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Netflix Movie ‘Mank’: A Late Hollywood Story

Director David Fincher’s father, Jack Fincher, “wrote Mank ‘s script in the 1990s … This is the project that David Fincher wants to realize right after” The Game “(1997). He even hires Kevin Spacey and Jodie Foster for the lead roles. But the project is shelved because of David Fincher’s insistence on making the movie in black and white. Netflix won’t go off the shelf for years until it decides to launch it.

Mank‘ is the first and only screenplay of journalist writer Jack Fincher, who died at the age of 72 in 2003… Jack Fincher is based on the famous American film critic Pauline Kael’s article ‘Raising Kane’ published in The New Yorker in 1971. . In his long article, which you can find and read online, Kael argues that Orson Welles had little share in the script for the movie “Citizen Kane” (Citizen Kane). As a result of his research, Kael said that the script belongs to Herman J. Mankiewicz; He writes that this fact was known by many people in Hollywood in those years and was voiced on various occasions. However, after the first and last Oscars with the script of Citizen Kane, Orson Welles for some reason insists on ignoring the contribution of Herman J. Mankiewicz over the years.


Replies to Kael’s article are not delayed. Welles’ friend, former film writer director Peter Bogdanovich opposes Kael’s theses with his article “The Kane Mutiny” published in Esquire magazine in October 1972. Bogdanovich does not stay alone. Academician Robert L. Carringer also claims that Pauline Kael’s theses are not correct in his research called “The Scripts of Citizen Kane” published in 1978; It provides some evidence that Welles made significant changes to Mankiewicz’s script.

It is difficult to guess who is right in this debate. It is best to leave the job to historians; but for myself ‘I think Mank is a solid, grounded film regardless of all these discussions. Yes, the film follows from the thesis that Citizen Kane’s script was written largely by Herman J. Mankiewicz, known in Hollywood as Mank for short. It is implied that Orson Welles ignored Mankiewicz’s share of the script because of his magnificent ego well known in Hollywood. But there is no particular comment about Welles’ interventions or changes to the script. Mankiewicz closes the issue by saying “I built a narrative, showed the direction to go, the rest belongs to him now” at one point in the movie … In short, there is no disrespect for Welles’ filmmaker personality. After all, it should not be forgotten that Orson Welles is now remembered for his “unwilling” film and director Oscars, rather than the “Citizen Kane” script award he received from the Academy.

Besides, the main point of the movie is definitely not the Welles-Mankiewicz dispute… Except for a few scenes in the finale, this is a subject that the film hardly deals with… Because ‘Mank’ basically focuses on the conflict between Mankiewicz and William Randolph Hearst and goes further and goes beyond the Mankiewicz of the script of the movie ‘Citizen Kane’. –Hearst underlines that it emerged as a concrete reflection of the conflict.


As you know, Kane, whose life is described in Citizen Kane, is a character that brings to mind Hearst, as the audience in the USA will understand from the first scenes … Welles, who was only 24 years old at the time of the script, did not meet Hearst, the king of the press, There are many who claim that he is not in and out of his magnificent mansion. On the other hand, as we saw in the movie, Mankiewicz was one of Hearst and his wife Marion Davies’ circle of friends in those years… After all, it is certain that Mankiewicz describes a world he knew very well and a personality he knew personally.

In the film, we watch the story of “Citizen Kane” in a parallel setup that oscillates between the past and the present. Mank (Gary Oldman), whose leg was broken after an automobile accident, was placed in a secluded farm in 1940 by John Houseman (Sam Troughton) of Orson Welles’ team to write the script, or rather dictate it to the talented writer Rita (Lily Collins). During the writing process of the script, we often go back to the 1930s and we see how Mank got involved in the life of Hearst (Charles Dance) and his wife Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried), and how their relationship developed before they met …


‘Mank’ Is One Of The Best Movies About Hollywood Of The 1930s and 1940s

‘Mank’ is one of the best films on Hollywood of the 1930s and 1940s … Even though Mank and his experiences are in the foreground, it is certain that Hollywood’s relations with capital, media, politics and power are mapped from the bottom through Hearst. I cannot say that he has many scenes. He is generally depicted as a self-confident, calm, polite and intelligent man, especially in the scene where he appears as the director of an “amateur” western movie he shot in his garden. Leaving aside the ‘lattern and monkey’ story he told Mank, Hearst’s true personality and goals become clear in scenes we’ve never seen him. For example, that zoo he built inside his house says a lot about his personality. In the following chapters, we realize that there is not much difference between the animals in his garden and some people who enter and leave his house. Being as strong as owning is one of his biggest obsessions … Mank’s portrait of Hearst, based on Don Quixote, in that unforgettable ‘circus-themed’ New Year’s Eve scene, clearly points the way towards the tragedy we witnessed in the movie ‘Citizen Kane’. By the way, if we consider that the circus image appears on the poster, we can say that Fincher was trying to understand Hearst and his world through the circus metaphor.

It is possible to see ‘Mank as a film that complements‘ Citizen Kane. Welles sets up “Citizen Kane” in the form of a Shakespearean tragedy. Fincher constructs “Mank” as a political film that looks at Hollywood through capital-labor relations. The underhand of Hearst for the socialist writer Upton Sinclair to lose the California election is one of the critical stages of the story. The result of the election is also devastating for Mank, who wholeheartedly supports Sinclair and sees socialism as the “sharing of abundance.”

Politics is not only about Hearst’s personality in the film… The scene where MGM’s boss Louis B. Mayer (Arliss Howard) deceives the studio’s workers with fake tears during the Economic Depression; Irvin Thalberg (Ferdinand Kigsley), who is one of the respected studio managers of Hollywwod with his cinematic knowledge, intelligence and culture, is also one of the key figures in terms of political sub-texts. Unlike Mayer, Mank is a name he considers close to himself and respects. But his side of power and capital can change all the balances in Sinclair’s election.


Mank’s alcohol and gambling addiction is especially highlighted in the film. Mank is one of the cultured, intelligent, and intellectual people whose way to Hollywood came because of the high wages earned by the writers in those years… But Hollywood is a place where a conscientious person would find it difficult to lift… At the beginning of the film, studio boss David O. Selznick (Toby Leonard Moore) The script of Citizen Kane turns out to be the most important work of his life, for personal reasons, for Mank, which we witnessed that he did the scriptwriting without taking it too seriously, just to earn money and have fun.

“Mank” is one of those movies that Hollywood critically looks at and can become a classic in its genre… There are entertaining scenes about Hollywood as well as dramatic moments. For example, the scene where Paramount’s writers tell about the Frankenstein project to studio boss David O. Selznick and Joseph Von Sternberg … Let’s not forget the sausages that Marx Brothers, whom we have never seen in the film, cooked in Thalberg’s office … Mank’s remarks about King Kong and Mary Pickford are also fun but aware. The consequences of the seed that Thalberg sowed in his mind without it, are just as tragic …

This Is A Really Belated And Very Meaningful Story


We watch a movie shot from start to finish with a sarcastic sense of humor like Mank himself. On the other hand, towards the finale, the film is heading towards a more and more sad place with its main character … In that frame where he poses with his Oscar in his hand and a happy smile, he says that Fincher did a very correct job because he told the story of Herman J. ‘Mank’ Mankiewicz. we think. This is a really belated and very meaningful story… While the history of cinema books are so full of praise for the genius of Welles, I don’t have much to say to those who overestimate Fincher’s homage to Mankiewicz …

David Fincher shot “Mank” in a style that especially brings to mind black and white films of the 1930s and early 40s. These are the years that Mankiewicz was active in the cinema… He even added the rings in the upper right corner to remind the machinists to change coils to give the impression of watching an old movie. In the opening credits, he asked us to think of ourselves in a movie theater, or even in one of the seats in the front left, while looking at the screen. He applied the lighting styles of the 1930s with the cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt, with whom he worked on the TV series ‘Mindhunter‘; In some of the night scenes, pelikül used the grainy texture of the film. He tied many scenes together with his favorite blackening-fading technique of those years. He prepared the soundtrack in mono as in those years. On the other hand, it did not give up the widescreen 2.20: 1 format, which did not bring the 1930s to mind. As a result, it combined the style of the 1930s and the digital black and white aesthetics of the 2020s with a fine image craftsmanship. The music by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross is also made with the musical feel of the 1930s and the instruments of those years.


Gary Oldman does an excellent job from start to finish as Mank. He interprets the character’s mockery, suppressed emotional aspects and conscientious sensitivity with a great performance. Charles Dance shows just how right he is for the role of Hearst in every scene he plays. Tom Burke makes a memorable performance in Welles, although his time in the film is very short. Tuppence Middletown is as good as Amanda Seyfried and Lily Collins in “Poor” Sara.

All in all, “Mank” is a beautiful movie with everything … The parallel fiction between the writing process of the script and Mank’s relationship with MGM and Hearst is progressing very well. It is also a nice idea to present the episodes with subtitles as in the scenarios.

‘I think Mank is one of the best movies I have seen in 2020 for myself. Because of its controversial story, the Academy may divide its members into two, but I’m sure it will make a name for itself at the Oscar awards, at least with its nominations. You can watch “Mank” on Netflix as of today, which has been released in limited numbers in some countries, especially in the USA, in November.

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