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The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics

Sydney Ladensohn Stern

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University Press of Mississippi
01 November 2019
Film, TV & Radio; Individual actors & performers; Individual film directors, film-makers; Film movie production: technical skills; Popular culture
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.
By:   Sydney Ladensohn Stern
Imprint:   University Press of Mississippi
Country of Publication:   United States
Dimensions:   Height: 229mm,  Width: 152mm, 
ISBN:   9781617032677
ISBN 10:   1617032670
Series:   Hollywood Legends Series
Pages:   464
Publication Date:   01 November 2019
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

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.

Reviews for The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics

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


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