David Fincher’s upcoming flick ‘Mank” is all set to release on Netflix on December 4 after a brief theatrical release in November. Netflix released its teaser trailer on YouTube which showed that the movie entirely shot in black and white featuring Oscar-winner Gary Oldman in the lead role followed by Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Ferdinand Kingsley, Tom Pelphrey and Arliss Howard.

Synopsis: “1930s Hollywood is re-evaluated through the eyes of scathing social critic and alcoholic screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz as he races to finish the screenplay of Citizen Kane for Orson Welles.”

Mank is about the making of Citizen Kane:

When we heard about “Citizen Kane”, one name rings in our mind is Orson Welles who entirely credited for the making of the film but ironically the movie didn’t get ‘Best film” at Oscars but managed to get “Best Original Screenplay” award for Herman Mankiewicz (nickname: Mank) shared with Orson Welles. But Mank didn’t get credit for the movie “Citizen Kane” and this movie is his biopic drama about how he finished screenplay for Citizen Kane and his battles with director Orson Welles over screenplay credit for Citizen Kane.

Mank written by David Fincher’s father Jack Fincher:

Mank has been a passionate project for David Fincher since his younger days, and the idea and pre-production started back in 1993 when Fincher’s father working as LIFE magazine San Fransisco bureau chief, Howard Jack Fincher who actually wrote the screenplay of Mank. That passion projected further till 2003, when Fincher’s father died but not Fincher’s determination to make it into a movie. Even though, Fincher has been working for his other ventures, his love towards “Mank” was never minimized.

With “Mank”, after 6 years after Gone Girl release Fincher coming up with his next film whose Principal Photography started in November 2019 and wrapped in February 2019 before CoviD pandemic hit the industry.

Why Mank – An ambitious Project to Fincher?

As mentioned by The Fincher Analyst, this biographical story of Herman J. Mankiewicz, the writer of Orson Welles‘ epic motion picture Citizen Kane, was rumored as a pet project for David Fincher. From a script written by his father, Howard Fincher, the director’s black and white biopic targeted Seven star Kevin Spacey as the lead, with Panic Room‘s Jodie Foster in a co-starring role as movie actress Marion Davies. In production at the same time was HBO‘s telemovie RKO 281, which also covered the backstory of Citizen Kane (casting John Malkovich in the Mankiewicz role and Melanie Griffith as Davies). Still, the true story behind the creation of this mould-shattering movie and the writer behind it has enough scope for the production of a further feature by Fincher and his father.

David Fincher Revives One of His Longtime Dream Projects, “Mank” – The  Fincher Analyst
Herman J. Mankiewicz

Mankiewicz was alcoholic, cynical, ambitious and talented screen writer started his career with silent films such as The Road to Mandalay in 1926 and worked for more than 70 feature films during his lifetime. He once famously described Hollywood to a fellow writer in NYC by saying:

“Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don’t let this get around”.

When talkies were started Mankiewicz continued his journey to write stories or dialogue for films like Man of the World (1942), The Lost Squadron (1932), Dinner at Eight (1933) and It’s a Wonderful World (1939), as well as an uncredited rewrite on The Wizard of Oz; he also worked with the Marx Brothers as an executive producer on movies like Horse Feathers (1932) and Duck Soup (1933).

In 30’s his collaboration with Orson Welles for Citizen Kane made news when Mank forcedly shared his Oscar with Welles even though the movie was captured powerfully by Welles, Mank was never happy to be under-credited and the great majority of the script was the writer’s own work, and it was not only a source of friction between the two men but of debate among film critics to this day. Mankiewicz got the success but his alcoholism and gambling debts took over his career and he became penniless, died of uremic poisoning in 1953.

All these elements in the life of Mank attracted Fincher, who always ready to do experiment to recreate the original aspects of 30’s recipe. For Fincher, this feature represents an opportunity to produce a fundamentally different film from his earlier works in a genre he has yet to explore; at the same time, the life of Herman J Mankiewicz retains the streak of darkness that has always appealed to Fincher’s sensibilities. 

Mank is a script that I’ve been working to get exactly right for ten years”, and I hope, some day, to make it as one of the definitive ‘writer in Hollywood’ stories.

David Fincher

Gary Oldman as Mank:

No wonder that Gary Oldman was chosen to play Mankiewicz, who was an academy award winner, known for his amazing roles in films like Darkest Hour, Harry Potter and many more. Gary Oldman not usually intimidated by his roles and when he was asked for the role of Mank, Gary was excited. But when he learnt that movie being shot in black and white recreating 30’s, Gary Oldman became nervous and assumed that there would be some hair and makeup to change his appearance, but Fincher said, “No.” He wanted Oldman to look natural. 

Mank

“I thought, ‘Oh, fucking hell!’,” Oldman told Empire. “I can’t remember the last time I did that. I’ve always got something! I was thinking, ‘I don’t know about that.’ I don’t look anything like Mank.”

There’s a similarity with [Tom Burke as] Welles and Amanda Seyfried kind of looks like Marion Davies, and you’ve got this pale make-up on Charles Dance, so he resembles [William Randolph] Hearst. But I didn’t have anything I could anchor to. Then, once we started, I thought, ‘Yeah, Dave was right.’ No tricks. No nothing. Just: here it is. I’ve embraced it.

Gary Oldman

Finally Gary Oldman, was in the shoes of Mank without any makeup as per the director’s standpoint.

Aaron Sorkin’s Spoiler:

Aaron Sorkin who collaborated earlier with Fincher for The Social Network who is getting ready with its sequel again with Fincher already saw the rushes of Mank and talked about it in his recent conversation with MTV’s “Happy Sad Confused” podcast to promote his film The Trial of the Chicago 7.

It’s so freaking good…Written by [Fincher’s] dad, who is a brilliant screenwriter. But David has directed this movie just magnificently. It’s breathtaking even by David Fincher standards. Gary Oldman gives an amazing performance, so does Lily Collins, and so does Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies.

Aaron Sorkin

Mank will be released on Netflix globally on December 4, after a limited theatrical run in November.

Leave a comment