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Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Director / Screenwriter / Producer
1909 - 1993 
Born February 11, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA
Key Production Country: USA 
Key Genres: Drama, Comedy, Mystery, Comedy Drama
Key Collaborators: Lyle Wheeler (Production Designer), George W. Davis (Production Designer), Darryl F. Zanuck (Producer), Milton Krasner (Cinematographer), Alfred Newman (Composer), Rex Harrison (Leading Player), Hume Cronyn (Leading Character Player), Dorothy Spencer (Editor), James B. Clark (Editor), Barbara McLean (Editor)

Highly Recommended: A Letter to Three Wives (1949)*, House of Strangers (1949)#, All About Eve (1950)*, The Barefoot Contessa (1954)*
Recommended: Dragonwyck (1946), Somewhere in the Night (1946)#, The Late George Apley (1947), The Ghost and Mrs. Muir (1947)*, No Way Out (1950), People Will Talk (1951), Five Fingers (1952), Guys and Dolls (1955), Suddenly, Last Summer (1959), Sleuth (1972)
Worth a Look: There Was a Crooked Man... (1970)
Approach with Caution: Julius Caesar (1953), The Quiet American (1958), The Honey Pot (1967)
Duds: Cleopatra (1963)
* Listed in TSPDT's 1,000 Greatest Films section; # Listed in TSPDT's 250 Quintessential Noir Films section.

Links: [ Amazon ] [ IMDB ] [ TCMDB ] [ All-Movie Guide ] [ Senses of Cinema: Great Directors ] [ Film Reference ] [ Joseph L. Mankiewicz at Reel Classics ] [ Wikipedia ] [ Google Books: Critical Essays with an Annotated Bibliography and a Filmography ] [ Guardian Article (2007) ]
Books: [ Joseph L. Mankiewicz: Interviews ] [ Joseph L. Mankiewicz : Critical Essays and Guide to Resources with Annotated Bibliography and Filmography ] [ Pictures Will Talk : The Life and Films of Joseph L. Mankiewicz ] [ Joseph L. Mankiewicz ]
House of Strangers (1949)All About Eve (1950)The Barefoot Contessa (1954)A Letter to Three Wives (1949)
  "People Will Talk (1951) is one of the most appropriate titles in Joseph L. Mankiewicz's filmography. The screen was mostly a vehicle for his literate, witty, and satirical screenplays. Although Mankiewicz's films are dialogue-driven, they are not filmed plays. They have an elegant visual style, and many experiment with narrative form, being told from different points of view with an effective use of flashbacks." - Ronald Bergan (Film - Eyewitness Companions, 2006)  
  "Perhaps because he began as a screenwriter, Mankiewicz has often been thought of as a scenarist first and a director only second. But not only was he an eloquent scriptwriter, he was also an elegant visual stylist whose talents as a director far exceeded his reputation. He is one of the few major American directors who was more appreciated during the early years of his career than during the later stages." - Eric Smoodin (The St. James Film Directors Encyclopedia, 1998)  
  "The cinema of Joseph L. Mankiewicz is a cinema of intelligence without inspiration. His best films - All About Eve and The Barefoot Contessa - bear the signature of a genuine auteur... Mankiewicz's cranky liberalism sometimes gets the better of him, particularly when he wrenches scenes out of their context to inveigh against the evils of farm subsidies (People Will Talk) and oil-depletion allowances (The Barefoot Contessa)." - Andrew Sarris (The American Cinema, 1968)  
  "Conflicts between the psychologically strong and powerful interest Mankiewicz. The inevitable downfall of at least one of those is usually caused by an ironic flaw in that individual's makeup or strategy." - William R. Meyer (The Film Buff's Catalog, 1978)  
  "The difference between life and the movies is that a script has to make sense, and life doesn't." - Joseph L. Mankiewicz  
Please note that the rating given for this director (see top-right) is based only on the films we have seen (listed above). Films by this director that we haven't seen include Escape (1948).

"It's always apparent that hew was a writer first, a producer second, ad a director last. In a Mankiewicz picture the dialogue does all the talking. And rich, polysyllabic, epigrammatic talk it is too... Mankiewicz's literary qualities have led to his over- and underestimation as critical fashions have ebbed and flowed. His is a theatrical and artificial screen world, and in his films life often seems like a parlour game - or a debating club. But he knew how to stage a scene and he generally drew the bets out of performers." - Tom Charity, The Rough Guide to Film

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Key Noir Filmmaker  
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See Also
John Brahm
George Cukor
Michael Curtiz
William Dieterle
Henry Koster
Mervyn LeRoy
Albert Lewin
Vincente Minnelli
Jean Negulesco
Billy Wilder
Robert Wise
William Wyler


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