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Little White Lies #87: Mank
With that out the way, please extend a big, hearty welcome to our new issue, which is inspired by David Fincher’s Mank. First a little bit of back story: the film was adapted from a script written by Fincher’s father, Jack, who took it on as a project set by his son (who was making his early incursions into Hollywood at the time) to liven up his retirement years. This was back in the early ’90s, and once it was ready, Fincher Jr hit something of a brick wall when it came to convincing studios to fund this black and white rendering of a vital moment in old Hollywood lore.
The title refers to the nickname given to ace scribe, wit and raconteur, Herman J Mankiewicz, and how after years of coasting on his genius, he finally alienates enough professional cohorts to write something big, meaningful and dangerous. The 200 page script he ended up with was named American, but it ended up being released into cinemas (albeit not very many cinemas) under the name Citizen Kane, directed by Orson Wells. Mank is the story of how that script came into being, but is also a hard-nosed exploration into the malevolent nature of creativity, and the cruel aspect of parlaying real lives into a fictional context.
On the cover
We worked with the Brooklyn-based illustrator Katherine Lam on a series of portraits inspired by cinema’s arch outsiders for our Shape of Water issue, and so she was our first choice to attack a cover about another fringe Hollywood figure being placed in the limelight. Her stunning portrait of Gary Oldman as Mank is obscured by reels of the film he had an important (but largely spectral) hand in bringing to life.