The Magnificent Ambersons

2 discs. b/w. 88+ min. Orson Welles, dist. by Criterion Collection, www.criterion.com. 2018. DVD ISBN 9781681435251. $29.95; 1-disc Blu-ray ISBN 9781681435244. $39.95. F
OrangeReviewStarBased on the Pulitzer Prize-winning 1918 novel by Booth Tarkington, Welles's follow-up to his masterly Citizen Kane depicts the downward spiral of a turn-of-the-century Indianapolis family headed by a motorcar magnate (Joseph Cotten). Shorn of more than 40 minutes by RKO Pictures after a negative test screening and saddled with reshoots including an upbeat ending, Ambersons (1942) endures as a tragic case of what might have been had its director's original vision survived. The chiaroscuro lighting and deep-focus lensing are reminiscent of Kane, but the former comes off as a bit extreme at times—certainly through no fault of the superb 4K restoration. The varied and ample special features, including commentaries, interviews, video and printed essays, and much more, make for a lavishly complete package suitable for an infamously compromised work of art.
VERDICT A must-have for serious collections—appealing to casual TCM fans even if best treasured by die-hard film buffs. [See Trailers, LJ 10/1/18.]
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