Tonight we watched an Orson Welles classic, The Magnificent Ambersons (1942). To my mind, you can’t watch this sort of film without feeling sorry for Welles, as the studio (RKO) were determined to cut it down and into something he had never intended – and it shows (to read the list of deleted passages – over an hour’s worth – is painful in itself). Still, the film (based on Booth Tarkington’s 1918 novel, which I have never read, alas) does the business in portraying the evolution of American society from post-civil war grand families to pre-First World War industrialist dynasties. Welles’s script has some great one-liners. ‘The Ambersons were as conspicuous as a brass band at a funeral.’ ‘I thought everybody knew him. He looks as though everybody ought to know him.’ ‘The family like always to have somebody in Congress.’ ‘It’s indecent. Like squabbling outside the door of an operating theatre.’ When, in the end, the unbearably spoilt George Amberson Minafer gets his come-uppance the film has cleverly done enough to leave its audience ambivalent about the brave new world the industrialists have ushered in.