Premise: David Fincher directed this biographical drama about the screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz. The black-and-white film follows Mankiewicz (or “Mank”) as he develops a personal relationship with media tycoon William Randolph Hearst and subsequently writes the screenplay for “Citizen Kane,” which was inspired by the towering figure.
“Mank” is loosely based on film critic Pauline Kael’s 1971 New Yorker article “Raising Kane,” which argued that Mankiewicz had a much bigger role in creating the now iconic movie than wunderkind director Orson Welles. That claim has been widely discredited, and the movie ultimately doesn’t undermine Welles’ role too much. But Fincher’s film still argues that Mankiewicz deserves more credit than history has afforded him so far.
Fincher’s father, Jack Fincher, wrote the initial screenplay. Jack died in 2003.
Setting: 1930s and early 1940s Hollywood
Netflix descriptor: “Cerebral”
How it starts: White text appears sequentially on a black title card.
In 1940, at the tender age of 24, Orson Welles was lured to Hollywood by a struggling RKO Pictures with a contract befitting his formidable storytelling talents.
He was given absolute creative autonomy, would suffer no oversight, and could make any movie, about any subject,
with any collaborator he wished …
The movie then opens with a grandiose title sequence reminiscent of older films, with the text appearing in big letters over a cloudy sky.
Notable cast: Lily Collins, Gary Oldman and Amanda Seyfried
Runtime: 1 hour, 54 minutes
Bonus: David Fincher went on CBS’ “Sunday Morning” to talk about the movie and how his father wrote the screenplay.