Hi Fellas: Like all Wellsians, I am really someone else, but I've been trying, unsuccessfully, to take part here for several months, and so I've adopted an alias. If I could destroy my old identity, I would, but I don't know how.
Anyway, I wanted to comment on Bernard Herrmann's music for THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS. As you all probably know, there is a wonderful schema and analysis of the music in the collateral material with the CD of the complete score, "The Magnificent Ambersons" [Original 1941 Motion Picture Score, played by the Australian Philharmonic Orchestra, under Tony Bremmer]; PRCD 1738 Stereo (Preamble Records), Fifth Continent Music (FCMC), 1990.
If you follow that schema, and you see that the original plan was -- to cut the whole film to that score, you fully realize what THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS might have been, and what we have lost.
In that regard, though I am not the traitor at Amazon, I have some sympathy for him/her. The parts of the movie we have that Welles shot and supervised are nigh perfect, but the chops and addititions do, in a very real way, turn the film into a sentimental "soap opera," where Welles intended a nostalgic tragedy, and a mordant commentary on how Heartland America had begun to resemble an industrially ruined landscape by 1940's. That change came about largely because of the relentless popularization of the automobile, something Welles must have felt personally because of his Father's involvement with the early days of headlights.
Almost all of Welles films subsequent to CITIZEN KANE were altered substantially from his original intentions [I have come to believe substantially for political reasons], but they may be enjoyed for what they are, and in every case, Welles humanism and unique central insights can be discerned, but THE MAGNIFICENT AMBERSONS, beyond its midpoint, becomes so scattered and distorted that it begins to resemble (superb Cortez photography and performances to one side) a travesty of its intentions. To maintain that the film, as it stands, is a masterpiece is difficult for me to argue.
Alas, unless Rick Schmidlin finds that 16mm print in the vault in Rio, we are unlikely to know how great it might have been. Its destruction, I agree, is one of the great cultural atrocities of the 20th Century.
Hope I can stay aboard here, fellas.
[signed] The Man now Known as Glenn Anders.