FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Joseph L. Mankiewicz |||
Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Mankiewicz directed 20 films in a 26-year period, and was very successful at every kind of film, from Shakespeare to western, drama to musical, epics to two-character pictures, and regardless of the genre, he was known as a witty dialogist, a master in the use of flashback and a talented actors' director.

The 1950 Oscar for Best Picture and Screenplay brought Mankiewicz wide recognition as a writer and a director, with his sardonic look at show business glamour and the empty lives behind it. This well orchestrated cast of brilliant and catty character actors is built around veteran actress Bette Davis and Anne Baxter as her understudy desperate for stardom.

One of Mankiewicz’ more intimate films, this highly regarded and major artistic achievement is a spirited romantic comedy set in England of the 1880’s about a widow who moves into a haunted seashore house and resists the attempts of a sea captain specter to scare her away. This is a pleasing and poignant romance that is equally satisfying as a good old ghost story.

Mankiewicz wrote and directed this witty dissection of matrimony that has three women review the ups and downs of their marriages (with all its romance, fears and foibles) after receiving a letter telling them that one of their husbands has been unfaithful. Once again Mankiewicz deftly utilizes the skills of a well-chosen ensemble, which includes a young Kirk Douglas at his dreamiest.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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TCM Classic Film Festival Day 3: Good Old Classics

By CarrieSpecht

April 27th, 2010

I started the day off at Grauman's Chinese Theatre and a new print of John Huston's "The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.” Both Angelica and Danny Huston were there to talk about the film, their father, and even their grandfather Walter, who received an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this film. Even better than that... Robert Osborne moderated the discussion.

TCM Classic Film Festival Day 3: Good Old Classics

The print itself was simply gorgeous, luscious even. It was so nice to see a film in Black and White with such clarity and detail I actually found myself discovering new details previously missed on a TV screen with an over worked print. If “Treasure” shows again anywhere, I encourage you to go see it. It’s worth it. Later I stopped in at the Roosevelt to catch a piece of the panel, “The Greatest Movies Ever Sold”. However I didn’t stay long. Although it was full of some very informative and experienced people it reminded me too much of my film school days. And I decided my time was better spent watching Harold Lloyd’s “Safety Last” with a live orchestra at the Egyptian, introduced by Leonard Maltin and Lloyd’s granddaughter.

Not only was it great to see a silent film presented the way it was originally intended, but I also had a great conversation with some enthusiastic film students from USC and Santa Monica’s Art Institute in line on the way in. At my seat I was flanked by a local couple that had come into Hollywood just for that screening, and on my right was a lady from Pennsylvania (my dad’s home state!) spending her vacation days with TCM. It’s true what they say; Lloyd really was just as good as Chaplin and Keaton, and a victim of his own refusal to allow his films to be shown on TV until the early 70’s. As his granddaughter said, “He didn’t like commercials and that was many years before TCM. Thank goodness we now have TCM”.

The last show of the day for me was the presentation of Banned Cartoons hosted by Donald Bogle. Bogle is an engaging speaker who is the authority on African American images in film (he co-hosted TCM’s special focus on the topic a while back). I have to say it was an enlightening evening to see what depictions were considered acceptable by the entertainment world in another day and age. If TCM ever re-airs “Race & Hollywood: Black Images on Film” you should try and catch it. Or check out Bogle in person should he come to speak in your area.

The best highlight of my day was running into Tony Curtis and his wife at the Bar at the Roosevelt. He’s just such a doll up close and in person. The discussion before “The Sweet Smell of Success” just didn’t do him justice. So if you have the time be sure to stop by Curtis’ book signing Sunday, or any time he has one anywhere. You won’t be disappointed.