Joseph L. Mankiewicz

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domino harvey
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Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#1 Post by domino harvey » Fri Aug 21, 2009 4:25 pm

Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993)

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I got a job at Metro and went in to see Louis Mayer, who told me he wanted me to be a producer. I said I wanted to write and direct. He said, 'No, you have to produce first, you have to crawl before you can walk.' Which is as good a definition of producing as I ever heard.


Filmography

Fast Company (1929) (Screenplay only)

Slightly Scarlet (1930) (Screenplay only)

Paramount on Parade (1930) (Screenplay only)

The Social Lion (1930) (Screenplay only)

Only Saps Work (1931) (Screenplay only)

The Gang Buster (1931) (Screenplay only)

Finn & Hattie (1931) (Screenplay only)

June Moon (1931) (Screenplay only)

Skippy (1931) (Screenplay only)

Newly Rich (1931) (Screenplay only)

Sooky (1931) (Screenplay only)

This Reckless Age (1932) (Screenplay only)

Sky Bride (1932) (Screenplay only)

Million Dollar Legs (1932) (Story only)

Diplomaniacs (1933) (Screenplay only)

Emergency Call (1933) (Screenplay only)

Too Much Harmony (1933) (Story only)

Alice in Wonderland (1933) (Screenplay only)

Manhattan Melodrama (1934) (Screenplay only) R1 Warners

Our Daily Bread (1934) (Additional dialog only) R1 Image

Forsaking All Others (1934) (Screenplay only)

I Live My Life (1935) (Screenplay only)

The Keys to the Kingdom (1944) (Screenplay only) R1 Fox

Dragonwyck (1946) R1 Fox

Somewhere in the Night (1946) R1 Fox

The Late George Apley (1947) R1 Fox DVD-R

The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947) R1/A Fox

Escape (1948)

A Letter to Three Wives (1949) R1/A Fox

House of Strangers (1949) R1 Fox

No Way Out (1950) R1 Fox

All About Eve (1950) R1/A Fox

People Will Talk (1951) R1 Fox

5 Fingers (1952) R1 Fox DVD-R / R2 Optimum

Julius Caesar (1953) R1 Warners

The Barefoot Contessa (1954) R1 MGM

Guys and Dolls (1955) R1 MGM / RA Warners

The Quiet American (1958) R1 MGM

Suddenly, Last Summer (1959) R1 Columbia

Cleopatra (1963) R1/A Fox

Carol For Another Christmas (1964)

The Honey Pot (1967) R2 Optimum

King (Co-directed with Sidney Lumet 1970) R1 Kino

There Was a Crooked Man... (1970) R1 Warners

Sleuth (1972) R1 Anchor Bay OOP / R2


Forum Resources

The Alternate Oscars: Best Picture (1927-1968)

Bette Davis 100th Birthday Celebration Box Set

Cleopatra

Fox Horror Classics

Fox Noir Collection

Loy & Powell Collection

Marlon Brando Collection

Tennessee Williams Film Collection
Last edited by domino harvey on Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:33 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Tommaso
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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#2 Post by Tommaso » Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:31 am

I watched "Suddenly, Last Summer" for the first time last night and am still somewhat unsure what to make of it storywise, especially as I don't know the Tennessee Williams book it's based on.
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Okay, we learn in the end how Sebastian died, but it's not quite clear to me why the Katherine Hepburn character takes such means to cover up the death (especially as the Taylor character doesn't remember it anyhow, and neither Hepburn nor Taylor are responsible for Sebastian's death). I suppose what we see in the end is a thinly veiled version of a homosexual gang rape which would be of course unacceptable for the reputation of a woman of that society and a quasi-incestuous mother on top of it, but if this is so (and the name Sebastian alone is a pointer into that direction), then the censorship obligations made the whole thing so unclear that it's irritating and vague even fifty years later. Also, the portrayal of the poor youths at the end borders on racism, and not just because this is Spain and not some weird imaginary 'primitive' country.
But apart from this, certainly a fascinating film with magnificent acting by the two ladies and a good and convincing performance by Clift. Great dialogue playing on the violence of nature and of God, and striking visuals in the garden scenes and the scenes in the asylum. I think this should be better known than it seems to be these days.

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thirtyframesasecond
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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#3 Post by thirtyframesasecond » Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:45 am

Suddenly Last Summer is a play that should be widely available, either alone or in a Williams' anthology. My memory's not so great on either play nor film but I'm sure some of the more sordid elements inferred from the play were cut.

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#4 Post by HarryLong » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:09 am

I'm sure some of the more sordid elements inferred from the play were cut
Oh, good gracious, yes.
And as the play is a long one-act (possibly an hour?) the film has some padding, too.

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#5 Post by HarryLong » Tue Aug 25, 2009 10:33 am

Tommaso
I watched "Suddenly, Last Summer" for the first time last night and am still somewhat unsure what to make of it storywise, especially as I don't know the Tennessee Williams book it's based on.
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Difficult though it may be to conceive these days (or maybe not), Mama wants to conceal the details of Sebastian's death because revelation of them would expose his homosexuality and bring shame on the family - yes they thought thatw ay beck in the 1950s ... some people still do. As to the manner of his death, he wasn't raped, buit devoured. Sebastian is alway referring to the boys/trade of whatever area he's in as "meat" ("Tired of the dark meat, starved for the light."), this is a symbollically appropriate end, I suppose.

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Tommaso
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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#6 Post by Tommaso » Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:28 pm

Harry, your interpretation then goes more or less along the same lines of what I thought must be the reason for Hepburn's character's actions. But I read
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the devouring as a metaphor for rape or at least for some sort of mass orgy; it's somewhat hard to believe that if Sebastian was literally devoured, as the story by Taylor's character indeed indicates, this should have been less shocking for the audience of the time than homosexual acts; but probably the times were like this. I guess they tried to make the devouring more 'believable' by making these Spanish kids as semi-human as possible; that's what I meant when I wrote that these scenes bordered on racism. Sebastian regarding the kids as 'meat' falls into the same line, even though I agree that there is an additional symbolical meaning involved here (flesh vs spirit, for instance).

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domino harvey
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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#7 Post by domino harvey » Tue Aug 25, 2009 4:52 pm

It's certainly representative, but he was literally
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cannibalized in the one-act-- not so unusual an ending, considering the mutilation that ended the stage version of Sweet Bird of Youth. And another way to look at Hepburn's abject horror at being told her son was gay is not so much that she fears it getting out as that she fears it even being said: Once it's said aloud and accepted, she can no longer pretend he wasn't. Her terror is that, faced with the undeniably convincing Taylor's report of his ghastly demise, there can be no glib dismissal of her "revelation"-- thus the total shock to her system

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#8 Post by HarryLong » Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:32 pm

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And another way to look at Hepburn's abject horror at being told her son was gay is not so much that she fears it getting out as that she fears it even being said:
You're right, Domino, its that much more basic.
I'm sort of reminded of a tale one told me by a very flamboyant southern queen who finally decided to come out to his mother (this was back in the late 1960s). "Son," she told him in a voice that brooked no argument, "We do not have any of this in our family!"
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the devouring as a metaphor for rape or at least for some sort of mass orgy; it's somewhat hard to believe that if Sebastian was literally devoured, as the story by Taylor's character indeed indicates, this should have been less shocking for the audience of the time than homosexual acts
I don't think the metaphor went any deeper than Sebastian's (in the vernacular) "eating" the boys who let themselves be done for a few pennies (& because Sabby was using Catherine as bait to make them horny) & the hungry lads finally decided to literally eat the rich American. I really don't see it as anything sexual on their part, so I reject the orgy suggestion.
Which isn't to say that it's not a possible interpretation - it's just not one I'm buying.
This may be the most redacted post I've ever made. It looks like a CIA report on torture ...

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#9 Post by domino harvey » Tue Feb 23, 2010 11:05 pm

To be fair, I can't really think of a Western comedy I enjoy, but There Was a Crooked Man... is just so wrongheaded that I can't even wrap my head around it. The film's tone is utterly at odds with the action depicted-- Kirk Douglas' trajectory is pitch black, brutal, and cruel and the film's score, pacing, and timing is played for comedy. This might've made an interesting little straight Western but-- wait, speaking of straight, the film spends an inordinate amount of time on an old pair of queens, one half of which is Hume Cronyn in a Little Dutch Boy haircut and the less said about the the Glenn Beck doppelganger guard who tries in vain to lure the blonde-haired farmboy, the better. For the life of me, I cannot figure out what Mankiewicz is after here-- why all the gratuitous nudity from both sexes? Why the wholly inappropriate and persistent musical score? The disconnect between how the film spends the first 100 minutes and how it winds down the pitch is gaping.
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The tone shift of the prison escapees just blindly killing everyone in their path, including each other, is ludicrous in context and playing it without the present lightness would have made this such a more memorable "prison escape" film. No comraderie, just chaos. That the whole buddy-buddyness of the film is revealed to have been a con, well, that's material you can work with. But it's clumsily handled here and again, there's nothing charming or fun about any of it

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#10 Post by HarryLong » Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:38 am

There's a possible missing credit above if some info I uncovered while researching an article is accurate. Back in 1929 Paramount mde THE MYSTERIOUS DR. FU MANCHU in both silent & sound versions - in this case that likely means the sound version simply went out with subtitles. Reportedly Mankiewicz wrote the subtitles. (talk about a footnote to a career...)

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#11 Post by Nothing » Thu Feb 25, 2010 5:51 am

I enjoy All About Eve as much as the next man, but still find it rather hard to forgive Mankiewicz for his mendacious CIA-backed bastardization of The Quiet American.

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#12 Post by knives » Sun Apr 04, 2010 10:34 pm

Don't know where better to place this.
I just saw the one movie more eye rollingly bad than Gentleman's Agreement, and of course it stars Gregory Peck. If not for the natural, albeit creepy, charm of a Vincent Price cameo The Keys to the Kingdom would be the worst film I've seen from classic Hollywood. It's dreadfully dull and mistakenly racist in equal terms. This is a film so bad in achieving its apparent goals that the casting of actual Asians is the closest I can come to a compliment. I will give it this though, the pacing was well enough to raise the film from boring to simply uninteresting.

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#13 Post by domino harvey » Fri Nov 26, 2010 11:48 am

Mankiewicz is a top-tier director, an equal of Preminger, Hitchcock, and Hawks, but he hasn't received the home video-era second wind reevaluation those directors have. And so while it may not be fashionable to say so, he's still an auteur of the highest rank. As I wind my way down his oeuvre (only two more films to go!), the hits just keep on coming.

If Mankiewicz's films are pictures of and about self-confidence, then perhaps 5 Fingers is the most Mankiewiczian Mankiewicz film. Here Mankiewicz's erudite intelligence in construction and execution is applied to a nifty spy story that impresses in its gumption above all. Shockingly, the film manages to make the story of a British spy who sold secrets to the Germans during WWII into a non-villain or cautionary character. James Mason's Cicero is a somewhat pathetic valet obsessed with attaining the status of Gentleman while being stuck as a Gentleman's Gentleman, and the casual nonchalance he brings to his role as spy is darling. His actions are the ultimate political move because they completely disregard all politics save economic and class concerns. When a Nazi asks him what he believes in, he holds up a stack of pound notes. The film too is constructed from a non-political stance, one of awe: there is genuine admiration for Cicero's actions and the mechanations which he operates under. As the twists start compounding in the final act, you can sense yet again the Mankiewicz staple of snowballing joy in the ever-approaching inevitable, and the film exudes a caper-y lightness in witty dialog and plot that calls to mind a heist comedy, not a dour war film.

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#14 Post by HypnoHelioStaticStasis » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:05 am

domino harvey wrote:To be fair, I can't really think of a Western comedy I enjoy, but There Was a Crooked Man... is just so wrongheaded that I can't even wrap my head around it. The film's tone is utterly at odds with the action depicted-- Kirk Douglas' trajectory is pitch black, brutal, and cruel and the film's score, pacing, and timing is played for comedy. This might've made an interesting little straight Western but-- wait, speaking of straight, the film spends an inordinate amount of time on an old pair of queens, one half of which is Hume Cronyn in a Little Dutch Boy haircut and the less said about the the Glenn Beck doppelganger guard who tries in vain to lure the blonde-haired farmboy, the better. For the life of me, I cannot figure out what Mankiewicz is after here-- why all the gratuitous nudity from both sexes? Why the wholly inappropriate and persistent musical score? The disconnect between how the film spends the first 100 minutes and how it winds down the pitch is gaping.
I just watched this yesterday, and i felt compelled to chime in and say I too was really baffled by this oater, yet at the same time, I was completely mesmerized and even a little shocked by it. I don't whether to attribute its bottomless cynicism to Mankiewicz or the writers Robert Benton and David Newman, but it goes beyond what most Hollywood films would consider correct, even of this weary era. No one is redeemed, no one really learns anything (Henry Fonda's character is just played as too repressed to be selfish early on, not necessarily as an out-and-out just man), and Douglas abandons everyone with carefree ease. I don't whether this is brilliant or just cartoonish, like if Tex Avery's Wolf led a crew of diamond thieves. Douglas even lies about wearing glasses! His character is an empty shell, a complete fabrication. Mankiewicz is far from humanistic, but this is pretty incredible, even for him. I can't say I like the film at all, but it has a certain gumption that I know will bring me back to it at some point.

That being said, did anyone else find this a very visually drab film? Overly bright in that 60's Hollywood way, almost theatrical. Maybe it was my TV, but I thought it the crummiest looking film of Mankiewicz's career.

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#15 Post by andyli » Sat Nov 27, 2010 10:22 am

All About Eve 60th Anniversary Blu-ray up on Amazon (Feb 1, 2010).

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#16 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:29 am

For those who want to complete their Mankiewicz (or Lumet) oeuvre without spending $45 for a DVD-R, King: A Filmed Record is available to stream in its full 3+ hour runtime, split in two parts, for $7.98 on Objective Cinema. It will be sweet to finally top off Mankiewicz's filmography!

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#17 Post by knives » Sun Jul 31, 2011 4:52 am

Do you know if there's a cheaper alternative out there and/ or if it's worth the money.

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#18 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jul 31, 2011 6:45 pm

No idea on the second point, though I intend to watch it soon. As for the first, all that's been available is the $45 DVD-R set and I haven't seen this available anywhere else, so I doubt it gets much cheaper-- it's about what a new release would cost to rent on Comcast, so not a bad deal

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#19 Post by Lemmy Caution » Thu Sep 25, 2014 2:57 am

Was just looking at the listing for the NYFF Joseph L. Mankiewicz tribute.
And realized how many interesting post-war Mankiewicz films I've yet to see.
Somewhere in the Night, A Letter to Three Wives, 5 Fingers, The Late George Apley, People Will Talk. Are those old Fox DVDs still in print?

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#20 Post by domino harvey » Thu Sep 25, 2014 7:30 am

Lemmy Caution wrote:Was just looking at the listing for the NYFF Joseph L. Mankiewicz tribute.
And realized how many interesting post-war Mankiewicz films I've yet to see.
Somewhere in the Night, A Letter to Three Wives, 5 Fingers, The Late George Apley, People Will Talk. Are those old Fox DVDs still in print?
Somewhere in the Night: Fox Noir R1
A Letter to Three Wives: Fox Blu-ray RA
5 Fingers: Studio Canal R2 (In James Mason collection) -- R1 is a DVD-R via Fox MOD
the Late George Apley: R2 Fox Spain -- R1 is a DVD-R via Fox MOD
People Will Talk: Fox R1

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#21 Post by Lemmy Caution » Fri Oct 03, 2014 4:33 am

Just saw this. Thanks.

Doesn't seem like I'm going to be able to see these any time soon.
But will keep an eye out for them.

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"In short, Cicero could be any one of us."

#22 Post by ando » Sat Feb 04, 2017 6:18 am

Decent streamer of 5 Fingers, though I don't share dh's high admiration for the film, it is a fun, light thriller. Trouble is the erudite script could have worked wonderfully as a radio feature; in fact, it might have worked better (just imagine how much more chilling the ending would be!). Mankiewicz' wooden blocking/drawing room approach is deadening. Couldn't we have had a few of the scenes, particularly between Diello (James Mason) and the Countess, transferred to a smart (or, at least, fun) location or two? Think Joe was a bit too safe here. The dialogue and Mason, however, are superb.

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Re: "In short, Cicero could be any one of us."

#23 Post by Jack Phillips » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:51 pm

ando wrote:Decent streamer of 5 Fingers, though I don't share dh's high admiration for the film, it is a fun, light thriller. Trouble is the erudite script could have worked wonderfully as a radio feature; in fact, it might have worked better (just imagine how much more chilling the ending would be!). Mankiewicz' wooden blocking/drawing room approach is deadening. Couldn't we have had a few of the scenes, particularly between Diello (James Mason) and the Countess, transferred to a smart (or, at least, fun) location or two? Think Joe was a bit too safe here. The dialogue and Mason, however, are superb.
There are some nice location shots when they finally get to Istanbul. Most of the film is set in Ankara, and I don't think Mank--or his second unit--did any shooting there (probably for cost considerations). I really like the location shooting, what we get of it, and wish there had been more. I certainly wouldn't want to give any of it up, though, so it's just as well the story wasn't a radio production.

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#24 Post by ando » Sat Feb 04, 2017 2:58 pm

But it could have worked as one, yes? Mank directed some of the best scripts ever written.

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Re: Joseph L. Mankiewicz

#25 Post by Jack Phillips » Sat Feb 04, 2017 3:49 pm

ando wrote:But it could have worked as one, yes? Mank directed some of the best scripts ever written.
Yes, it's a very literate script. And with Herrmann's music, it would have worked very well for radio.

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