Tim Holt and Anne Baxter in 'The Magnificent Ambersons' (1942) Potential Films
Tim Holt and Anne Baxter in 'The Magnificent Ambersons' (1942) Potential Films
The Magnificent Ambersons (1942) Potential Films

ACMI presents

The Magnificent Ambersons

Orson Welles | USA | 1942 | PG

This event has ended and tickets are no longer available.






ACMI Member



Fri 24 Dec 2021 - Tue 4 Jan 2022

See below for additional related events

A year after the release of Citizen Kane, Orson Welles sealed his mythic status as a Hollywood wunderkind with his accomplished second feature.

[Arguably] even better than Citizen Kane... exquisitely beautiful film-making.

The Times (UK)

When young Eugene Morgan (Welles’ ensemble player, Joseph Cotten) disgraces himself in a clumsy attempt to serenade the lovely Isabelle Amberson (Dolores Costello), Major Amberson’s daughter throws over her 'best beau’ and instead marries Wilbur Minifer, a suitor faintly praised as 'no Apollo, but a steady young businessman'. Almost two decades later, a widowed Isabelle and Eugene are reunited at a grand ball held to welcome home her son, George (Tim Holt), a wilful young man of indeterminate virtue or talent who immediately takes a pointed dislike to his mother’s still-smitten former sweetheart.

Orson Welles’ rich baritone punctuates his second feature film, completed in 1942, following his auspicious debut with Citizen Kane the previous year. As the film’s narrator, Welles’ magisterial, wry inflections act as a sly commentary on the ambitions and foibles of the self-styled ‘magnificent’ Ambersons; prominent citizens of an American Midwest town on the cusp of modernity.

Adapted from the 1918 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel by Booth Tarkington, film critic Molly Haskell astutely discerned in Tarkington’s novel and Welles’ sympathetic adaptation, “the glorious ambiguity of character” that typified Welles’ general attitude to the invariably flawed characters in his films: “No one in Welles’ [world] is all good or all bad... the villains are complex... the heroes riddled with doubts or fatal weaknesses. His attraction to the variety of human nature, and the way character determines fate, has never been more evident than in this ensemble”.

In a supporting cast that also features a young Anne Baxter (All About Eve), Agnes Moorehead’s bravura performance as Fanny Minifer deservedly received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress and the New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Actress. The film also garnered nominations for Best Picture, Best Black and White Cinematography and Best Black and White Art Direction.

Released in a considerably shorter version than the expansive 131 minute version Welles envisaged, New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael proclaimed that “even in its truncated form [the film] is amazing and memorable”.

To commemorate the film's 80th anniversary in 2022, The Magnificent Ambersons screens on 35mm in selected sessions at 1.30 pm on Friday, 24 December, and 4 pm on Tuesday, January 4.

Roberta Ciabarra; Curator, Film

Format: 35mm & DCP
Language: English
Source: Potential Films
Courtesy: Potential Films
Runtime: 88 min

Event duration

88 mins




Cinema 1 & 2, Level 2
ACMI, Fed Square

How to get there


Experience ACMI in the very best way. Get a range of discounts and invitations to exclusive previews.

Become a member

3-session pass

Lock in your screenings and save. Watch three films for $19.50

Get passes


There are no upcoming related events at this time.

Plan your visit

Read our COVID-safe visitor guidelines, information on accessibility, amenities, transport, dining options and more.

Start planning

Looking for dining options?

Book a table at Hero

As well as great coffee and snacks, our new restaurant features a seasonally driven menu developed by acclaimed Melbourne chef, Karen Martini.

Potato Bread at Hero ACMI

Support your museum of screen culture

You might also like