Sunday, April 9, 2017

Brandon's #87: The Mignificent Ambersons (Orson Welles, 1942)

Big and sad realities make the toiling for money or stature seem a trifle. Ain't it true? So many books, songs, and movies speak of the futility of customs and clout. I think it's because we know in our deepest of being that none of that shit matters. It's just pride. Someday most of us will be deep in thought at the edge of the unknown, where we will likely cease to exist. We won't give a tinker's damn about money, looks, or class.

Wherever it is we are headed, our names won't mean a thing. Not a thing. We tend to mock truths because we feel above them, so let me annoy you all with another kernel. All we have in this life consists of ones we love, specifically the time we spend present and alert with one another.

If you can reduce Orson Welles' masterpiece to one theme, I'd say this is it. Adapted from Booth Tarkington's novel, it follows spoiled Georgie's long and painful journey to that truth. It was his comeuppance, three times filled and running over. I'm still not sure that I am limiting my list to just one Welles' but if I do, I am perfectly content to leave it here. I think it's his best (F FOR FAKING nipping at its heels). It's as good a display of acting, writing, directing, etc as anything ever made. I'm not sure why it's not higher. I also love how affectionately it pays tribute to the Mercury Radio Theater troupe and aesthetic. Such a solid crew. I doubt we will ever see its like again.

I can also see how the young auteur was so often prone to failure. He was too smart. Too uncompromising. His existence goads the gatekeepers of conventional wisdom and taste. Time will always have Orson's back, and I dare say that anyone worth their artistic weight in gold will absorb a piece of his creative strength each time they set their eyes and ears on this, a movie I have underestimated for so long.

1 comment:

  1. If we were doing a list of Top 100 Radio Plays, Welles would dominate my list. Welles isn't on my list as a director, but he does show up much later as an actor.

    I went through an "old time radio" phase in college. There are a lot of great shows, but few were ever as consistently good as Mercury Theater on the Air.