We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

My Life as a Mankiewicz

An Insider's Journey through Hollywood

Tom Mankiewicz and Robert Crane

Publication Year: 2012

The son of famed director and screenwriter Joseph L. Mankiewicz (All About Eve [1950], Guys and Dolls [1955], Cleopatra [1963]) and the nephew of Citizen Kane screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, Tom Mankiewicz was genuine Hollywood royalty. He grew up in Beverly Hills and New York, spent summers on his dad's film sets, had his first drink with Humphrey Bogart, dined with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton, went to the theater with Ava Gardner, and traveled the world writing for Brando, Sinatra, and Connery. Although his family connections led him to show business, Tom "Mank" Mankiewicz forged a career of his own, becoming a renowned screenwriter, director, and producer of acclaimed films and television shows. He wrote screenplays for three James Bond films -- Diamonds Are Forever (1971), Live and Let Die (1973), and The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) -- and made his directorial debut with the hit TV series Hart to Hart (1979--1984). My Life as a Mankiewicz is a fascinating look at the life of an individual whose creativity and work ethic established him as a member of the Hollywood writing elite.

Mankiewicz details his journey through the inner world of the television and film industries, beginning with his first job as production assistant on The Comancheros (1961), starring John Wayne. My Life as a Mankiewicz illuminates his professional development as a writer and director, detailing his friendships and romantic relationships with some of Hollywood's biggest stars as well as his struggle with alcohol and drugs. With the assistance of Robert Crane, Mankiewicz tells a story of personal achievement and offers an insider's view of the glamorous world of Hollywood during the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Published by: The University Press of Kentucky

Series: Screen Classics

Front Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.7 MB)
pp. c-ii

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (26.7 KB)
p. iii-iii

Copyright Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (30.2 KB)
p. iv-iv


pdf iconDownload PDF (14.3 KB)
p. v-v


pdf iconDownload PDF (14.5 KB)
p. vi-vi


pdf iconDownload PDF (47.1 KB)
pp. vii-viii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (49.7 KB)
pp. ix-x

This is an impressionistic yet detailed account of what was to be the most significant season of my life—that faraway summer of 1954. It took a half century to gain a true perspective on that unique experience, for when you are very young, you assume golden opportunities lie around every corner....

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (61.8 KB)
pp. 1-6

As a child, I was taken to a revival of Charlie Chaplin’s feature The Gold Rush. It had no talking, although in this version, Chaplin himself narrated. The bun dance enchanted me; suddenly I was aware that a totally different kind of film existed besides those with Betty Grable and Tyrone Power....

read more

Chapter 1. Pastries at Rungsted

pdf iconDownload PDF (78.7 KB)
pp. 7-16

When I arrived, the day was shining. The Dreyers were staying at a modest painted house on a low hill surrounded by a yellow-green, abundant, leafy garden. I went up the round stone steps to ring the bell. Carl Theodor Dreyer opened the door himself, remarking gently, “The sun has come to light your visit.”...

read more

Chapter 2. Small room with a view

pdf iconDownload PDF (69.2 KB)
pp. 17-24

Vedersø is located in a remote part of Jutland, which sticks up from Germany like a rather large thumb. To reach it, I took a series of trains with a boat in between—coming to the last part of the trip by bus. That is, I arrived as far as the village of Ulfborg, where there was a travelers’ inn....

read more

Chapter 3. Sardines and cigars

pdf iconDownload PDF (81.3 KB)
pp. 25-34

Before lunch, we took a walk over the dunes to the North Sea, which crashed upon the shore some hundred yards behind the hotel. Walls of concrete helped keep the protective dunes from blowing away. There were several large pillboxes left as souvenirs from the Nazi occupation....

read more

Chapter 4. Lambs in the front yard

pdf iconDownload PDF (75.8 KB)
pp. 35-42

There was a tiny bluish, oval-shaped glass, a type of lens Dreyer usually wore about his neck on a cord, made for him by a famous Venetian glassblower. If you looked into it, you could anticipate how objects might appear on-screen, since color values were transmuted to tones of black and white and gray....

read more

Chapter 5. A feeling for atmosphere

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.8 KB)
pp. 43-50

Dreyer stood on a heath-covered dune facing the North Sea. “The sun was to set at eight twenty-six tonight,” he said. The horizon over the vast water instead had an opaque glow, a ghostly haze brushed dimly with pink. From the southwest, a procession of black clouds was heading toward Vedersø....

read more

Chapter 6. The rain and the fiddle

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.0 KB)
pp. 51-56

The lip of Cay Kristiansen had healed. And Henrik Malberg was well again. Scenes were to be shot of mad Johannes leaving the house at night at the start of The Word.
Preben Lerdorff’s collar had to be turned up in a special way, as Christ’s cloak, to frame his face; the coat was fi xed in place by Fru Jensen with thread and needle. Sheep...

read more

Chapter 7. Magic of the lens

pdf iconDownload PDF (65.0 KB)
pp. 57-62

A specialty of the hotel cook was fried eel. I grew fond of it and never would have guessed it was so tasty. Always there were several kinds of potatoes. The small Jutland potatoes are most delicious boiled and without skins, then sautéed with a light coating of sugar. The local bakery tempted us...

read more

Chapter 8. Something about Jesus

pdf iconDownload PDF (71.4 KB)
pp. 63-70

The density of rain was not what plagued Dreyer most. The rainfall often was easy, though it never seemed to cease because it hovered over, threatening, even if the pattering stopped—ready to begin anew....

read more

Chapter 9. In the end is my beginning

pdf iconDownload PDF (58.1 KB)
pp. 71-74

Dreyer’s discourse invigorated both of us, and it was well past bedtime. He was sharing; I was absorbing. His main intention in The Life of Jesus would be to show with respect the Jesus that may have been, historically—not a figure devoid of breath, not an incantation hidden under gold and incense....

read more

Chapter 10. The word that crushes cliffs

pdf iconDownload PDF (66.5 KB)
pp. 75-80

The two or three days little Gerda Nielsen had envisioned stretched out for weeks. We drank lots of Fru Kristensen’s strong coffee.
One morning during a downpour, “Vicar” Ove Rud and I took refuge in a shed at Borgensgaard. He mentioned the...

read more

Chapter 11. Leaves from a journal

pdf iconDownload PDF (81.1 KB)
pp. 81-90

Herr Dreyer sent a car from Palladium Studios to pick me up, after our return to Copenhagen. The interior sets were being finished at Hellerup, so he begged me to “taste them.” He was immensely pleased with the work of Erik Aaes, the designer....

Photo section

pdf iconDownload PDF (10.3 MB)
pp. A-X

read more

Chapter 12. Did they catch the ferry?

pdf iconDownload PDF (57.6 KB)
pp. 91-94

Ebba Dreyer cooked a terrific meal the next Sunday before I left Denmark. Goose, actually. I hope not from Vedersø. Herr Dreyer made it clear that for all studio scenes he must work in isolation, and I recognized it was prudent for me to accept the scholarship at the University of Michigan. I was...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (53.5 KB)
pp. 95-98

I received a fascinating postcard from Herr Dreyer once, yet to my regret, I managed to lose it. It stated that while searching out locations for The Life of Jesus, he had planted a tree in Israel in my name. I was deeply moved by this gesture....

read more

Appendix A: "Now the life will begin": Dreyer's introduction for actors in film

pdf iconDownload PDF (67.8 KB)
pp. 99-102

It is important in the film based on the play The Word that the minds of the audience right from the beginning are made receptive to the great miracle: the awakening of Inger out of the sleep. The abrupt switch-over from the natural to...

read more

Appendix B: Plot Summary of Ordet

pdf iconDownload PDF (74.9 KB)
pp. 103-108

This is a modified version of the official plot summary from the publicity developed by Palladium Studios.

Although The Word deals with a miracle, it is through and through a realistic film—about those who are weak in faith....

Appendix C: Letters from Denmark

pdf iconDownload PDF (76.8 KB)
pp. 109-118

read more

Appendix D: Dreyer on color film

pdf iconDownload PDF (74.7 KB)
pp. 119-124

Color films have now been on the screens of the world for twenty years. How many of them do we remember for the esthetic pleasure they gave us? Two—three—four—five?...

read more

Appendix E: Dreyer's lecture at Edinburgh: "New Impulses"

pdf iconDownload PDF (88.2 KB)
pp. 125-134

We can all probably agree that the film of today is not perfect. But we can only be grateful for this as there is a chance of development in the imperfect. The imperfect is alive. The perfect is dead, pushed aside, we do not see it. But a thousand possibilities are open for the imperfect....

read more

Appendix F: Dreyer on film style

pdf iconDownload PDF (89.4 KB)
pp. 135-144

A work of art, like a human being, has a personality, a soul. It is revealed in the way the artist expresses his conception of whatever subject he treats. If the artist’s inspiration is to be embodied in an artistic form, style is necessary. Through...


pdf iconDownload PDF (68.5 KB)
pp. 145-154


pdf iconDownload PDF (59.9 KB)
pp. 155-158

E-ISBN-13: 9780813136165
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813136059

Page Count: 368
Publication Year: 2012

Series Title: Screen Classics

Research Areas


UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Television producers and directors -- United States -- Biography.
  • Screenwriters -- United States -- Biography.
  • Mankiewicz, Tom.
  • Motion picture producers and directors -- United States -- Biography.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access