The Brothers Mankiewicz

Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics
Narrated by: Jonathan Davis
Length: 15 hrs and 39 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (3 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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 55. 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 first 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.

©2019 Sydney Ladensohn Stern (P)2020 Random House Audio

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Great book

Really well-written, tons of interesting pieces, covers a crazy amount of material. Both are ultimately enigmas when it's all over.

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Golden age Hollywood comes alive.

Herman and Joe were at the center of 20th Century culture: From the 20’s in New York to Hollywood silents to talkies to epics. On the way they met and befriended everyone from Hearst & Welles to Dick & Liz. The only clinkers in the audio are the mangling of some names: Wanger should rhyme with ranger, etc. Menjou should sound like “mon jeu”. I cringed with Davis’ stabs at French & German words.