The Golden Age of Hollywood

Screening time : Thursday 20th March 2008, 8.35 - 10.00 p.m. GMT


Orson Welles' second feature has some great cinematic touches (overlapping dialogue etc) though its more understated than Citizen Kane. The story is interesting enough if rather sombre : it is about the decline of an upper middle class family counterpointed neatly with the development of the automobile. Fine cast many familar from Kane and the Mercury Theatre. Charismatic Joseph Cotten is in love with Dolores Costello but their happiness is threatened by brooding Tim Holt.

The sombre nature of the film was probably wrong for the time but famously it was recut when Welles wasn't present, the happy ending just doesn't fit. This film is one Warner have promised to release on DVD in Region 1 for awhile. It is out in Europe, the DVD I have has an introduction by a French critic who argues that it wasn't the failure of Ambersons that doomed Welles in Hollywood but actually the failure of Journey Into Fear made at the same time. Apparently RKO thought Fear would be commercial but always considered Ambersons an art film.

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