Everybody has different tastes, so picking a consensus greatest film of all time is a nearly impossible task. Speak to longtime film enthusiasts and critics though, and there’s one title that almost always shows up in the conversation for that vaunted top spot: Citizen Kane. Orson Welles’ 1941 drama is about as praised as they come, actually being selected as the greatest film of all time several times by both the British and American Film Institutes. But the story behind the making of Citizen Kane is every bit as intriguing as the mystery behind a sled with the name “Rosebud” etched on it, and now Netflix and acclaimed filmmaker David Fincher is telling that story in Mank.
Out of the nine Oscars that Citizen Kane was nominated for on release, it only won one: The Best Original Screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Welles. Exactly who wrote how much and deserves the credit for that screenplay was a longtime matter of contention between the two men though. Welles and “Mank” reportedly conceived the idea together of a quasi-biographical drama based on a composite of several real-life media barons and tycoons including William Randolph Hearst, whom Mankiewicz knew personally and detested for excluding him from Hearst’s social circles.
The hard-drinking “Mank” stayed at the no-alcohol-allowed Kemper Campbell Ranch in California for two months to focus on penning the first draft of the screenplay. He turned in a 300-page script, titled “American”, which he and Welles then edited down to a more manageable 156 pages. And it’s here where things get murky on how much credit should go to whom, with one claim being that Welles had an extra 300 pages of additional notes.
This and other aspects of the making of Citizen Kane, as well as Hollywood society at the time, will reportedly be the gist of the story for Mank which was written by Fincher’s father Jack Fincher. Netflix’s blurb reads “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.”
Bringing Mankiewicz himself to life will be Gary Oldman with Fincher surrounding the Oscar-winning actor with quite the cast. There’s Tom Burke as Welles, Amanda Seyfried as actress/producer Marion Davies, Lily Collins as actress Rita Alexander, Arliss Howard as MGM co-founder Louis B. Mayer, Sam Troughton as actor John Houseman, Ferdinand Kingsley as producer Irving Thalberg, Tom Pelphrey as Mankiewicz’s director brother Joseph, Tuppence Middleton as Mankiewicz’s wife Sara, and Charles Dance as William Randolph Hearst, among others.
And we can now see what some of them look like with the first pics for Mank which Fincher shot entirely in black-and-white. This is the celebrated director’s first feature film since 2014’s Gone Girl. He will be reuniting with composers Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross – who he’s worked with on The Social Network, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and Gone Girl – for the film’s score. There’s currently no release date set yet, but it’s expected to still hit Netflix later this year.
Last Updated: September 6, 2020