Just saw "I Remember Mama" on TCM; reminded me very much of "Ambersons". Much of the tone was elegiac and nostalgic, as were parts of "Ambersons". Gorgeous B&W cinematography, including some very natural outdoor shots and interiors that show ceilings. All about a family, too, including the relating of different generations and the death of a member (Uncle Chris); but here is where the films part, as the death of the uncle is sad but unltimately soft-pedalled, whereas Welles hits us hard with the death of Isabel. Still, I was thinking as "Mama" was a post-war picture, and a great success, that people were much readier for slower paced and more thoughtful material then than during the early months of the war. It seems to me that if RKO had cut nothing of "Ambersons" but had only changed the ending visually, to simply show Eugene being forgiven by Georgie in the hospital room with Lucy and Fanny looking on, and kept the voice-over of Eugene's letter about what happened, they would have had a hit on their hands if thay had released it after the war. As it was, in 1942 they did modest business and it was nominated for 3 oscars including Best Picture; who knows what it would have done were it released to a more welcoming post-war market?
Oh yes- "I Remember Mama" is an RKO picture, too, was set between 1910 and about 1915, and runs 134 minutes. As Welles said, you really need a couple of hours to establish the depth and breadth of that kind of story.