First a little bit of back story: Mank was adapted from a script written by Fincher’s father, Jack, who took it on as a project set by his son (who was making his early incursions into Hollywood at the time) to liven up his retirement years. This was back in the early ’90s, and once it was ready, Fincher Jr hit something of a brick wall when it came to convincing studios to fund this black and white rendering of a vital moment in old Hollywood lore.
The title refers to the nickname given to ace scribe, wit and raconteur, Herman J Mankiewicz, and how after years of coasting on his genius, he finally alienates enough professional cohorts to write something big, meaningful and dangerous. The 200 page script he ended up with was named American, but it ended up being released into cinemas (albeit not very many cinemas) under the name Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Wells. Mank is the story of how that script came into being, but is also a hard-nosed exploration into the malevolent nature of creativity, and the cruel aspect of parlaying real lives into a fictional context.
Inside the issue
A review of David Fincher’s Mank
Hannah Woodhead verbally spars with this sumptuous evocation of classic-era Hollywood.
It’s All True: A Conversation with David Fincher
David Jenkins talks to the master filmmaker about realising a passion project after a 30-year wait.
Caitlin Quinlan profiles one of our favourite actors working today, Tuppence Middleton.
F For Fake
On the magic tricks behind selecting costumes to show up on black-and-white film.
Adam Woodward scours the credits of Citizen Kane for the lost masters of cinema.
Touch of Evil
Charles Bramesco revisits the little-known 1973 TV movie filmed on the MGM lot as it was being bulldozed.
Too Much Johnson
A complete timeline of how we came to collectively worship certain movies in the West, by Lillian Crawford.
The Other Side of the Wind
Matt Thrift celebrates the preservation and curation work done by the UK’s boutique Blu-ray labels.
Threads: The Majorette costume
Christina Newland picks apart the screen iconography of cheerleader garb in all its guises
Illustration in this issue by Rumbidzai Marilyn Savanhu, Calum Heath, Stephanie Sergeant, Jill De Haan, Francesca Pusceddu