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The Brothers Mankiewicz

by Sydney Ladensohn Stern

Part of the Hollywood Legends Series Series

The Brothers Mankiewicz Synopsis

Herman J. (1897-1953) and Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993) wrote, produced, and directed over 150 pictures. With Orson Welles, Herman wrote the screenplay for Citizen Kane and shared the picture's only Academy Award. Joe earned the second pair of his four Oscars for writing and directing All About Eve, which also won Best Picture. Despite triumphs as diverse as Monkey Business and Cleopatra, and Pride of the Yankees and Guys and Dolls, the witty, intellectual brothers spent their Hollywood years deeply discontented and yearning for what they did not have-a career in New York theater. Herman, formerly an Algonquin Round Table habitue, New York Times and New Yorker theater critic, and playwright-collaborator with George S. Kaufman, never reconciled himself to screenwriting. He gambled away his prodigious earnings, was fired from all the major studios, and drank himself to death at fifty-five. While Herman drifted downward, Joe rose to become a critical and financial success as a writer, producer, and director, though his constant philandering with prominent stars like Joan Crawford, Judy Garland, and Gene Tierney distressed his emotionally fragile wife who eventually committed suicide. He wrecked his own health using uppers and downers in order to direct Cleopatra by day and finish writing it at night, only to be very publicly fired by Darryl F. Zanuck, an experience from which he never fully recovered. For this first dual portrait of the Mankiewicz brothers, Sydney Ladensohn Stern draws on interviews, letters, diaries, and other documents still in private hands to provide a uniquely intimate behind-the-scenes chronicle of the lives, loves, work, and relationship between these complex men.

The Brothers Mankiewicz Press Reviews

It's a novel introduction for those who are unfamiliar with either of them, but for those already well-versed with their respective output, the text serves as an impetus to drive one back to watching items from both of their filmographies.--Nicholas Bell IONCINEMA.com This is one of the best of the recent biographies of screenwriters. . . . A particular strength of the book is that it is exactly a dual biography, which means Stern can and does bounce the two brothers off each other. Their relationship was complex, to say the least, something that Stern gets better than the earlier writers.--Tom Stempel Script Given the overlapping arcs of their careers, a dual biography of the two men makes perfect sense, and Sydney Ladensohn Stern, author of The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics, proves far more than equal to the formidable technical challenges of writing it. She succeeds in keeping the narrative strands of their lives sufficiently separate to make for easy reading while simultaneously illuminating the instructive similarities in their personalities, both of which come through with lively clarity. Above all, she tells their tightly entwined stories thoughtfully and well, with a sympathetic but honest appreciation of their talents--and limitations.--Terry Teachout Commentary Beautifully researched and deftly structured . . . This model biography tells a story of two gifted brothers, only one of whom exceeded expectations. But underneath the surface wit and brio, The Brothers Mankiewicz is a harrowing tale of subtly lethal sibling rivalry that ultimately strangled them both.--Scott Eyman The Wall Street Journal

Book Information

ISBN: 9781617032677
Publication date: 30th November 2019
Author: Sydney Ladensohn Stern
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Format: Hardback
Pagination: 464 pages
Categories: Individual actors & performers, Individual film directors, film-makers, Film production: technical & background skills, Popular culture,

About Sydney Ladensohn Stern

Sydney Ladensohn Stern, a New York-based freelance writer, has contributed to the New York Times and many other publications. She is author of Toyland: The High-Stakes Game of the Toy Industry, a Book of the Month Club pick, and Gloria Steinem: Her Passions, Politics, and Mystique.

More About Sydney Ladensohn Stern

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