“The Magnificent Ambersons” (1942) at Film Forum (Oct 26-7)

by on October 25, 2011Posted in: Essay

Read More

Wednesday Editor’s Pick: The Magnificient Ambersons (1946)

by on October 19, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

Playing Wed Oct 26 at 1:00, 4:10, 7:20, 10:30 and Thurs Oct 27 at 1:00, 4:10 at Film Forum [Program & Tix]

Film Forum keeps rolling out the hits in their Bernard Herrmann festival (thru Nov 3). Although we can always summon some prerequisite enthusiasm for Citizen Kane screenings, we are most hotly anticipating Welles’ followup, horribly mutilated by the studio but still – by hell or high water – a masterpiece.


As Andrew Sarris cheekily proclaims:

I much prefer it to Citizen Kane. So sue me.


Francois Truffaut, who allegedly referred to the film as his “Bible”:

If Flaubert reread Don Quixote every year, why can’t we see The Magnificent Ambersons whenever possible?


Essential Reading reminder: Dan Callahan’s Alt Screen feature on the film’s master composer.

Dave Kehr for the Chicago-Tribune:

There have been few darker days in the history of movies…


The 88-minute “Magnificent Ambersons“ that survives today is a ruin, but it is a magnificent ruin. Even in its shattered form, the film remains a work of immense beauty and power, blending an epic social vision with an acute and intimate personal tragedy. “Ambersons“ is a film of great warmth, humor, and nostalgia; at the same time, it is absolutely terrifying in its vision of human spitefulness, isolation, and waste.

  Read More

Saturday Editor’s Pick: Citizen Kane (1941)

by on October 17, 2011Posted in: Editor's Pick

1:05, 5;05, 9:05 at Film Forum [Program & Tix]
*Double feature with Jane Eyre (1943, Robert Stevenson)


I was in middle-school when the American Film Institute’s “100 Years…100 Movies” program was broadcast on network TV. This clips fest counting down the 100 greatest American movies culminated in Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, and I think it was the very next day that I went to the local library and checked out the VHS, preparing myself to be blown away by the greatest movie ever made!


I was, of course, totally underwhelmed and slightly confused. I thought it was alright and everything–but this was as good as it gets? Though I was obviously too young to fully appreciate a lot of things, I had also been set up for disappointment. The AFI pick created a dynamic not unlike the expectations game political campaigns play before a big debate; the symbolic weight of that #1 status raised the bar too high too quickly, such that it couldn’t possibly live up. The official affirmation had the unintended consequence of diminishing the film.


There has probably been more critical writing about Kane than any other film not directed by Hitchock. An initial survey might start with Welles’ ballsy broadside against all of Hollywood in the months before Kane‘s debut, then proceed to the contemporary raves from Time and from Bosley Crowther at the New York Times; the curios penned by Borges and the director Erich von Stroheim; Andre Bazin’s landmark essay “The Evolution of Cinema” and his book on Welles; the back and forth between Pauline Kael and Andrew Sarris; Peter Bogdanovich’s book-length interview; Richard T. Jameson’s 1971 program notes; the two books on Welles by Joseph McBride and one by Peter Cowie; Jonathan Rosenbaum’s collected Wellesiana; Robert Carringer’s making of and James Naremore’s magic world; David Thomson’s biographical riff on the wunderkind mythology; and, for a laugh, this Gore Vidal book review in the NYRB.


But since we don’t want to get your hopes up too much, we’ll just say that Citizen Kane really isn’t that boring, considering it’s black and white and unforgivably boobless.



-Compiled by P.B.

Recent Features

Gene Kelly retro at Film Society (thru Jul 26)

July 13, 2012

I'm happy again and like myself: 100 years of Gene.


Erich Von Stroheim retro at Film Forum (thru Jul 30)

May 28, 2012

The decadent realism of Hollywood's favorite sadist.


Migrating Forms Fest at Anthology (thru May 20)

May 11, 2012

Traveling through time and space at NYC's upstart experimental film fest.

View All →