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Mankiewicz on Mankiewicz


Emily Dean
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I suppose I have high expectations for Ben because I really, really like him.   Except, Ben you never own up to your relations.  It does say..."movies, they are in my blood, they are part of who I am" and then you introduce such grand events in the lives of your family members such as "Citizen Kane", "Cleopatra" and "All About Eve" along with a "Letter to Three Wives" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" with no attention to detail or any signs that these movies "are a part of who he is". I am certain many avid classic movie fans would love to hear more about your Great Uncle and Grandfather and Uncle and lives in film.  Listening for details is what I most enjoy about TCM's presentation of classic films. 

 

Then there is Herman with "The Wizard of Oz", "Dinner at Eight", along with the distinction of being recognized by Goebbels and being specifically banned by the Nazi's, thus limiting what MGM could show in pre-war Germany.  Little known to me was the fact that he wrote the original script to "Gentleman Prefer Blondes". 

 

Don't forget Tom.  Tom played a significant role as both a screen writer and screen doctor for movies in the late sixties, through the seventies including "Where Eagles Dare", "Superman, The Movie" and several early James Bond movies.

 

Let's have a "Mankiewicz Month" and Ben could tell us just how much "they are in his blood".

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Yeah, I too, noticed how he never brings any of that up.

 

Could be he doesn't wish to appear he's riding on their coattails.

 

GEORGE C. SCOTT had a daughter who was in the cast of some '70's TV show( forgot which one) and auditioned and won the role with a name change, not wishing to be though of as the girl "who only got the part 'cause she's George's kid."

 

 

Sepiatone

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I suppose I have high expectations for Ben because I really, really like him.   Except, Ben you never own up to your relations.  It does say..."movies, they are in my blood, they are part of who I am" and then you introduce such grand events in the lives of your family members such as "Citizen Kane", "Cleopatra" and "All About Even" along with a "Letter to Three Wives" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" with no attention to detail or any signs that these movies "are a part of who he is". I am certain many avid classic movie fans would love to hear more about your Great Uncle and Grandfather and Uncle and lives in film.  Listening for details is what I most enjoy about TCM's presentation of classic films. 

 

Then there is Herman with "The Wizard of Oz", "Dinner at Eight", along with the distinction of being recognized by Goebbels and being specifically banned by the Nazi's, thus limiting what MGM could show in pre-war Germany.  Little known to me was the fact that he wrote the original script to "Gentleman Prefer Blondes". 

 

Don't forget Tom.  Tom played a significant role as both a screen writer and screen doctor for movies in the late sixties, through the seventies including "Where Eagles Dare", "Superman, The Movie" and several early James Bond movies.

 

Let's have a "Mankiewicz Month" and Ben could tell us just how much "they are in his blood".

He could have said a lot about last night's "Cleopatra" - it is impossible to believe that this is a Joseph M. Mankiewicz film - it is incredibly BAD - but, perhaps, he chose to err on the side of "good taste".

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I'd like to see TCM do a documentary on the Mankiewicz moviemakers.  With Ben narrating or possibly being interviewed.  Plus Emily Dean's idea of a Mankiewicz month.  They made many more good films than bad.  

 

"Cleopatra" would have to fit in somewhere, but when you read about what Joseph Mankiewicz went through just to get the film made, it can't be dismissed;  maybe a documentary on the making of "Cleopatra" (1963) would be "must-see tv".  It would Not have to be unflattering to the Mankiewicz family.  

 

Dick Sheppard's 1974 biography of Elizabeth Taylor has the most detailed recollections of the circus  that was the filming of "Cleopatra" (1963).  The 2010 book "Furious Love" comes in second place, with a distinct emphasis on Taylor and Burton's love affair.  Both are worth reading.

 

I can't dismiss "Cleopatra" (1963).  It is incredibly Uneven, but Rex Harrison's Caesar is very good, and Taylor varies from excellent to complete ineptitude, from scene to scene--her performance is near impossible for me to judge .  

 

For the record, E.T. said the first time she saw C, she had to go throw up, she was so nauseated.

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He could have said a lot about last night's "Cleopatra" - it is impossible to believe that this is a Joseph M. Mankiewicz film - it is incredibly BAD - but, perhaps, he chose to err on the side of "good taste".

Rayban:   His abject failure on mentioning any part of the Mank connection with CLEOPATRA is what led me to make this post.  Time after time all these great Mankiewicz films come up and he is totally blank on any connections.  I really believed that his relationship to such important influences in films is the reason TCM selected him to be a presenter.  To be totally silent on any connections surprises me...I had the belief (erroneous I guess) that his connections is what made him a great presenter.  I am disappointed to say the least. 

 

I truly enjoyed the day he spent with his dad on Father's day and hope at sometime to see a repeat.  I truly want more connection with the classics, not less.  That is why I was so glad to have Ben and Bob as hosts.  Their observations are meaningful and personally connected.  Other presenters are most likely relying on research (either by themselves or some 20 year old) to add flavour to the films.  Based on my readings I am more versed and connected to the films and personnel than some of those who are currently presenting. 

 

Matthew Broderick seemed so totally disconnected to his presentation that I was put off the whole evening.  But I kvetch too much. 

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Rayban:   His abject failure on mentioning any part of the Mank connection with CLEOPATRA is what led me to make this post.  Time after time all these great Mankiewicz films come up and he is totally blank on any connections.  I really believed that his relationship to such important influences in films is the reason TCM selected him to be a presenter.  To be totally silent on any connections surprises me...I had the belief (erroneous I guess) that his connections is what made him a great presenter.  I am disappointed to say the least. 

 

I truly enjoyed the day he spent with his dad on Father's day and hope at sometime to see a repeat.  I truly want more connection with the classics, not less.  That is why I was so glad to have Ben and Bob as hosts.  Their observations are meaningful and personally connected.  Other presenters are most likely relying on research (either by themselves or some 20 year old) to add flavour to the films.  Based on my readings I am more versed and connected to the films and personnel than some of those who are currently presenting. 

 

Matthew Broderick seemed so totally disconnected to his presentation that I was put off the whole evening.  But I kvetch too much. 

Girlfriend, I like that you had the guts to say the following with no false humility:

 

"Based on my readings I am more versed and connected to the films and personnel than some of those who are currently presenting."

 

And I have no doubt that you are dead on with that comment. I'm also sure that there are many others here too who could faultlessly lead a discussion on some TCM movies, without Cliff Notes and backstage interventions.

 

I like Ben very much and enjoy his commentary, but I can see your point that anyone who has some real first hand memories, is more fun listening to about a subject than just those who read their professor's film studies tome and are regurgitating it verbatim.

 

Keep "kvetching" because often those who "kvetch" are those who want to keep up quality and standards for any product. 

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Ben's grandfather died about 25 years before he was born and if I'm remembering correctly, he only met Joe a couple of times, even though he didn't die until Ben was a young teenager. So I guess what I'm saying is maybe he doesn't feel like he should play the relative card when he's presenting the films in which they were involved. He did say some nice things on Twitter about Tom & Don when they died in the last few years.

 

It would be nice if they did a showcase of their work in the future.

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Ben's grandfather died about 25 years before he was born and if I'm remembering correctly, he only met Joe a couple of times, even though he didn't die until Ben was a young teenager. So I guess what I'm saying is maybe he doesn't feel like he should play the relative card when he's presenting the films in which they were involved. He did say some nice things on Twitter about Tom & Don when they died in the last few years.

 

It would be nice if they did a showcase of their work in the future.

What you say is totally valid, Helen and I get your point.

 

But you know how in families, you still get a lot of insider scoops on things, that it might be fun to hear if Ben was willing to impart them.

 

It may totally be his reluctance to be dropping names but I think most movie fans who dig old films would still find his comments fascinating.

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What you say is totally valid, Helen and I get your point.

 

But you know how in families, you still get a lot of insider scoops on things, that it might be fun to hear if Ben was willing to impart them.

 

It may totally be his reluctance to be dropping names but I think most movie fans who dig old films would still find his comments fascinating.

 

I would like to see a debate between the Welles and Mankiewicz clans over the Citizen Kane screenplay.

 

The L.A. Times mentioned this, again, just last week,  with the latest scoop being that it has been confirmed Welles did write sections of the screenplay.   The Times even mentioned TCM and how Mankiewicz (not Ben) utilized the station to repeat the claim Welles didn't write a single word.

 

This event could start out like a standard Presidential debate but end up like a 3 Stooges pie fight.   (which could be how a Trump and HRC debate ends up!).

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I would like to see a debate between the Welles and Mankiewicz clans over the Citizen Kane screenplay.

 

The L.A. Times mentioned this, again, just last week,  with the latest scoop being that it has been confirmed Welles did write sections of the screenplay.   The Times even mentioned TCM and how Mankiewicz (not Ben) utilized the station to repeat the claim Welles didn't write a single word.

 

This event could start out like a standard Presidential debate but end up like a 3 Stooges pie fight.   (which could be how a Trump and HRC debate ends up!).

Oooooh!

 

I'm there for this debate. I think you should host it, James and please don't ask Megyn Kelly or any other of the presidential moderators to get involved.

 

This sounds so juicy! Having watched "The Lady from Shanghai" yesterday and having appreciated all films by Welles, it's not that I think he could not have written the script, but did he is the question.

 

Of course, the inside stuff that only Mankiewicz would know about the buddies of Hearst and his San Simeon intimates would have had to have come from Mank.

 

Maybe Soupy Sales could be there to host the part where they start throwing whipped cream pies at each clan?

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Ben's grandfather died about 25 years before he was born and if I'm remembering correctly, he only met Joe a couple of times, even though he didn't die until Ben was a young teenager. So I guess what I'm saying is maybe he doesn't feel like he should play the relative card when he's presenting the films in which they were involved. He did say some nice things on Twitter about Tom & Don when they died in the last few years.

It would be nice if they did a showcase of their work in the future.

 

Well some backstory things Ben would be most reluctant to discuss; just the whole Joseph Mankiewicz claim to have bedded all his leading ladies could take up the wraparounds for countless films, includong CLEOPATRA (although Liz was supposed to have done thisduring the making of SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER).

 

Just think having to discuss your great-uncle.as having been responsible for mentally screwing up (or at least being a big part of) the likes of Judy Garland and Linda Darnell. Or bedding Joan Crawford, Gene Tierney, Ava Gardner, etc. etc. etc. Can't see Ben wishing to delve into this.

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Well some backstory things Ben would be most reluctant to discuss; just the whole Joseph Mankiewicz claim to have bedded all his leading ladies could take up the wraparounds for countless films, includong CLEOPATRA (although Liz was supposed to have done thisduring the making of SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER).

 

Just think having to discuss your great-uncle.as having been responsible for mentally screwing up (or at least being a big part of) the likes of Judy Garland and Linda Darnell. Or bedding Joan Crawford, Gene Tierney, Ava Gardner, etc. etc. etc. Can't see Ben wishing to delve into this.

Arturo:  I could care less about bedroom cavorting as it occurs so frequently as to be boring.  I am more interested in the "ins and outs" of directing, screenwriting and other talents.  Where their work intersects with relationships regarding production values, skills to get the job done and talents involved in film making is what interests me. 

 

As to whether Joe's personal involvement had any great influence in "mentally" disturbing the above stars is really of no import as, if my history is accurate, there were any number of others who contributed to the above ladies mental health including with Judy, Mayer's great contribution to her overall mental health.

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I suppose I have high expectations for Ben because I really, really like him. Except, Ben you never own up to your relations. It does say..."movies, they are in my blood, they are part of who I am" and then you introduce such grand events in the lives of your family members such as "Citizen Kane", "Cleopatra" and "All About Eve" along with a "Letter to Three Wives" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" with no attention to detail or any signs that these movies "are a part of who he is". I am certain many avid classic movie fans would love to hear more about your Great Uncle and Grandfather and Uncle and lives in film. Listening for details is what I most enjoy about TCM's presentation of classic films.

 

Then there is Herman with "The Wizard of Oz", "Dinner at Eight", along with the distinction of being recognized by Goebbels and being specifically banned by the Nazi's, thus limiting what MGM could show in pre-war Germany. Little known to me was the fact that he wrote the original script to "Gentleman Prefer Blondes".

 

Don't forget Tom. Tom played a significant role as both a screen writer and screen doctor for movies in the late sixties, through the seventies including "Where Eagles Dare", "Superman, The Movie" and several early James Bond movies.

 

Let's have a "Mankiewicz Month" and Ben could tell us just how much "they are in his blood".

I remember Ben's father very well. He was Bobby Kennedy's press secretary, Frank Mankiewicz.

 

It was left to him to announce to the world that Bobby Kennedy had died from an assassin's bullet after winning the California Primary in 1968.

 

As far as playing the relative card is concerned, Ben Mankiewicz wouldn't be on TCM if his name was Ben Jones. He does a good job, but so could hundreds of others.

 

However, I do think that Old Time movie fans do love any connection that a person alive today had with the Golden Age of Hollywood.

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I'm trying to keep all the Mankiewicz' straight-- but I think, I do recall that Joe's second wife committed suicide. I wonder where that would fit in with all of his extramarital affairs.

 

According to my research on Judy, she was very serious about Joe and it was LB Mayer who broke that one up.

 

But when it came to Judy, Mayer was the one who was in control, as long as he was in control of the studio.

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Well, to be fair - Ben M did briefly talk about Joe M and his recommendation to Fox that the original 6 hour Cleopatra cut be distributed as 2 separate films & that

. Those were interesting enough tidbits for me to go googling for more - as a result, I'll probably now have to hunt down the behind the scenes documentary from 2001 & wonder if Fox ever found further material to reconstruct any more of that original cut beyond the current 4 hour one  - those are the kind of snippets that I'd realistically expect from the time limited intro/outro segments.

 

As Arturo pointed out, bearing that family name probably implies as much a degree of family discretion, as it might provide opportunity for fascinating backstories.

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Arturo:  I could care less about bedroom cavorting as it occurs so frequently as to be boring.  I am more interested in the "ins and outs" of directing, screenwriting and other talents.  Where their work intersects with relationships regarding production values, skills to get the job done and talents involved in film making is what interests me. 

 

As to whether Joe's personal involvement had any great influence in "mentally" disturbing the above stars is really of no import as, if my history is accurate, there were any number of others who contributed to the above ladies mental health including with Judy, Mayer's great contribution to her overall mental health.

Well, if he.was.as young as he was when his great-uncle died, and wasn't around much for his grandfather, I don't see what type of insights he might of gleened.alo.g the lines of those you mentioned. Anything he might've overheard or been told would have been along the lines of what a.bastard Zanuck was, not that Zanuck cut CLEOPATRA to four hours, or that he pruned one of the wives in A LETTER TO THREE WIVES.
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Well, to be fair - Ben M did briefly talk about Joe M and his recommendation to Fox that the original 6 hour Cleopatra cut be distributed as 2 separate films & that

. Those were interesting enough tidbits for me to go googling for more - as a result, I'll probably now have to hunt down the behind the scenes documentary from 2001 & wonder if Fox ever found further material to reconstruct any more of that original cut beyond the current 4 hour one - those are the kind of snippets that I'd realistically expect from the time limited intro/outro segments.

 

As Arturo pointed out, bearing that family name probably implies as much a degree of family discretion, as it might provide opportunity for fascinating backstories.

The.documentary on the making of CLEOPATRA is a bonus on the 40th anniversary dvd, and 50th anniversary dvd and blueray sets. The story of the making of the film.is quite fascinating, in some ways more.compelling than the actual movie. Mankiewicz arrived late, after the original director Rouben Mammoulian had been fired and millions.spent, with only minutes of footage to show for it, mostly due to Liz's many ailments. Production was shut down, as The new director ordered new sets built near Rome,.instead of.England, and he decided.to rewrite the script. Cast members such as Peter Finch and.Stephen Boyd were replaced by Rex.Harrison and Richard Burton, as the former had to move on to other commitments. Of course, the casting of Burton changed the course of the film, and the resultant affair brought massive publicity, even condemnation from the US Congress.and the Vatican.

 

One of the reasons Zanuck vetoed the two three hour films, is that the first would have been CAESAR AND CLEOPATRA, with Liz' paramour, Richard Burton as Marc.Anthony, featured for some ten minutes at most. The most saleable aspect of the film.could not be exploited. Worse, the relationship might be over by the time the second one was released, and public interest.waned.

 

Last I heard, the missing footage has not been located, but there.seems.to be an active search for it.

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Arturo--Another reason they were not split into two three hour films was the fact that Richard Burton's role would be severely cut, with the second three hour movie to be filmed sometime in the future.

 

Burton's reaction (told to Spyros Skouras, then head of 20th-Century Fox: "I will sue you until you are puce."*

 

*--From Dick Sheppards' 1974 biography of Elizabeth Taylor.

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Well, if he.was.as young as he was when his great-uncle died, and wasn't around much for his grandfather, I don't see what type of insights he might of gleened.alo.g the lines of those you mentioned. Anything he might've overheard or been told would have been along the lines of what a.bastard Zanuck was, not that Zanuck cut CLEOPATRA to four hours, or that he pruned one of the wives in A LETTER TO THREE WIVES.

Arturo:  there may have been much in the verbal history of the family coming from relatives, notes etc.  I mean after all the family did hang on to ROSEBUD...so I bet there is other information available.  However I brought the topic up only in my non satisfying experience to the intro of CLEOPATRA and other Mankiewicz films he has presented.  Thanks for your interest.

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Arturo--Another reason they were not split into two three hour films was the fact that Richard Burton's role would be severely cut, with the second three hour movie to be filmed sometime in the future.

 

Burton's reaction (told to Spyros Skouras, then head of 20th-Century Fox: "I will sue you until you are puce."*

 

*--From Dick Sheppards' 1974 biography of Elizabeth Taylor.

Actually, it was.already filmed. .Mankiewicz assembled a film.six hours long, which was unacceptable to release at that length. So he proposed dividing it into two films, each approximately three hours. Zanuck nixed this, for the reasons I stated. So he cut.out two hours of the six hour film.

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I suppose I have high expectations for Ben because I really, really like him.   Except, Ben you never own up to your relations.  It does say..."movies, they are in my blood, they are part of who I am" and then you introduce such grand events in the lives of your family members such as "Citizen Kane", "Cleopatra" and "All About Eve" along with a "Letter to Three Wives" and "The Ghost and Mrs. Muir" with no attention to detail or any signs that these movies "are a part of who he is". I am certain many avid classic movie fans would love to hear more about your Great Uncle and Grandfather and Uncle and lives in film.  Listening for details is what I most enjoy about TCM's presentation of classic films. 

 

Then there is Herman with "The Wizard of Oz", "Dinner at Eight", along with the distinction of being recognized by Goebbels and being specifically banned by the Nazi's, thus limiting what MGM could show in pre-war Germany.  Little known to me was the fact that he wrote the original script to "Gentleman Prefer Blondes". 

 

Don't forget Tom.  Tom played a significant role as both a screen writer and screen doctor for movies in the late sixties, through the seventies including "Where Eagles Dare", "Superman, The Movie" and several early James Bond movies.

 

Let's have a "Mankiewicz Month" and Ben could tell us just how much "they are in his blood".

 

For every person who might love this piece of film history (like myself), there will be those who would complain of him "always bringing up his relatives. Why can't he just present the movie without bragging about his family ??" So I think its best he just do there straight. And maybe do a special or two just about his family and contain all his comments there.

 

No matter what you do or how you do it, there will always be others on the other side of the fence. For example: I've enjoyed Cleopatra having watched it many times. And as a matter of fact its one of the films I recommend to my friends who want to get interested in classic film. And the tend to like it also.

 

So you never really know. 

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For every person who might love this piece of film history (like myself), there will be those who would complain of him "always bringing up his relatives. Why can't he just present the movie without bragging about his family ??" So I think its best he just do there straight. And maybe do a special or two just about his family and contain all his comments there.

 

No matter what you do or how you do it, there will always be others on the other side of the fence. For example: I've enjoyed Cleopatra having watched it many times. And as a matter of fact its one of the films I recommend to my friends who want to get interested in classic film. And the tend to like it also.

 

So you never really know. 

It is so nice to hear Ben reference his Uncle Joe when discussing some of Joe's movies.  Several times now he has commented on how his Uncle got involved with a particular film and this was especially interesting yesterday when Ben introduced "People Will Talk". I like a little history with my TCM films as they help me to relate more to the film and the people who made them.  Interesting to note that this film in particular was a rebuttal to the Joe McCarthy and his HUAC investigations along with Cecil DeMille's request that all members of the Screen Actors Guild sign a loyalty oath and how Joe successfully fought that action.  

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It is so nice to hear Ben reference his Uncle Joe when discussing some of Joe's movies.  Several times now he has commented on how his Uncle got involved with a particular film and this was especially interesting yesterday when Ben introduced "People Will Talk". I like a little history with my TCM films as they help me to relate more to the film and the people who made them. Interesting to note that this film in particular was a rebuttal to the Joe McCarthy and his HUAC investigations along with Cecil DeMille's request that all members of the Screen Actors Guild sign a loyalty oath and how Joe successfully fought that action.

 

This reminds me Emily...

 

Does anybody know if they ever recreated on stage or in film that night in October 1950 when this all came to a head, and when all the big name directors of the time held that very heated Guild meeting at the Beverly Hills Hotel about that oath?

 

(...I know there was talk years ago about filming such a thing and I believe director Richard Brooks was hot to do it, but I don't know if this sort of project ever came to fruition)

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