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||| 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.

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More On The Train Wreck Waiting to Happen Friday

By EdwardHavens

June 13th, 2001

One of our faithful readers, Bone, saw our report about Tomb Raider a couple of days ago and wanted to add some background about the incident with Simon West during one of the test screening of the movie. You see... Bone is, as they say, in the know...


"Obviously, we had known we were going to have a research screening of an "unknown" movie. No one was allowed to know the title of the movie. The only reason I knew what movie it was, was because the retards who built the print wrote Tomb Raider on the tail. Plus the fact that they MADE me watch it.

"The Paramount people and technicians, as well as the Dolby tech, had gotten to our theatre early the morning of the screening. Simon West showed up some time in the afternoon. By then the print had already been build and everything had been setup. They played the movie for him.

"When it was over, I kid you not, he came out of the auditorium screaming and yelling saying, 'This movie is a piece of shit' and 'No one's going to like this fucking movie.' He immediately got on the phone and called the editors to tell them to get their asses on the next flight out to our theatre. They arrived quicker than the paparazzi at any Madonna attended function and began to chop the film up. Cutting here and splicing there.

"Showtime was at 7:00 PM. The Paramount people said they needed someone to watch the entire movie from the booth to make sure nothing goes wrong. Needless to say, they volunteered me. I tried to get out of it saying that I had three prints of Pearl Harbor to build (which I did). They didn't buy any of it. Bastards. So I stood and watched the whole movie. I'll tell you, I'm not a fan of the game. I've never played it and I never plan too. I wasn't too impressed with it. It was okay. Some cool parts. Some not so cool parts. The movie was 6 reels long.

"After the screening was over, West again came out of the auditorium (this time with the crowd of over 800) still swearing and saying his own movie was a 'fucking piece of shit.' The other projectionists and I were, of course, laughing the whole time. West never came up into the booth. He was always busy down in the lobby talking to people.

"When time came for everyone to leave, the guy tearing down the print screwed it up big time. I don't know if he had ever torn down a print in his life. Somewhere in the fifth reel, the platter kept spinning when he slowed down the make up table. He saw this so he sped up the make up table which in turn caused the rollers to pull the film tight and crunch it all up. It was really funny.

"We had a trade screening of Tomb Raider last week and it was only 5 reels. Down from the 6 for the research screening. We got 2 finished copies the other day and they are 6 reels with the last reel being only credits. Neither the research print nor the trade print had credits. I've watched all three versions and I didn't really notice a difference. Then again, I don't really care."

Thanks Bone. Savant would also like me to add his own review: "It really really sucks ass."