Mank Parent Guide
This is an intriguing look behind the curtain of one of the most influential films ever made.
Parent Movie Review
Herman J. Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), better known to his contemporaries as “Mank”, is every bad stereotype of a Golden Age Hollywood screenwriter – an outrageous flirt, a dissolute drunk, and an absolute madman with a pen. His latest project, an ambitious epic he’s working on with the young radio sensation Orson Welles (Tom Burke), is set to put him at odds with one of the most powerful men in America - newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance). But Mank’s conflict with Hearst didn’t begin with the script for Citizen Kane: the roots of that problem stretch back to the early 1930s…
Mank is a man who had more chances than he earned and as many breaks as he could buy – in between bouts of near-lethal drinking and gambling to the point of bankruptcy. His story is every bit as dramatic as that of Charles Foster Kane, or indeed, William Randolph Hearst, but not nearly as luxurious. Mank has all of Kane’s charisma and personal magnetism, but almost none of his subtlety. It’s precisely that inability to moderate his own personality that leads to his personal tragedies.
If you’re concerned about the “R” rating, you can be assured that this is relatively mild as Restricted films go. There are five sexual expletives, three of which occur in the same scene near the end of the film. Maybe the largest concern is the frequent drinking and smoking – both of which were common at the time, especially for a man portrayed as an alcoholic. Mank’s drinking has serious consequences, both personally and professionally. Beyond that, the only problem I can think of are a handful of risqué jokes, none of which are particularly explicit. If you happen to find a teenager with a passion for classic filmmaking (and if you do, be sure to tag and collar them before releasing them back into the wild), this isn’t a wildly unsuitable choice.
Citizen Kane is a classic for many reasons, but Herman J. Mankiewicz’s script is arguably the most influential. David Fincher has taken a story about that script and used his not insignificant directorial talent to pay homage to the brilliant filmmaking of Orson Welles. This is an intriguing look behind the curtain on a film which will long outlast any of the people involved. Of course, Mank will never be able to compete with the original article, but I don’t believe that that is Fincher’s intention. I suspect this is more an act of homage than one of self-aggrandizement. Although if Fincher starts building a stately pleasure dome, I may have to revise my opinion.Directed by David Fincher. Starring Gary Oldman, Amanda Seyfried, and Lily Collins. Running time: 131 minutes. Theatrical release December 4, 2020. Updated February 26, 2021
Watch the trailer for Mank
Rating & Content Info
Why is Mank rated R? Mank is rated R by the MPAA for some language
Violence: An individual commits suicide with a gun offscreen.
Sexual Content: There are a number of sexual jokes and references to genitalia. A woman is briefly seen in tasseled pasties.
Profanity: There are five uses of the sexual expletive, four scatalogical curses, and occasional mild profanities and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: Individuals are frequently seen drinking and smoking, typically to excess.
Page last updated February 26, 2021
Mank Parents' Guide
What do you think is the driving motivation for Herman J. Mankiewicz? Do you think he is cognizant of the effect his decisions have on those around him? How do his actions support or contradict your opinion? What was the source of his conflict with Welles? How was it resolved? Do you think Mank’s lifestyle helped his writing, or was he just a talented writer with addiction problems? What is his relationship with his wife, Sarah like?
Who was Upton Sinclair (played by Bill Nye, former Science Guy)? Why were the studio executives at MGM so threatened by his political aspirations? What was his plan for California? Sinclair was also an author – what were his books about? What influence did they have on American politics?
The most recent home video release of Mank movie is December 4, 2020. Here are some details…
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Of course, the best place to start is with Orson Welles’ 1941 epic Citizen Kane. Other classic Hollywood productions mentioned in this film are King Kong, The Wizard of Oz, and Marie Antoinette. Another film about making films is The Disaster Artist, which explores the tumultuous process involved in creating cult-classic and terrible film The Room.