If you were going to Frankenstein yourself a proper awards season contender, you'd not end up too far away from Mank, the trailer for which has just landed. You've got a film by brilliant director who's unaccountably not won an Oscar yet, plus a certified acting ledge playing a real person from the past, multiplied by a booze-soaked Old Hollywood setting, noir styling and a really gorgeous monochrome look.
Mank is the new one from The Social Network and Se7en director David Fincher and follows Herman J ‘Mank’ Mankiewicz, the screenwriter who penned Citizen Kane, as he rushes to get his manuscript finished for Orson Welles. Gary Oldman, already an Oscar winner for playing a real person from the past, will play Mankiewicz, and Amanda Seyfried the actor Marion Davies. As you can see, it's an extremely Citizen Kane-styled retelling of the making of Citizen Kane, running with the chance to make a noirish, stylised tribute to the films Welles and Mankiewicz made. It'll be in theatres in November before hitting Netflix on 4 December.
The period Mank covers was a chaotic career high for Mankiewicz: by 1940 he’d contributed to The Wizard of Oz and become known for his hard-boiled, sardonic wit. As well as being a writer, Mankiewicz was a scathing social critic and a general bon viveur in Los Angeles. All that bon viving did turn into alcoholism, and he ended up turning friends including Welles into enemies. Mank will dig into all of that.
“God, if I hadn't loved him I would have hated him after all those ridiculous stories,” Welles remembered later, “persuading people I was offering him money to have his name taken off [Citizen Kane].”
Charles Dance, incidentally, will turn up as William Randolph Hearst, the media magnate whose empire included Esquire. Hearst was convinced that Citizen Kane was based on his own life, and not without reason – his speeches and those of Charles Kane are almost word-for-word the same, and Mankiewicz had been in his orbit.
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