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It remains one of the greatest films ever produced. Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane, a movie about media mogul William Randolph Hurst that introduced the film industry to a revolutionary new storyteller and redefined how movies were shot for decades. You wouldn’t trust the story behind Citizen Kane to just any old director, which is why it brings me immense pleasure to report that genius David Fincher and Gary Freaking Oldman are teaming up for Mank, a movie about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his battles against Welles over Citizen Kane credits. Studio intrigue from Hollywood’s Golden Age? Sign us up!
First off, David Fincher doesn’t direct nearly enough films. In an ideal world, the skilled visual storyteller would be delivering a new movie every other year. Instead, it’s been six years since his adaptation of Gone Girl hit theaters, and while the moody television series Mindhunters held us over on Netflix, I am more than ready to sit down to a sumptuous Fincher mean, and Mank looks like it’s about to deliver.
Hollywood loves movies about movies. Mank, as mentioned, looks like it’s going to get into Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles’s brash decision to make a movie about William Randolph Hurst, a dominant media mogul at the time. But Mank also plans to dig deep onto a controversial Film Community debate over how much credit the young Orson Welles deserved for the Citizen Kane screenplay. Legendary film critic Pauline Kael stirred the pot back in the 1970s claiming that Welles contributed very little to the script, though that theory has been heavily discussed by many over the years. Expect Mank to tug at the curtain hanging over to debate.
More than anything, though, on the surface, Mank has me most excited with seeing David Fincher collaborating with Gary Oldman on the story of an influential film like Citizen Kane. The Old Hollywood aesthetic is gravy on top of what I expect to be an outstanding screenplay (one that is credited to Fincher’s late father, Jack Fincher). Fincher’s usual collaborators are back in the fold – including Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, doing a score using only period-accurate instruments.
But the cast also looks like they were lifted off a page from Hollywood’s history books. Mank will co-star Charles Dance (Game of Thrones) as mogul William Randolph Hurst, Lily Collins as Rita Alexander, Amanda Seyfried as Marion Davies, Arliss Howard as Louis B. Mayer, and Tom Burke as Orson Welles. If played right, we expect this to be a major awards player for Netflix, so let’s hope the streaming service plays its cards right and starts to get Mank in front of the right eyeballs. Meaning mine. I need to see this, immediately.