Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics

Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics

by Sydney Ladensohn Stern
Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics

Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics

by Sydney Ladensohn Stern


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Winner of the 2020 Peter C. Rollins Book Award
Longlisted for the 2020 Moving Image Book Award by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation
Named a 2019 Richard Wall Memorial Award Finalist by the Theatre Library Association

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 habitué, 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 Joe never fully recovered.

For this award-winning 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781496840851
Publisher: University Press of Mississippi
Publication date: 02/21/2022
Series: Hollywood Legends Series
Pages: 480
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.07(d)

About the Author

Sydney Ladensohn Stern, a New York-based freelance writer, has contributed to the New York Times, Air Mail, Literary Hub, Publishers Weekly, Criterion's The Current, 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. For more information, go to

Table of Contents


1 The End: Joe, 1993 3

2 The Beginning: Herman, 1926 5

3 The Real Beginning: Pop, 1891 7


4 Herman's Life Begins 17

5 Glorious Adventures 28

6 Central Park West Voltaire 37

The Makiewicz Brothers of Hollywood

7 In Pursuit of a Lump Sum 57

8 Gold Safe, However 80

9 Mad Dogs 97

10 The Tiffany of Studios 110

11 Joe's Black Years 128

12 Citizen Kane 157

13 Apprentice Director 189

14 Promised Land 201

15 All About Eve 216

16 Breaking Away 230

17 Exit Herman 249


18 Hollywood Cinderella: A Cautionary Fairy Tale 271

19 New York Crooks and Showgirls: An American Fairy Tale 282

20 Joe Rewrites Graham Greene 289

21 Exit Rosa 300

22 Southern Gothic Horror Story 309

23 The Toughest Three Pictures I Ever Made 316

24 The Honey Pot(boiler) 344

25 Ironic Western 353

26 Of Page and Screen 362

27 Honors but No Dough 375


28 What They Wrought 387

Appendix: Family Tree 393

Notes 395

Filmography 431

Select Bibliography 439

Acknowledgments 443

Photo Credits 447

Index 449

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