Tuesday, May 22, 2012
unsuitable for family viewing
Wells did make a masterpiece, but nobody has ever seen it. The studio condensed Wells's 132-minute epic, "The Magnificent Ambersons," to 88 minutes, then tacked on a re-shot "happy ending." Wells's greatest movie became the film equivalent of a painting by Leonardo or Vermeer getting re-worked in primary colors by a sign painter.
After that Wells was pretty much done directing for the studios. He did some independent work which tended to suffer from its very low budgets, and continued acting in Hollywood to try to finance his own pictures. He was frustrated most of his life and died an incompleted genius.
Dennis Perrin has a heartfelt appreciation of "Ambersons" on his blog today. Noting that the film is impressive even in its mutilated form, he analyzes the theme of "lost time and altered lives," and includes a wonderful short clip of this now-lost adaptation of the novel of the same name by Booth Tarkenton, featuring Joseph Cotton as Eugene Morton, and Tim Holt as the petulant and spoiled George Amberson.