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

Advertisement

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (EdwardHavens)

By EdwardHavens

May 6th, 2009

Neil Young once asked if it was better to burn out than to fade away? In the case of Jonathan Levine's long-delayed feature debut "All the Boys Love Mandy Lane," the answer is crystal clear: fade away, as quietly as possible.

All the Boys Love Mandy Lane (EdwardHavens)

First screened at the Toronto Film Festival in the fall of 2006 and delayed from theatrical release once again as of May 6, 2009, "Mandy Lane" is one of those low-budget horror movies that'll become more infamous, not unlike "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Next Generation," for having been an early starring role for some of its leads than for anything within the film itself. Not that I am insinuating Amber Heard will become an Oscar-winning actress like Renée Zellweger or Michael Welch will become a rom-com whore like Matthew McConaughey. Heard is a pretty enough girl, but that's all she has going for her, and Welch, to be completely honest, is a lost memory. Not just two and a half years after seeing the movie, but even the very next day. In fact, everything about "Mandy Lane" was so awful -- the acting, the writing, the direction, the camerawork, the sound mix, the costumes, the music and everything else in between -- I have willingly chosen to avoid anything anyone connected to this movie has completed since then. It's going to take something really special to make me change my mind.

As for the plot, it revolves around a group of high school kids who head out to a secluded ranch to party, only to find themselves being knocked off one by one for something that happened during the movie's preface. And being a modern mystery/thriller, "Mandy Lane" can't just be a straightforward treatise. It must have itself a plot twist somewhere that throws the story in a different direction. But what happens when the writer throws that twist in too early in the story, like before the first half of the film is over? Well, you just know it's a fake-out and the real twist is coming later, and you'd be correct. In a nutshell, it's just a bunch of dumb, horny, drunk and drugged-out privileged kids getting some kind of twisted comeuppance for being they are dumb, horny, drunk, drugged-out and privileged.

That's a basic summary: dumb kids doing dumb things for dumb reasons. You might actually see for yourself someday, when it finally makes its belated DVD premiere somewhere down the road, but don't say I didn't warn you.

My rating: F