Netflix film ‘Mank’ dives into ‘Citizen Kane’ screenwriter controversy

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The new movie “Mank,” which starts streaming on Netflix on Friday, takes audiences back to Hollywood’s golden era of the 1930s with a look at the making of one of the film industry’s most-celebrated gems.

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FILE PHOTO: Director Fincher arrives at the AFI Awards in Beverly Hills

Shot in black and white, “Mank” focuses on writer Herman J. Mankiewicz as he works on 1941 cinema classic “Citizen Kane,” considered by many the greatest movie of all time. Mankiewicz and director Orson Welles battled over who would be credited for the screenplay.

“Mank” was directed by David Fincher and based on a screenplay penned by his father, Jack, who died in 2003. Fincher said he wanted the movie to bring to life the process of filmmaking and the colorful personalities behind it.

“This was a really wonderful sandbox,” Fincher said at a recent online screening of “Mank.”

“You had a great character at the center of it who can expound very delightfully on everything that he encounters. And he was a great avatar to take a look at Hollywood in its heyday.”

“Mank” has charmed many film critics, earning an 89% positive rating on the Rotten Tomatoes website, which aggregates movie reviews.

Gary Oldman, who plays Mank, said he performed without prosthetics or props that have helped him in other roles.

“I’m glad we went that route because there’s no tricks, there’s no fireworks, there’s no wigs, there’s no false noses, there’s no prosthetics, there’s no padding,” Oldman said. “It’s just raw and there it is.”

The filmmakers recreated 1930s film sets and studio lots, replicating the fashion as well as the lighting and editing styles used at the time.

Amanda Seyfried, who plays actress Marion Davies, said the “Mank” sets were “surreal.”

“I was enveloped in this era, this golden age of Hollywood on the lot,” she told Reuters via Zoom.

(Reporting by Rollo Ross and Jill Serjeant; Writing by Lisa Richwine; Editing by Tom Brown)

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