First Look at TCM's 'A Mankiewicz Family Weekend' 3-Night Movie Event
The Mankiewicz family is one of Hollywood's most distinguished and accomplished. It includes TCM's own Ben Mankiewicz as well as the Oscar-winning screenwriter/producer/director Joseph L. Mankiewicz (1909-1993) and screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz (1897-1953, brother of Joseph, grandfather of Ben). Both brothers had children and grandchildren who continued the tradition of excellence in filmmaking or the fields of journalism, politics, fiction writing, acting and art.
TCM will air a three-night celebration of the Mankiewicz family's Hollywood legacy starting Friday, March 27, with Ben hosting alongside Alex Mankiewicz, the daughter of Joseph, and Sydney Ladensohn Stern, author of the 2019 book The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics.
A Mankiewicz Family Weekend’s first night is devoted to the early work by the two pioneering brothers during the 1930s. Here’s a rundown of the movies to air over the three night celebration:
Friday, March 27 at 8/7c - Million Dollar Legs (1932), on which Herman served as producer (although uncredited). W.C. Fields and Jack Oakie star in this pre-Code comedy about a small country on the verge of bankruptcy that enters the 1932 Los Angeles Summer Olympics. Critic Pauline Kael named this film as one of her favorites, describing it as "a lunatic musical satire."
Friday at 9:15/8:15c - Dinner at Eight (1933), the celebrated MGM comedy produced by David O. Selznick from the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, had a screenplay by Herman J. Mankiewicz and Frances Marion, with additional dialogue by Donald Ogden Stewart. The all-star ensemble--headed by Marie Dressler, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery and Jean Harlow--was directed by George Cukor. The film was a commercial hit and a critical success with Variety calling it a "fascinating mosaic."
Friday at 11:15/10:15c - Manhattan Melodrama (1934) is a MGM crime drama with a screenplay credited to Joseph and Oliver H.P. Garrett. The film stars Clark Gable and, in the first of their screen pairings, William Powell and Myrna Loy. David O. Selznick produced and W.S. Van Dyke directed. The movie was a surprise hit at the box office and gained notoriety as the one watched by John Dillinger right before he was shot to death by federal agents.
Saturday, March 28 is devoted to two Joseph L. Mankiewicz films of the late 1940s and early '50s, a period of enormous success for him at 20th Century-Fox. He won Oscars for both his screenplay and direction of the following two movies.
Saturday at 8/7c - A Letter to Three Wives (1949), a romantic drama starring Jeanne Crain, Linda Darnell and Ann Sothern; the film earned another nomination as Best Picture. (Joseph would repeat the same feat the following year with a double nomination for 1950's All About Eve; in this case the movie was also named Best Picture.)
Saturday at 10/9c - People Will Talk (1951) is a comedy/drama with screenplay and direction by Joseph, starring Cary Grant and Jeanne Crain. No Oscar nominations this time, although Joseph was nominated for the Best Written American Comedy award by the Writers Guild of America. According to The New York Times, his script (derived from a German play called Dr. Praetorious) is "as sharp as a scalpel."
On Sunday, March 29, TCM turns our attention to Herman J. Mankiewicz and two of his triumphs from the early 1940s.
Sunday at 8/7c - Citizen Kane (1941), considered by many to be the greatest American film ever made, brought Oscars to Herman and director/writer/star Orson Welles for their screenplay. It was the only win out of a total of nine Oscar nominations including Best Picture.
Sunday at 10:15/9:15c - The Pride of the Yankees (1942), a movie about baseball player Lou Gehrig as played by Gary Cooper. That film earned a total of 11 nominations, including those for Best Picture and Actor, but only won in the category of Film Editing.