TV & Movies

Mank Is A Love Letter To David Fincher's Father

The Netflix film follows the making of Citizen Kane.

by Jessica Lachenal

After masterminding Netflix's critically-acclaimed Mindhunter, David Fincher is making a return to feature-length directing with a period piece set in 1930s Hollywood. Mank is based on Herman J. Mankiewicz, noted old Hollywood script doctor and Orson Welles' co-writer on Citizen Kane (1941). But the director's personal connection to Mank is even more fascinating than the film itself, as it's based on a script originally written by his father, Jack.

Central to Mank is, of course, Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman), and it follows him all the way through production on Citizen Kane. Of particular note is Mankiewicz's eventual dispute over credit with co-writer Welles (Tom Burke), who, according to Variety, initially disputed Mankiewicz's credit on the film.

However, the dispute didn't last all that long, and Mankiewicz eventually received proper credit for his contribution, as would Welles' many other collaborators. Still, it's a notable dispute not only because the movie quite literally broke the mold for films in its time (and thus having your name on it brought about prestige), but the arbitration afterwards became the originator for how accreditation and attribution is handled in the film industry to this day, per Variety.

Jack Fincher, a former journalist and essayist, first devised the story and had shopped an early version of the script around back in 1990, when it was actually originally set to be produced by Polygram, according to Variety. But, as David explained, it never saw production. "Polygram got cold feet because of all kinds of truly stupid boilerplate stuff involving output deals in Central America," David told the outlet. "We would have had to have shot the film in color and then corrected it and do a black-and-white version. It completely fell apart."

It wasn't until November 2019 that Mank finally began production, this time under Netflix's banner, according to And now, after being revised by David, Mank is is finally seeing the light of day — making it a film with nearly as many collaborators as Citizen Kane itself.