Saturday, February 2, 2019


Dolores Costello and Joseph Cotten in
The Magnificent Ambersons

The Magnificent Ambersons
It has been a long time since I last saw The Magnificent Ambersons, Orson Welles's follow-up to Citizen Kane. It is based on Booth Tarkington's classic story of a rich family whose fortunes are off-set by progress and the coming of the automobile personified in the person of entrepreneur and suitor (Joesph Cotten) to Isabel Amberson (Dolores Costello). The leading character is the spoiled son of Isabel, George Anderson (Tim Holt).

The film is beautiful to look at and features lively performances and Welles uses his famous quick cuts to maximum effect and the story moves along at a rapid pace. Some like this film more than Kane, but I'm not willing to go quite that far. The major flaw is the happy ending tacked on by the studio. Damn studio execs strike again!

And the Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award goes to..Agnes Moorehead. Agnes had a nice but small role in Citizen Kane as Kane's mother. Her role in Ambersons is larger and she has a field day as George's emotional Aunt Fanny. Agnes runs the gamut of emotions from bitterness and jealousy to ultimately resignation and acceptance.

After many years in movies, Agnes appeared in one of the most famous episodes of The Twilight Zone (The Invaders). She is probably best known as Endora, the wicked witch from the 60's sitcom Bewitched.
Agnes Moorehead in The Magnificent Ambersons

Orson Welles on the clock tower
in The Stranger

The Stranger
Expectations: Another in the it’s been years since I’ve seen it category. Orson Welles stars and directs. Curious to see how it stands up.

After Viewing: The opening sequences of this film do have the stylish touches associated with Mr. Welles. The general plot involves Edward G. Robinson as Nazi hunter tracking down Nazi war criminal Franz Kindler (who Welles plays without an ounce of redeeming qualities) hiding as a teacher in a small town America. You gotta like that.

I thought that since this film has an important climactic scene at a clock tower, it might make a good double feature with Back to the Future…or not.

And the Elisha Cook Jr. supporting player award goes to…Billy House as the middle aged, balding, paunchy proprietor/pharmacist of the local general store whose biggest thrill is finding someone to play checkers with him for a quarter a game and snooping into other people’s business. I honestly thought I had seen Mr. House in other movies, but as I looked at his IMDB resume, it seems I was mistaken. But he brings some well-needed humor to a film with grim subject matter.

Welles playing checkers with Billy House
in The Stranger
Maybe chess next time?


  1. Agnes Moorehead was a true supporting actress. I do not remember a single leading part for her, but she was brilliant as supporting actress. It is interesting to look at her filmography, how many great movies she had a part in.