‘Mank’ (Netflix): David Fincher doesn’t think ‘Citizen Kane’ is the best movie of all time

Paula Carol
Paula Carol

Starting today, Friday, December 4, Mank, the latest work behind the cameras of David Fincher, director of films such as Seven (1995), Zodiac (2007) or La red social (2010), is available on Netflix. The film delves into one of the most famous controversies in film history, which actually wrote the script for Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane (1941), and stars Oscar winner Gary Oldman as Herman Mankiewicz, co-author of the libretto. The cast, among others, include names such as Amanda Seyfried, Lily Collins, Tom Pelphrey, Tuppence Middleton, Tom Burke or Charles Dance. Golden Age Hollywood, brilliant dialogue, criticism of mogul William Randolph Hearst … But did you know that Fincher doesn’t consider Citizen Kane the best movie of all time?

Mank’s screenplay is signed by Jack Fincher, David Fincher’s late father and also a journalist and freelance author. When David was just a teenager, he heard his father talk about a certain feature film. “We were talking about a film from so long ago that I remember I was afraid to see it because I did not want it to disappoint me,” recalls the filmmaker in the film’s official production notes. She finally got to see him in a high school film appreciation class, and despite her fears, she was surprised. Although, unlike many and reflecting on it now, I would not describe it as the best in history – it is among your favorite films, along with others such as Rear Window (1954), Jaws (1975), Sky Days (1978), Welcome Mr. Chance (1979) or Alien, the eighth passenger (1979). “But it cannot be denied that this film is really the first in which complex literary ideas appear about how to see a life, human behavior, human need, arrogance, told in a very literary, sophisticated and cinematographic way,” he says the also director of Perdida (2014).


How did your interest in Citizen Kane germinate? It turns out that a couple of years later he read Raising Kane, the controversial essay by film critic Pauline Kael, published in two consecutive issues of The New Yorker magazine in February 1971. He argued that the script was exclusively by Mankiewicz and that he was authored It was not to be shared with Welles, a claim that was later challenged. Jack Fincher retired and David brought up the case about Mank and Welles by Citizen Kane as the subject for a script. In 1992, David made his feature debut with Alien³ and the experience, which was not exactly good, gave him a new perspective on the writer-director relationship. Although Mank, at heart, is not only focused on recognition.

As you can see if you watch the movie, Mank takes place in two well differentiated timelines. In 1940, with Mankiewicz writing his first draft in a bungalow in the Mojave Desert, and then in the 1930s, in the Golden Age of Hollywood, where Irving Thalberg (Ferdinand Kingsley) and LB Mayer (Arliss Howard), Hearst (Dance) which serve as a model for Charles Foster Kane in Citizen Kane – and his mistress, actress Marion Davies (Seyfried).

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Father and son decided to seek funding in the late 90s. But no one dared to shoot the title in black and white. Even after Jack’s death in 2003, the idea never left David’s head. More than two decades later, after the success of the MINDHUNTER series, Netflix asked him what he wanted to do. Your answer? Mank. Above we leave you its official trailer and here below our interviews with Amanda Seyfried (Marion Davies), Lily Collins (Rita Alexander) and Tom Pelphrey (Joseph Mankiewicz). If you prefer, you can see the best biographical films on Netflix in our streaming section.

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