Joseph Leo Mankiewicz (//; February 11, 1909 – February 5, 1993) was an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. Mankiewicz had a long Hollywood career, and he twice won the Academy Award for both Best Director and Best Writing, Screenplay for A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950).
Joseph L. Mankiewicz was born in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, to Franz Mankiewicz (died 1941) and Johanna Blumenau, Jewish emigrants from Germany. He had a sister, Erna Mankiewicz (1901–1979), and a brother, Herman J. Mankiewicz (1897–1953), who became a screenwriter. Herman also won an Oscar for co-writing Citizen Kane (1941).
At age four, Mankiewicz moved with his family to New York City, graduating in 1924 from Stuyvesant High School. In 1928, he obtained a bachelor's degree from Columbia University. At 19, he was sent by his college professor father to Berlin where he was to study German drama at the University of Berlin. Instead, Mankiewicz got work at the UFA film studio translating film intertitles from German to English.
Comfortable in a variety of genres and able to elicit career performances from actors and actresses alike, Joseph L. Mankiewicz combined ironic, sophisticated scripts with a precise, sometimes stylized mise en scène. Mankiewicz worked for seventeen years as a screenwriter for Paramount Pictures and as a producer for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer before getting a chance to direct at Twentieth Century-Fox. Over six years he made 11 films for Fox, reaching a peak in 1950 and 1951 when he won consecutive Academy Awards for Screenplay and Direction for both A Letter to Three Wives and All About Eve, which was nominated for 14 Academy Awards and won six.
During his long career in Hollywood, Mankiewicz wrote forty-eight screenplays. He also produced more than twenty films including The Philadelphia Story which was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1941. However, he is best known for the films he directed, twice winning the Academy Award for Best Director. In 1944, he produced The Keys of the Kingdom, which starred Gregory Peck, and featured Mankiewicz's then-wife, Rose Stradner, in a supporting role as a nun.
In 1951 Mankiewicz left Fox and moved to New York, intending to write for the Broadway stage. Although this dream never materialized, he continued to make films (both for his own production company Figaro and as a director-for-hire) that explored his favorite themes – the clash of aristocrat with commoner, life as performance and the clash between people's urge to control their fate and the contingencies of real life.
In 1953 he directed Julius Caesar for MGM, an adaptation of Shakespeare's play. It received widely favorable reviews, and David Shipman, in The Story of Cinema, described it as a "film of quiet excellence, faltering only in the later moments when budget restrictions hampered the handling of the battle sequences". The film serves as the only record of Marlon Brando in a Shakespearean role; he played Mark Antony, and received an Oscar nomination for his performance. Mankiewicz was to direct Brando again two years later in the film version of the musical Guys and Dolls.
In 1958 Mankiewicz directed The Quiet American, an adaptation of Graham Greene's 1955 novel about the seed of American military involvement in what would become the Vietnam War. Mankiewicz, under career pressure from the climate of anti-Communism and the Hollywood blacklist, distorted the message of Greene's book, changing major parts of the story to appeal to a nationalistic audience. A cautionary tale about America's blind support for "anti-Communists" was turned into, according to Greene, a "propaganda film for America".
Cleopatra consumed two years of Mankiewicz's life and ended up both derailing his career and causing severe financial losses for the studio, Twentieth Century-Fox, which were not fully recovered until Rodgers and Hammerstein's popular and acclaimed The Sound of Music was released two years later. Mankiewicz made more films, however, garnering an Oscar nomination for Best Direction in 1972 for Sleuth, his final directing effort, starring Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine. In 1983, he was a member of the jury at the 33rd Berlin International Film Festival.
The Academy Film Archive preserved his films All About Eve and Sleuth.
He was the younger brother of Herman J. Mankiewicz. His sons are Eric Reynal (from his first marriage), the late writer/director Tom Mankiewicz, and producer Christopher Mankiewicz. He also has a daughter, Alex Mankiewicz. His great-nephew is radio and television personality Ben Mankiewicz, who currently can be seen on TCM. He also was the uncle of Frank Mankiewicz, a well-known political campaign manager who officially announced the death of the assassinated presidential candidate, Robert F. Kennedy, in 1968. He was not related to the similar-sounding British screenwriter, Wolf Mankowitz.
|1946||Dragonwyck||20th Century Fox||Gene Tierney / Vincent Price|
|Somewhere in the Night||Richard Conte / John Hodiak / Nancy Guild|
|1947||The Late George Apley||Ronald Colman|
|The Ghost and Mrs. Muir||Gene Tierney / Rex Harrison / George Sanders|
|1948||Escape||Rex Harrison / Peggy Cummins / William Hartnell|
|1949||A Letter to Three Wives||Jeanne Crain / Linda Darnell / Ann Sothern|
|House of Strangers||Edward G. Robinson / Susan Hayward / Richard Conte|
|1950||No Way Out||Richard Widmark / Sidney Poitier / Linda Darnell|
|All About Eve||Bette Davis / Anne Baxter / George Sanders|
|1951||People Will Talk||Cary Grant / Jeanne Crain / Hume Cronyn|
|1952||5 Fingers||James Mason / Danielle Darrieux|
|1953||Julius Caesar||Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||Marlon Brando / James Mason / John Gielgud|
|1954||The Barefoot Contessa||20th Century Fox||Humphrey Bogart / Ava Gardner||Technicolor film|
|1955||Guys and Dolls||Samuel Goldwyn / Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer||Marlon Brando / Jean Simmons / Frank Sinatra||Eastmancolor film|
|1958||The Quiet American||20th Century Fox||Audie Murphy / Graham Greene|
|1959||Suddenly, Last Summer||Elizabeth Taylor / Montgomery Clift / Katharine Hepburn|
|1963||Cleopatra||Elizabeth Taylor / Richard Burton / Rex Harrison||DeLuxe film|
|1964||A Carol for Another Christmas||ABC||Sterling Hayden / Peter Sellers||Television film|
|1967||The Honey Pot||Famous Artists Productions||Rex Harrison / Susan Hayward / Maggie Smith||Technicolor film|
|1970||King: A Filmed Record... Montgomery to Memphis||Commonwealth United Entertainment||Co-directed with Sidney Lumet / Documentary film|
|There Was a Crooked Man...||Warner Bros.||Kirk Douglas / Henry Fonda / Hume Cronyn||Technicolor film|
|1972||Sleuth||Palomar Pictures||Laurence Olivier / Michael Caine||Color film|
|1931||Skippy||Nominated||Best Adapted Screenplay|
|1941||The Philadelphia Story||Nominated||Best Picture|
|1950||A Letter to Three Wives||Won||Best Director|
|Won||Best Writing, Screenplay|
|1951||All About Eve||Won||Best Director|
|Won||Best Writing, Screenplay|
|No Way Out||Nominated||Best Original Screenplay|
|1953||5 Fingers||Nominated||Best Director|
|1955||The Barefoot Contessa||Nominated||Best Original Screenplay|
|Directors Guild of America|
|1949||A Letter to Three Wives||Won||Outstanding Directorial Achievement|
|1951||All About Eve||Won||Outstanding Directorial Achievement|
|1953||5 Fingers||Nominated||Outstanding Directorial Achievement|
|1954||Julius Caesar||Nominated||Outstanding Directorial Achievement|
|1981||Won||Honorary Life Member Award|
|1986||Won||Lifetime Achievement Award|
|Writers Guild of America|
|1950||A Letter to Three Wives||Won||Best Written American Comedy|
|1951||All About Eve||Won||Best Written American Comedy|
|Nominated||Best Written American Drama|
|No Way Out||Nominated||The Robert Meltzer Award|
|1952||People Will Talk||Nominated||Best Written American Comedy|
|1955||The Barefoot Contessa||Nominated||Best Written American Drama|
|1956||Guys and Dolls||Nominated||Best Written American Musical|
|1963||Won||Laurel Award for Screenwriting Achievement|
|Academy Award for Best Actor|
|1953||Marlon Brando||Julius Caesar||Nominated|
|Academy Award for Best Actress|
|1950||Anne Baxter||All About Eve||Nominated|
|1950||Bette Davis||All About Eve||Nominated|
|1959||Katharine Hepburn||Suddenly, Last Summer||Nominated|
|1959||Elizabeth Taylor||Suddenly, Last Summer||Nominated|
|Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor|
|1950||George Sanders||All About Eve||Won|
|1954||Edmond O'Brien||The Barefoot Contessa||Won|
|Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress|
|1950||Celeste Holm||All About Eve||Nominated|
|1950||Thelma Ritter||All About Eve||Nominated|
Mankiewicz was the youngest of three children born to the German immigrants Franz Mankiewicz, a secondary schoolteacher, and Johanna Blumenau, a homemaker.
The father, Franz Mankiewicz, emigrated from Germany in 1892, living first in New York and then moving to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, in to take a job ...
Mankiewicz, Mr. Frank, dearly beloved husband of Johanna, devoted father of Herman, Joseph, and Mrs. Erna Stenbuck. Services Park West Memorial Chapel, ...
Erna Mankiewicz Stenbuck, a retired, teacher in the New York City schools, died Aug. 1 in Villach, Austria, where she had lived for several years. She was 78 years old. ... She was married in ... to Dr. Joseph Stenbuck, a New York City surgeon who died in 1951. They had no children. She is survived by a brother, Joseph L. ...
His brother, Joseph, is a well known screen author, producer, and director. ... A sister, Mrs. Erna Stenbuck of New York, also survives.
Joseph L. Mankiewicz, a writer, director and producer who was one of Hollywood's most literate and intelligent film makers, died yesterday at Northern Westchester Hospital in Mount Kisco, N.Y. He was 83 and lived in Bedford, N.Y.