The Magnificent Ambersons

Synopsis: The young, handsome, but somewhat wild Eugene Morgan wants to marry Isabel Amberson, daughter of a rich upper-class family, but she instead marries dull and steady Wilbur Minafer. Their only child, George, grows up a spoiled brat. Years later, Eugene comes back, now a mature widower and a successful automobile maker. After Wilbur dies, Eugene again asks Isabel to marry him, and she is receptive. But George resents the attentions paid to his mother, and he and his whacko aunt Fanny manage to sabotage the romance. A series of disasters befall the Ambersons and George, and he gets his come-uppance in the end.
Genre: Drama, Romance
Production: RKO Radio Pictures
  Nominated for 4 Oscars. Another 4 wins.
Rotten Tomatoes:
88 min

The magnificence of the

Ambersons began in 1873

Their splendour lasted throughout

all the years that saw their

midland town spread and

darken into a city.

In that town, in those days,

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.

The only public advance was

the street car.

A lady could whistle to it from an upstairs


and the car would hold at once

and wait for her

while she shut her window, put on her hat

and coat, went downstairs, found an umbrella

told the girl what to have for dinner

and came forth from the house.

Too slow for us nowadays,

because the faster we are carried

the less time we have to spare.

During the earlier

years of this period

while bangs and bustles were

having their way with women,

there were seen men of

all ages to whom a hat

meant only that rigid

tall silk thing

known to impudents

as a "stove pipe."

But the long contagion of

the derby had arrived:

one season the crown of

this hat would be a bucket,

next it would be a spoon.

Every house still kept its

bootjack, but high top boots

gave way to shoes

and congress gaiters

and these were played through

fashions that shaped them now with

toes like box ends, and now with

toes like the prows of racing shells.

Trousers with a crease were

considered plebeian; the

crease proved that the garment

had lain upon a shelf,

and hence was ready-made.

With evening dress, a gentleman

wore a tan short that

his black coattails hung visible

But after a season or two

he lengthened his overcoat

till it touched his heels.

And he passed out of

his tight trousers

into trousers like great bags.

In those days,

they had time for everything:

time for sleigh rides, and balls,

and assemblies, and cotillions.

And open house on New Year's, and

all-day picnics in the woods.

And even that prettiest

of all vanished customs,

the serenade.

Of a summer night,

young men would bring an orchestra

under a pretty girl's window

a flute, harp, fiddle,

cello, coronet, bass viole,

would presently release their

melodies to the dulcet stars.

Against so home-spun a backdrop,

the magnificence of the Ambersons

was as conspicuous as a

brass band at a funeral.

There it is!

The Amberson mansion!

- The pride of the town!

- Well, well...

$60,000 for the woodwork alone!

- Hot and cold running water...

- Upstairs and down.

And stationary washstands in

every last bedroom in the place.

Is Miss Amberson at home?

No sir, Mr. Morgan.

Miss Amberson's not home.

Well, thanks Sam...

No sir, Miss Amberson ain't

home for you, Mr. Morgan.


- I guess she's still mad at him.

- Who?

- Isabel.

- Major Amberson's daughter.

Eugene Morgan's her best beau!

Took a bit too much to drink

the other night right out here,

- and stepped clean through the

bass fiddle that was serenadin' her!

- Well, well.

I haven't seen her since

she got back from abroad.

Isabel? Well sir, I don't know

as I know just how to put it,

but she's, she's kind of a,

delightful-looking young lady.

Wilbur? Wilbur Minafer?

I never thought he'd get her.

Well, whaddya know!

Well, Wilbur may not be

any Apollo, as it were,

but he's a steady young businessman.

Wilbur Minafer!

Looks like Isabel's pretty

sensible for such a showy girl.

- To think of her takin' him!

- Yes, just because a man any

woman would like a thousand times

better was a little wild one night

- at a serenade.

- What she minds was him makin' a

clown of himself in her own front yard.

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 wedding will be a

big Amberson style thing...

Raw oysters floating in

scooped-out blocks of ice,

a band, from out of town,

and then Wilbur will take

Isabel on the carefullest little

wedding trip he can manage.

And she'll be a good wife

to him, but they'll have

the worst-spoiled lot of children

this town will ever see.

How on earth do you figure

that out, Mrs. Foster?

She couldn't love Wilbur, could she?

Well! It'll all go to her children.

And she'll ruin them.

The prophetess proved to be

mistaken in a single detail merely,

Wilbur and Isabel did not have

"children," they had only one.

Only one,

But I'd like to know if he isn't

spoiled enough for a whole carload!

Again, she found none to challenge her

and George Amberson Minafer,

the Major's one grandchild,

was a princely terror.

Hey! Go, I guess you

think you own this town?

There were people...grown

people they were,

who expressed themselves longingly.

They did hope to live to

see the day, they said,

when that boy would

get his come-uppance.

- His...what?

- His come-uppance.

Something's bound to

take him down some day.

I only want to be there!

Nah, the little girly-curly,

Nah, the little girly-curly,

Say Bob, where'd you steal

your mother's old sash?

Your sister stole it for me!

She stole it off our old

clothesline and gave it to me!

You go get your hair cut!

You and I haven't got any sister!

Yeah, I know you haven't at home.

I mean the one that's in jail!

I dare you to get out

of that pony cart!

I dare you outside that gate!

I dare ya half way here I dare ya!

Here I come, you...

Little boy!

Little boy!

That'll be enough of that!

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Booth Tarkington

Newton Booth Tarkington (July 29, 1869 – May 19, 1946) was an American novelist and dramatist best known for his novels The Magnificent Ambersons and Alice Adams. He is one of only three novelists to win the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction more than once, along with William Faulkner and John Updike. Although he is little read now, in the 1910s and 1920s he was considered America's greatest living author. more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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