Joseph Mankiewicz

11.02.1909, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA - 05.02.1993, Bedford, New York, USA

 

Director
Mankiewicz was an American screenwriter, producer and director. He began his career in the film industry as a translator of subtitles in Berlin in 1928. The following year, thanks to his brother (Herman J. Mankiewicz, a screenwriter who in 1942 won an Oscar along with Orson Welles for work on Citizen Kane) he got a job in the Paramount film studio. At first he only worked on dialogues, and then from 1929 to 1935 wrote screenplays. Afterwards he became involved in production work. From the mid 1930s to mid 1940s he produced about twenty films, at first for MGM MGM (The Philadelphia Story, 1940, Woman of the Year, 1942), and afterwards for 20th Century-Fox (The Keys of the Kingdom, 1944). He made his directing debut in 1946 with Dragonwyck (1946), after which he abandoned production (although he co-produced his three later films) and devoted himself entirely to directing. During his directing career he made many different genre films such as the satire The Late George Apley (1947), romantic fantasy The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947), melodrama House of Strangers (1949), drama dealing with racism No Way Out (1950), comedy People Will Talk (1951), spy film 5 Fingers (1952), popular film adaptation of Shakespeare’s tragedy Julius Caesar (1953), musical Guys and Dolls (1955), mystery The Honey Pot (1967), western There Was a Crooked Man (1970) and his last film thriller Sleuth (1972). His most successful films among critics are A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All about Eve (1950) for which he won, two years in a row, Oscars for Best Director and Best Screenwriter. He took over direction of the historical spectacle Cleopatra (1963) after director Rouben Mamoulian had already quit and the project surpassed its planned budget. Because the screenplay was left half finished, Mankiewicz had to write during the nights and direct during the days. He imagined the film as a combination of three dramas (Bernard Shaw’s Cesar And Cleopatra and William Shakespeare’s Julius Cesar and Antony And Cleopatra) resulting in a film lasting seven and a half hours. However, in post-production the studio drastically cut his film to a mere three hours. In 1987, he won the Golden Lion for life-time achievement in Venice.

Filmography

Filmograsphy as a director:
Sleuth (1972)
There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)
The Honey Pot (1967)
Carol for Another Christmas (1964) (TV)
Cleopatra (1963)
Suddenly, Last Summer (1959)
The Quiet American (1958)
Guys and Dolls (1955/I)
The Barefoot Contessa (1954)
Julius Caesar (1953)
5 Fingers (1952)
People Will Talk (1951)
All About Eve (1950)
No Way Out (1950)
House of Strangers (1949)
A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
Escape (1948)
The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)
The Late George Apley (1947)
Somewhere in the Night (1946)
Backfire (1946)
Dragonwyck (1946)


Films by this director

All about Eve

(USA, 1950)

Directed by: Joseph Mankiewicz
PHOTOGRAPHY: Milton R. Krasner
Synopsis:

Mankijewicz’s classic is a portrait of the theater world and the pure ambition that drives it. Margo Channing is an esteemed but already old actress whose career is at an end. Eve Harrington, a young woman who introduces herself as Margo’s great and loyal fan, becomes her secretary. But soon Eve shows her true face…

b/w, 138'

5 fingers

(1952)

Directed by: Joseph Mankiewicz
PHOTOGRAPHY: Norbert Brodine
Synopsis:

This spy film is based on a true story about a man who lived during WW II. In 1944, Ulysses Diello is the personal butler of the English ambassador to Turkey. He is capable and well esteemed by his master, which puts him in a perfect position to illegally cash in on his job. Wanting more from life than to be a servant, Ulysses starts to sell secret documents to the Germans.

35 mm, b/w, 108 min

Cleopatra

(1963)

Directed by: Joseph Mankiewicz
PHOTOGRAPHY: Leon Shamroy
Synopsis:

This is a historical spectacle about the life of the Egyptian empress Cleopatra from the time when Cesar arrived in Egypt until her death eighteen years later. Cleopatra, whose brother is in power, wins Cesar’s attention to such an extent that he makes her the empress of Egypt. She then bears him a son. Before he manages to name the child heir of the Roma Empire, Cesar dies violently. Soon, Marc Antony arrives in Egypt…

35 mm, color, 192 min
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