From the outside looking in, the path from writing a screen play to seeing it on film is a simple process. But show business, like any business does not always make it easy for the screenwriter(s) to see their work come to life.
The 1941 film Citizen Kane is one of those movies that has been admired by generations of audience members. Directed by then twenty something wunderkind Orson Welles and co-written by Herman J. Mankiewicz, the story of the making of this film is as legendary as the film itself. The new Netflix film Mank tells the story of how the movie was was made.
In 1940, Mankiewicz, known as Mank (Gary Oldman) is commissioned by Welles (Tom Burke) to write a screenplay. As a writer, Mank is known as one of the best. But he is also an alcoholic and can be upfront in his opinions, which are not always polite or welcomed. The screenplay he writes is based on the time he has spent with the uber-wealthy William Randolph Hurst (Charles Dance) and Hurst’s much younger, long time mistress Marion Davies (Amanda Seyfried). Mank knows the scandal that will be created upon the release of the movie. But he and Welles forge on and ultimately create one of the most beloved and admired films to come out of Hollywood.
Every year, the various movie studios release films that are nothing but Oscar bait. Mank is one of them. Combining movie history with history from the period and the complicated politics of the era, it is not your average “behind the scenes” movie. If nothing else, Oldman is sure to receive any number of nominations, if not awards for his work. I loved that it was filmed in black and white, making it feel authentic. The problem is that it is slow narrative, possibly turning off some viewers.
Do I recommend it? Maybe.
Mank is available for streaming on Netflix.