.) Oh. And I think men's minds are going to be changed in subtle ways because of automobiles. my gosh! Fanny: You wouldn't treat anybody in the world like this. George: Automobiles are a useless nuisance. single take of almost three minutes. Major Amberson (reprimanding): What did you say George? George: I said." A self-pitying Fanny confesses her loneliness following her brother Wilbur's death. real estate values here in the old residence part of town will be stretched pretty thin. Morgan makes them. discourteous. Uncle Jack believes George is an enigmatic "puzzle" for his style of courtship of Eugene's daughter. crass. Fanny. and non-vindictive. what do you want? Fanny: Your father would thank you if he could see what you're a long.

' I suppose they'd say. and now you say.. George is forcefully incensed that Isabel had once been engaged to Eugene.. this isn't a courtroom. who is positioned in front of a mirror (with a reflection of Jack in the tub seen in the mirror) is criticized by Jack: "Oh.) George (severely): What did you say?! Fanny: Of course... (He slams the door. Anyhow. Johnson. it was about you! He said people might be laughing about the way you ran after Morgan. George: You mean Morgan might have married you? Fanny: No. George: Look here! Just what do you mean? Fanny: I only wanted to say that I'm sorry for you. ridiculous old Fanny. George: You told me mother never saw him except when she was chaperoning you. is the source of the malicious gossip about his mother. and watches George from above. still talking) if I hadn't seen that somebody else had told you. George: Somebody else had told me what? Fanny: How people are talking about your mother.) Fanny (hysterically): It's only poor old lonely Fanny! George (furiously): Jack said that if there was any gossip. now or at any other time.. Fanny: Oh yes. that's all. a straight-laced old woman. I understood what you were doing when you started being rude to Eugene. Everybody in this town knows that Isabel never really cared for any other man in her life.. before my father died? Fanny: Why.) Fanny: . convincing him of her manufactured version of reality. incorrectly identifying him for the second time in the film [at the ball. You said mother let him come here just on your account. Perhaps you'll understand this. or that his mother may have loved Eugene while Wilbur was alive. lace-curtained window. Besides. she was in love with him before. Fanny: Well. Hammer her! Hammer her! George: Jack said. charging her with spreading gossip with other neighbors about "a scandal" that involved his mother's name. do you? They just thought I didn't count! 'It's only Fanny Minafer.(She moves out of the frame. George. Lucy called him Mr. He hysterically rushes out to confront the neighbor. George: I believe I'm going crazy.) Thinking that one of Fanny's friends. Tully Johnson.) so whatever she says. opens up her parlor door to her living room and welcomes George in. Jack bathes in an Amberson bathroom. and I'm not a defendant in a libel suit!" She orders him out of her house ("Please to leave my house"). With convincing theatricality and cunning. (George didn't know that Eugene had been calling for Isabel's romantic attention. driving and all that.. (Fanny starts ascending the next flight of stairs with George following. now you have done it!" George is astounded that Jack can "speak so calmly" of a possible marriage between Eugene and Isabel: "That you can sit there and speak of it! Your own sister!" When Eugene arrives on his motorcar and walks up the front walk to the Amberson house to call on Isabel for a drive. Nothing! George: Oh. George! Don't you know that's what they say? You must know that everybody in town.. George ..I'll kick her. But it's only old Fanny. and that gossips in the town talk of Eugene's love for his widowed mother.. George: What's that? Fanny: Everybody knows it. You mean you lied when you told me there wasn't any talk? Fanny: It never would have amounted to anything if Wilbur had lived." she then defends herself: "Really. I mean Mr. (George climbs the stairs to the next landing and stops in front of Fanny.. Fanny: He did. you don't suppose that stops people from talking. George impulsively feels he must defend his mother's honor/reputation and rise to action. although the meaning of the word in these two contexts is quite different. ha.You're not wanted in this house. he liked to dance with me.(They stop in front of the balustrade. pick on her for it. George?" Mrs. (Fanny turns and continues up the stairs with George following up to the next landing. Mr. never in the world would have told you about it or even made the faintest reference to it. He danced with me as much as he did with her. I'll kick her all I want to!' And you're right.playing the role of Sam the butler . or you'd have found out for yourself in some way. He slams the door as Fanny screams in a panic from the top landing: "What are you going to do. they think that they were right in saying that she was. not Fanny's.. it's always Fanny. because I don't know that I'd have accepted him. everybody knew he'd been engaged to her. but that was all. I haven't got anything in the world since my brother died. Nobody. Eugene had called Isabel 'divinelyridiculous'. Morgan.. ha. my gosh! Fanny: I never.) I knew you'd give Lucy up in a minute if it came to a question of your mother's reputation. In the next scene. George: Look here! (She stops. George. At first agreeing that the issue is "a topic of comment about town. Minafer.." As the camera glides through the door and into her cluttered living room. always! [Earlier in the snowy ride in the snow scene. Amberson. self-pitying and gossipy Fanny successfully plants suspicions in George's head. Amberson]: "Mr. George watches his approach with a pugnacious look from the upstairs. introduced with a spitting tap in a bath tub (to aurally accentuate the folly of George's behavior). turns around. Nobody'll resent it. At the door.because you said. always.] George: Listen.. George begins to assail her.) .refuses to allow him to enter and turns him away from the house: My mother will have no interest in knowing that you came here today or any other day.. George: Are you trying to tell me that because he comes here and they see her with him. Fanny also manipulates his jealousy toward Morgan.

When Uncle Jack leaves Isabel. as George and Fanny. Don't strike my life down twice. And he begs Isabel to not symbolically strike him dead a second time. In a momentous decision. She rises and moves in the darkness toward the camera and small shafts of light. He looks over the paper as his voice-over reads its contents: Dearest One Yesterday. Morgan. Twenty can find out only by getting to be forty. and terrible. The idea of you going in there now. I'm saying too much for wisdom. I fear. He's got some consideration for her. I was just suffering. permanent. 'Sometime it might come to that. Fanny warns George: "Leave her alone. Mr. Lucy is unaware of the conflict between George and Eugene. we are faced. but what you have to oppose now is your own selfless and perfect motherhood. because we haven't any.. and thereby hurting Isabel: I thought you already knew everything I did. like squabbling outside the door of an operating room. he accidentally meets Lucy.[George's words that forbid Eugene's entrance echo and repeat what the butler had twice told Eugene at the beginning of the film . Forty can't tell twenty about this. or George's way?"). And oh my dear. Go on! It's indecent. I thought the time had come when I could ask you to marry me and you were dear enough to tell me. Oh dearest woman in the world. George enters his mother's room and taunts her with his reaction to it. although she reminds him of their previous quarrel . George stands watching a mute and stunned Eugene behind the frosted window pane. and dogs on the left. so many things appear solid. she postpones any further romance with Eugene by renouncing him and siding with her oedipal son. Are you strong enough. You shall have happiness and only happiness. comforting and forgiving George's arrogance and contemptuousness. A marvelous crane shot rises up the interior of the Amberson staircase... As an aspiring "Amberson" himself. you and I. it breaks my heart for you. the letter is deeply affecting her . the scene dissolves to the room where Isabel is reading the letter. asking if she will choose her oedipal son or stand up against him ("Will you live your life your way. I know what your son is to you and it frightens me. With tenderness and compassion.her face is saddened.] After reading Eugene's letter. At this point. George simultaneously causes two tragedies to befall his own life. Here I go. I was a fool. Will you live your life your way.. your son's. This time I've not deserved it. won't you be strong? Such a little short strength it would need. He hastens the declining state of his own mother's health and her eventual death... by chance. dear. He's telling her what you did to Eugene. even if he'd never seen Isabel. She was a true wife to him as long as he lived. He writes a letter to Isabel. I'm just ruining them. but someone else's fear of it. Eugene never would have looked at me. for she remains faithful to her father. Fanny whispers loudly to George and then condemns him: I can just guess what that was about. Let me explain a little.You're not going in there!. Now you stay here and let him tell her. Obviously. or George's way? Dear.. not doing myself a bit of good by him. which forty sees as nothing but disappearing miasma. on different landings. And they haven't done any harm! She made Wilbur happy. he is appalled by her acceptance of Eugene's love: But you're my mother."] After slamming the door in Eugene's face (shot from within the mansion). not with slander. She tells George as she cradles his head in her hands that they will take an extended European tour to forget their troubles: "We'll go away for a while. I don't think he'll change. Her eyes reflect light in a difficult-to-achieve effect .a marvelous example of Stanley Cortez' cinematography. and severs his own ties with Lucy. And then Aunt Fanny expresses her role in troubling and stirring up George. You're an Amberson. on the street. Just telling Isabel the whole thing. [The following scene. mocking Eugene's reassuring feeling that they shouldn't care about gossip and what cruel tongues say: "Fair! Fair when he says that he and you don't care what people say?" He also can't fathom gossips speaking the obvious truth that she has always loved Eugene. overhear Uncle Jack in the hallway tell Isabel that he has just come from Eugene. and her eyes are luminous with tears.. is the first time in the film that original footage is mixed with re-shot and re-written material. And so we come to this.. Isabel? Can you make a fight? I promise you that if you will take heart for it. Isabel responds with her motherly nature. not with our own fear of it. in which George speaks with Isabel about Eugene's letter."Miss Amberson ain't at home to you.Go on to the top of the stairs.Oh.. In not accepting Eugene's passion for his mother. dear." Eugene sits at a desk on which rests a model of a motorcar to the right.' Now. you will find so quickly that it's all amounted to nothing.You keep away from here." The next day. The Story (continued) Midway through the voice-over. At twenty-one or twenty-two. as George is about to leave for the trip with his mother.

[Another scene was cut in which the Amberson family is upstairs discussing the state of Isabel's health. Lucy. Eugene sits prominently in a high-backed.. Good-bye. Her face is covered with a complex spider-web pattern of lighting from the window's lace curtain .to the differing perspectives of father and daughter that he saw Isabel. In a long continuous and fixed-camera take with deep focus typical of Welles. I doubt that the subject is mentioned between them yet . Delirious. I can't stand this. [they stroll in front of many shops. Jack had warned George of the peril to Isabel's health if she traveled. but he ignored it and went abroad anyway. [another scene re-shot and re-written] and again. don't you dear? Isabel: Yes. she shows tender concern for her son. he hints that their relationship might die right there with his breakaway .he replaces her image and imposes his own will.It's quite a shock.. I think it's good-bye for good. Jack and George strain to hear her withdrawn voice: Isabel: It's changed. In other excised film footage.. pride. and also by the Bijou movie house marquee where Jack Holt. Lucy. Isabel should come home.he hopes that she will show some emotion for him . ever in my life.] Several months later in a reception room at Eugene's mansion." In his account. but George doesn't let it happen: Eugene: And you say he won't let her come home. in soft-focus closeup. but she is so frail and ill that she has to be assisted from the railway station into a waiting carriage.he is prevented from seeing her just as she is about to die. George enters his mother's dimly-lit room. It is ultimately a great injustice to Eugene . George watches as Eugene departs the mansion for the last time. He's very gentle with her. the insensitive George immediately refuses entrance. was inserted inappropriately by RKO].." once George has left. His determined face is reflected in the window pane from Isabel's familiar vantage point . Lucy. yes.Can't stand this any longer. old dear. In a beautifully-captured close-up image. Jack: It will change to a happier place. Jack pays a visit to Lucy and her father after a trip abroad to visit Isabel and George. Jack: You mean. It's good-bye. In Isabel's death-bed farewell scene.. wing chair. Lucy. is starring in a western titled The Revenge]." but "she doesn't urge it" since George appears to be enjoying life in Europe: "George seems to like the life there in his grand. As they step into the sunlight at a street corner. as a fire burns behind him in the chimney's fireplace. who "isn't particularly well" and "ought to be in a wheelchair.another superb cinematographic effect..Lucy. We've made no plans at all for coming back... The web is symbolically one of frustration. Although she has faced his goodbye with a fixed smile unbetrayed by sadness. Tim Holt's father. and diagonal shadows flash across her.This is the last time I'll see you ever. now that you're back. wouldn't you think 'that' was about the way to put it? Eugene: Knowing him as I do. to see how much difference this makes to you. he bluntly and hesitantly tells her that he is imminently departing for a world trip. While they promenade along the main boardwalk of the town in another of the film's long takes... in a scene that now illustrates Eugene's prosperous ascendancy (the room is lit by electricity).about the direction of their lives during a buggy ride. Although Eugene insists on seeing her.. and she has wished him well: "I do hope you have the most splendid trip.Are you sure you didn't catch cold coming home? . Jack: I don't think he uses force. I can't Lucy. her face reveals a deep sadness and her eyes fill with tears [the shot of her face.knowing my interesting nephew as you do.] A nurse hovers in the background between dark pillars and ominous music plays. both Fanny (in tears) and Jack gently reinforce the doctor's recommendation that she be visited later. Jack expresses his view about Isabel returning home: "I told her I thought she ought to make Georgie let her come find out just how deeply you care.but his theatricality doesn't affect her: This is our last walk together. Mother and I are starting on a trip around the world tomorrow. Jack reveals . even though she is the one who is dying: Darling." Wasting away. It's so changed. You're going to get well here. [A major scene involving the decline of the Ambersons has been removed at this point.] Eugene comes calling to see Isabel. As the horse-drawn carriage moves toward town.(he turns toward Eugene rather than Lucy) . and conflicting loves from which she was never able to free herself. During the after-dinner conversation. did you get something to eat?. She faints in a nearby chemist's shop after asking for a glass of water and a few drops of aromatic spirits of ammonia. you mean the town? You mean the old place has changed. Lucy sits to the right with her facial expression turned away from the camera. [It is one of the most famous shots in the original film.. gloomy and peculiar way. she seemed cheerful but was "short of breath" and her health was deteriorating. And then Isabel returns from abroad.

" To symbolize the darkness of death taking her.] In a lyrical garden scene [faithful to Tarkington's novel]. the screen turns slowly to black. attempting to earn some money to bolster the sagging Amberson finances .. As they walk toward the camera between tall weeping willow trees. (George's Harvard banner is above it. staring face (toward the camera) as he ponders his own death and the here-after . or what the devil you did with them.' Eugene: What? . all his buying and building and trading and banking. Or if she is living. Nearby.) Lucy: The name was Loma-Nashah.. There was a bad Indian chief.The Earth came out o' the sun. the shade is pulled down over the lace curtain and the web patterns becomes dark over Isabel's face. And just for a last word. Georgie. and orchestral garden music plays. We knew we wouldn't see each other again for almost a year.] In a farewell scene at the railroad station before a column and a railroad bench and in front of the great inside dome. Uncle Jack leaves George to seek a new job. but at some unspecified time in the future when affairs of the estate are being decided.. Jack identifies them as "two gentlemen of elegant appearance in a state of bustitude. And he realized that everything which had worried him or delighted him during this lifetime. There wasn't anything here but the sun in the first place.] In a rambling. he both manages to reminisce about a goodbye to a young girl he once knew (in Tarkington's words). and later subdivided into a boarding house.." An abrupt transition moves into the haunting scene of Major Amberson's own death. Just once. and to ambivalently praise and blame George with chastening words: Once I stood where we're standing now to say goodbye to a pretty girl. We called it the depot. there may be somebody else in this town (Lucy Morgan) who's always felt about you like that. the old Major disjointedly muses on the source of life: It must be in the sun. and we came out of the Earth. you can't tell where.. Still the finest house in busted. She pointedly asks: "Has he asked about me?" Learning that Eugene was there and left. incoherent speech (again from Tarkington). his voice grows silent. life and money both behave like loose quicksilver in a nest of cracks. She has resigned herself to not marrying George because of his vindictiveness.And then she inquires whether Eugene and Lucy know that they have returned from their trip abroad. Major Amberson was engaged in the profoundest thinking of his life. and his name was. that it was all trifling and waste beside what concerned him now." In a very economical scene. When the light fades. [The following garden scene was originally intended to come after the scene of Fanny's final hysteria.) Isabel's death occurs off-screen in a simple. the worst Indian that ever lived. In desperate anguish after the death. I thought I couldn't live through it. I've always been fond of you. [The Major leaves no deeds to his remaining property. It means: 'They-couldn't-help-it. no matter how much it seems you ought to be hanged. If she ever thinks of me she probably imagines I'm still dancing in the ballroom of the Amberson mansion. Major Amberson restlessly reclines fully clothed in a near-death stupor himself in George's bed. She stood there crying .in a long camera take. she sighs poignantly: "I would have liked to have seen him. [It is not immediately after Isabel's death.the legend obviously parallels the story of the life of George Amberson.] A dying fire flickers on a close-up of his pensive. I can't say I've always liked ya. Fond of you. forgetting the name of the Indian chief and George's name as well: Lucy: Ever hear the Indian name for that little grove of beech trees? Eugene: No. and the mansion itself is sold off. emotionally-effective scene. Eugene knocks his pipe against the palm of his hand.' Eugene: Doesn't sound like it. Footage is missing of Jack borrowing money from George to make his trip.. Lucy laughs..don't even know where she lives now. She loved you. Ah. [The next scene is also some time in the future. For the Major knew now that he had to plan how to enter an unknown country where he was not even sure of being recognized as an Amberson.. Lucy (with Eugene) recounts an Indian folk tale (fabricated by her?) about a detestable Indian chief sent into exile . Welles softly narrates from Booth Tarkington's words: And now. and his life ends.There have been times when I thought you ought to be hanged. Fanny rushes in and embraces George tightly: "She loved you. I mean. she will remain in her garden and see to her father's every wish. Only it was in the old station before this was built. and you never did either. She probably thinks of the mansion as still beautiful. When they're gone. The Major is too far senile to answer Jack's (off-screen) complex probate and estate questions concerning the deed to the house.. was Vendonah. Means: 'Rides-Down-Everything. So whatever we are. Lucy: Indian names don't. He will use his past Congressional position to secure a consulship somewhere overseas. Well? (They stop. But we all spoiled you terribly when you were a boy.

I know what you're gonna do. In fact.) Eugene: So you're going to stay in your garden. I've forgotten. Perhaps you remember the chief's name better? Lucy: I don't. (Eugene puts his arm around his daughter) Eugene: I hope some day you can forget it. They couldn't help feeling that way. that's all. In the offices of his employer Benson. and pushed him out from shore.' Eugene: No. he learns she has picked out boarding house accommodations for them that cost $36 a month and $22. and it's gone. I-I walked and walked over this that he can support himself and his spinster aunt. After admitting her foolish investment of her small inheritance from Wilbur in an auto headlight factory. I tried to make things as nice for you as I could. I wouldn't mind if they hadn't. I don't want any more. deserted and changed Amberson house in the empty kitchen [in a scene partially re-shot to replace the original film and spliced together with the original Cortez/Welles film]. And he never got back. the tribe decided that it wasn't a good enough excuse for him that he was young and inexperienced. I know I told you I didn't put everything in the Headlight Company.. George demands that she get up from her defeated.. Every cent. Papa.) Eugene: Mola-Haha. and then slumps helplessly against the boiler and slides to the floor: Oh.50 for dinner. elaborate tracking dolly shot moving through four rooms. Lucy: Oh. but she becomes hysterical: It's not hot. So at last.' Lucy: Must have been. you're gonna leave me in the lurch! Knowing that both of them are equally destitute and penniless. and I tried. the Indian name. I mean. You think it's better just to keep walking about among your flower beds and get old like a pensive garden lady in a Victorian engraving? Huh? Lucy: I suppose I'm like that tribe that lived here. (She makes a desperate laugh) I've got $28. George must abandon not only the Amberson mansion but also his law-firm position and his law career to earn money .) Go on. Couldn't wait till tomorrow to begin. child-like position. it's cold..where sheets shroud the furniture in the otherwise empty living room.. He was so proud he wore iron shoes and walked over people's faces. I had too much unpleasant excitement. George: $28? Fanny: That's all. In the now dim.something unthinkable years earlier . You'd be paying more of the expenses than I would. Again. Mola-Haha. Eugene: I see.' Eugene: I see.I wouldn't mind if it burned me George! And then in a brilliantly-choreographed. Eugene: You don't? What was the name of that grove? Lucy: 'They-could. she worries whether Georgie will abandon her. They didn't want him back. but I did. (Sobbing) You're.he will take a higher-paying position as a dynamiter: Benson: A real flair for the law. Fanny: My money. They hated Vendonah. That wasn't the name you said. He'd have to go. (They laugh together. and try and make something like a home for you.. The law's a jealous mistress and a stern mistress. They move backward from the cold boiler out the kitchen door and through the reception hall (past the circular staircase) and into the boarded-up front parlor . Eugene: So you have. (She laughs. The plumber's disconnected it. My money. I didn't ride one block on a streetcar. We'd be using more of your money than mine. she remains down and complains about how her own penny-pinching efforts to provide have failed miserably: I knew your mother wanted me to watch over you. As George shakes her to end her maniacal.I walked my heels down looking for a place for us to live. they continue to argue. Tormented and grief-stricken. The current carried him on down to the ocean. That's right. George decides on a desperate alternative . So they took him down to the river. (They start walking again and then stop. put him in a canoe. but they weren't able to discover any other warrior they wanted to make chief in his place. Lucy: Vendonah was unspeakable. George and Fanny discuss the sorry state of their finances and how much they'll need to live: George: I'm only going to be getting $8 a week at the law office. hysterical laughter. So that's why they named the place: 'They-couldn't help-it. I don't want anything but you. .. Sacrificially.Lucy: His name was Vendonah. same thing as: 'Rides-Down-Everything. Fanny: I'd be paying? I'd be paying? George: Certainly you would. George commands her to get up and not sit there with her back against the boiler. Lucy: Oh. of course.

telegraph poles and lines. And they never knew it. The town was growing and changing. Your grandfather and I were boys together. Eugene tells Fanny of his conviction that he is "true at last" to his true love . incredibly. steel girders." As George walks home for the last time. Eugene reads about the accident in the paper and then contemplates whether he will respond to the notice.. It was heaving up in the middle. in a bedroom now dark and depressing. She set her mind on this particular boardinghouse. Through Eugene. You'd never believe it. they were to move out. Eugene [a representative of the machine age] is able to confide to Fanny that George had asked for forgiveness from him. father?" and then she strides out of the frame. Isabel would love her own son. Men in the dynamite factories. everything would be gone. The Ambersons (and most definitely the Minafers) are already a forgotten family: Something had happened. Well. and she smiles indulgently as they both look straight ahead and walk toward the camera. now that Isabel is dead.G. forgive me. Eugene. Tomorrow. it is understood that he will be redeemed. and darkened its sky. Isabel. a character played by Joseph Cotten in the film. images of the new machine age and the changed way of life in the growing industrialized city are seen from George's perspective. A clanging bell presages an automobile accident shortly afterwards . electric streetcar wires. Really. Minafer. Akers Chemical Co." A headline in the city's newspaper. 'You must have known my mother wanted you to come here today. Feeling some of the responsibility. as George's form is carried away on a stretcher [never to be seen again in the film]. At the foot of the bed where his mother died. Benson promises to help George find a suitable job as a dynamiter: "You certainly are the most practical young man I ever met. outside George's hospital room and as they walk down the corridor in a long traveling shot. A. At last." At the accident scene. George is almost killed . many good citizens of the town. Papa?" She decides to visit the pauperized George in the hospital after he was brought down by the street accident: "I'm going to him. He'd got it three times filled and running over. Fanny will have nothing to fear." In his study.abbreviating his name to mere initials: "Serious Accident . she got some old cronies. Lucy and George are ultimately reconciled in the hospital. and the big old house at the foot of Amberson Boulevard.] Another newspaper column titled TODAY'S TOLL describes George's crippling accident .a machine that he had earlier called "a useless nuisance. it befouled itself. as his mother dies after he has suffered the loss of Lucy's love. George kneels to say a final prayer and farewell to his long-departed mother: "God. and the left column article entitled "Stage Views" is written by Jed Leland. Thought I'd see if I couldn't get a job like that. it's Aunt Fanny. Despite George's own character faults. Eugene will take care of the disabled George." The narration begins again. both legs broken. quietly. And as it heaved and spread. pipelines. I want to get started tomorrow if I could. You know what he said to me when we went in that room? He said. incredibly. "befouled" with large buildings. Don't you think I ought to know what's the trouble? George: Well sir. He doesn't answer Lucy's question: "What are you going to do. Benson: Georgie. The Indianapolis Daily Inquirer announces a bold headline: "AUTO CASUALTIES MOUNT. people that handle touchy chemicals. This was the last walk home he was ever to take up National Avenue to Amberson addition. It struck me that she's just about got to have it. and I guess she's been looking forward to the games of bridge and the harmless kind of gossip that goes on in such places. Fulfilled.literally and physically run over by an automobile (made by Eugene's company?) . And now it came at last: George Amberson Minafer had got his comeuppance.. and all about him. a thing which years ago had been the eagerest hope of many. enabling Eugene to feel close and remain faithful to the memory of his true love. The eagerly-awaited fall (when he gets his 'come-uppance') of Georgie Amberson Minafer passes almost unnoticed. Benson: What? George: I've come to tell you that I've got to find something quicker. deserted homes in the central part of the city.George: I can't do it. those who were still living had forgotten all about it. so that I could ask you to forgive me. I've heard that they pay very high wages to people in dangerous trades. As the town grows." [Two 'inside' jokes refer to Citizen Kane (1941) . You coming. It seems she put everything in the Headlight Company.Isabel: . Eugene is resigned to join her and rises after he hears the door shut. factory windows.a third tragedy. Welles' voice-over narrates and then the screen goes black: George Amberson Minafer walked homeward slowly through what seemed to be the strange streets of a strange city. Something that pays from the start.' We shook hands. one of the policemen remarks: "It's wonderful the damage one of these little machines can do. Tomorrow.Well sir. But those who had longed for it were not there to see it.. I can't take up the law. It was spreading. it's the life she'd like better than anything else.the paper is a Kane Empire newspaper. it also dies. high explosives. and "New Hope Apartment For Rent" signs.

director. And that through me. In the original film's ending (footage that was destroyed). The reconciliation scene ends on a close-up of Fanny's face wearing a beatific. Violins swell with sentimentality on the soundtrack.I never noticed before how much like Isabel Georgie looks. and then tacked onto the film. a conversation between Lucy and George) Edward Stevenson designed the ladies' wardrobe (A piece of fabric being cut and fashioned for one of the ladies' dresses symbolizes the Costumes Designer) The special effects were by Vernon L. This is a Mercury Production. But it seemed to me as if someone else was in that room. My name is Orson Welles. and statuary symbolize the Set Designer) Robert Wise was the film editor (A rotating movie reel in front of a strip of film stock moving through a projector) Freddie Fleck was the assistant director (The top of a typewritten page of the screenplay. his voice has the final words: Ladies and gentlemen. Also Worth Your Attention. and that I'd been true at last to my true love. she brought her boy under shelter again.Ray Collins Roger Benson . The scene was re-written and Welles intones about his own triple contribution (as screenwriter. as she rocked back and forth in a creaking chair and listened to a phonograph record playing in the background..Dolores Costello Lucy . imaginative credits sequence. The boom and microphone swing up and away into a shaft of light coming through a skylight in the ceiling. and producer): I wrote the script and directed it.Tim Holt Fanny . rejoicing smile and looking upward toward heaven [toward Isabel in the spiritual world]. off-stage. barren hospital corridor. Stewart (Two hands turn round instrument dials to adjust sound volume) Here's the cast: [all filmed in cameos against a black backdrop] Eugene . Eugene visited an aging.] In the final.Agnes Moorehead Jack . Fanny? I wouldn't tell this to anybody but you.Erskine Sanford Major Amberson .Joseph Cotten Isabel . Orson Welles returns in voice-over. bitter Fanny in her sparse boarding room house/old folks' home and told her about his hospital visit to George and their reconciliation. uplifting conclusion has been much criticized as the ultimate insult toward Welles and the original film. drapery.) You know something. (Tears sparkle on Fanny's cheeks.Richard Bennett The final image of the film is a closeup of a microphone that hangs from a boom in space . before it fades to black from a view of the empty. Walker (An elaborate camera set-up films a special effect) The sound recording was by Bailey Fessler and James G. [The last sugar-coated scene in the hospital in the film's happy..Anne Baxter George . AMC Filmcritic's Review of The Magnificent Ambersons . In the darkness and then with a display of the book. The Magnificent Ambersons was based on Booth Tarkington's novel. He re-introduces the various major contributors of the crew (and then cast) by their names (and trademarks): • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Stanley Cortez was the photographer (A movie camera symbolizes the Cinematographer) Mark-Lee Kirk designed the sets (Set sketches symbolize the Art Director) Al Fields dressed them (An ornate chair.

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