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My Life as a Mankiewicz: An Insider's Journey through Hollywood (Screen Classics) Hardcover – May 8, 2012

4.5 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"One of the few books about the American movie industry that shows, not tells, what is meant by the idea that the business is one of relationships."―Tom Stempel, author of Understanding Screenwriting: Learning from Good, Not-Quite-So-Good, and Bad Screenplays

"Highly entertaining.... I came away from this book with a real appreciation of, and fondness for, how it works― from premise to pitch to scrambling for finance to dealing with ego dilemmas to final screenplay and practical on-the-set problems. [Mankiewicz's] tremendous respect for small and large collaborators, from grips to stars, is contagious."―Clancy Sigal, author of five books including Going Away and A Woman of Uncertain Character

"Mankiewicz details his journey through the inner world of the television and film industries, beginning with his first job as a production assistant on The Comancheros (1961), starring John Wayne."―Turner Classic Movies

"Highly entertaining....[Mankiewicz's] tremendous respect for small and large collaborators, from grips to stars, is contagious."―Clancy Sigal, author of five books including Going Away and A Woman of Uncertain Character

""A primer on the industry from someone who experienced it up close and personal throughout his whole life."―Yahoo! Movies"―

""A whirlwind tour through Hollywood history withy Tom as the affable guide."―Movie Maker"―

""There hasn't been a great book on Hollywood in quite some time, which is why My Life as a Mankiewicz is such a treat."―Script"―

""A treasure trove of observations and anecdotes about Hollywood from the 1960s to the 1980s and the people who made the movies back then."―Associated Press"―

""Details the developments of Menkiewicz's own career as a writer and director. It also recounts the wild, drug-fueled atmosphere of Hollywood and his romantic liaisons with big stars of the '60s, '70s, and '80s."―Our Ventura Boulevard"―

""One of the few books about the American movie industry that shows, not tells, what is meant by the idea that the business is one of relationships."―Slant Magazine"―

""A spirited and creatively non-linear account of his colorful and diverse career, transcending traditional storytelling by showing what it meant to be a Mankiewicz―in and out of the director's chair. . . . A top-notch read about a true class act."―DGA Quarterly"―

""There are stories about how he shepherded the Bond transition from Sean Connery to Roger Moore, and his rewrite of Superman, which created the template for every superhero movie up to today."―Maclean's"―

""After obligingly recapping his fractious family history in the opening pages, Mank dives headlong into the book's true purpose: serving up delicious Hollywood dish. He grew up on the sets of his father's films, and there is no reason to doubt his recollection of events. This time the tawdry Tinseltown stories feel true."―Globe and Mail"―

""A fitting tribute to . . . a member of of the glmourous world of Hollywood during the 1960s, 70s, and 80s."―Tucson Citizen"―

""Tom Mankiewicz was as close to royalty as one can get in Hollywood."―Los Angeles Times"―

""Prime firsthand anecdotes fill this consistently readable and entertaining book."―Washington Post"―

""This enormously entertaining memoir gives the reader the benefit of a superb racouteur's vast store of anecdote and incident."―Washington Times"―

""A trove of cinematic tales and celebrity gossip."―Biographile"―

""A brutally honest autobiogaphy."―National Board of Review"―

""My Life as Mankiewicz is a treasure trove of observations and anecdotes about Hollywood from the 1960s to the 1980s and the people who made movies back then." ―Winston-Salem Journal"―

""This enormously entertaining memoir gives the reader the benefit of a superb raconteur's vast store of anecdote and incident." ―Washington Times"―

""A consistently readable and entertaining book." ―Washington Post"―

""Tom Mankiewicz was as close to royalty as one can get in Hollywood. . . . He was also a raconteur of the highest order and many of his favorite stories appear in My Life as a Mankiewicz." ―Los Angeles Times"―

""One of the best personal accounts of show business ever published." ―Weekly Standard"―

""Every aspiring film writer, producer, director and movie fanatic should lay hands on this book."―Liz Smith, Huffington Post"―

"Tom Mankiewicz's novel My Life as a Mankiewicz has me enthralled. The movies. The name dropping. The little incidences. ― Daily Awareness"―Daily Awareness

"You can hear Tom tell these stories―of navigating sexy, alluring Hollywood while burdened with the expectations that came with being the son of Joseph Mankiewicz.―Ben Mankiewicz"―Ben Mankiewicz, The Week

"My Life as a Mankiewicz is a treasure-trove of observations and anecdotes about Hollywood from the 1960s to the 1980s and the people who made movies back then."―Independence Daily Reporter

"Chock full of fascinating stories from his more than four decades in the Hollywood trenches...for those who enjoy gossipy Hollywood tomes written by intelligent, wryly cynical insiders, Being Mankiewicz is an entertaining and engrossing read."―Hey U Guys

"...jam-packed... with delicious, trenchant tales of the famous and fabled."―Chicago Tribune

"From first page to last, this book is priceless."―Chicago Tribune

About the Author

Tom Mankiewicz (1942–2010) was a screenwriter, director, and producer of motion pictures and television series, perhaps best known for his work on the James Bond films, Superman (1978), Superman II (1980), and the television series Hart to Hart (1979–1984).

Robert Crane is coauthor of Bruce Dern: Things I've Said, but Probably Shouldn't Have―An Unrepentant Memoir, Jack Nicholson: The Early Years, and SCTV: Behind the Scenes as well as a contributor to Hal Ashby: Interviews. He lives in Los Angeles.
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Product Details

  • Series: Screen Classics
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Kentucky (May 8, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813136059
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813136059
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,113,109 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tom Mankiewicz has been a force in Hollywood for many years--the son of director Joe (Cleopatra among others). In his very candid memoir, Tom takes the reader into his life, first as the son of someone famous, then as he emerged as a force to be reckoned with on his own. A writer and problem solver for movies, including James Bond, Superman, and Delirious, his career spanned decades, and Tom rubbed shoulders of many of Hollywood's elite.

This informal and relaxed memoir was engaging, warm, and scandal free. I really enjoyed reading Tom's journey.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Tom Mankiewicz' book is full of fun stories about his time in Hollywood. His writing style is casual and suggestive about what contributed to him being a good script writer. A friend offered that today, Mankiewicz would not have survived the corporate film business; he would have only made it in the world of indie films. The Hollywood of Mankiewicz' time is gone. To read his account is to visit a particular time in the Hollywood film industry. I recommend this book for any lover of the movies.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was definitely a good read, and, as a primarily non-fiction reader, I always feel a bit of gratitude that they actually expended the energy to make a book happen....Not sure about my feelings about the man, Tom Mankiewicz....but some of the most puzzling people are the most interesting, in the end, aren't they.....
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Wit is ingrained in the Mankiewicz gene pool - and, having read books about his dad Joseph and Uncle Herman (both Hollywood legends), I figured I would move on to the next generation. I wasn't disappointed in the read; many great anecdotes and blunt assessments of Hollywood stars (Robert Redford, Natalie Wood, etc.), studio heads (Lew Wasserman) and agency vultures (CAA's infamous 80's stranglehold that apparently derailed Tom's career). This book might have earned five stars from me, except, if I'm reading the forward correctly, Mankiewicz passed away before the book was really finished - that means, even though we hear in great detail, for example, about his adventures as a p.a. on a 60's John Wayne western, we learn little to nothing about his involvement as a screenwriter on three James Bond and the first two Christopher Reeve Superman films, probably his most highly-remembered work (which, yes, pales in relation to his uncle's "Citizen Kane" screenplay and his dad's Oscar-winners like "All About Eve" but probably reflects today's movie mentality more than his talent). He seems to also think the two biggest movies he directed, "Dragnet" and "Delirious" were a lot funnier than they actually were, although, again, his overall perspective on Hollywood is very self-deprecating and enjoyable. The last few pages of the book are curious, as they seem repetitive and disorganized, as though the editor had to find a way to tie everything together but was out of material. Anyway, a very breezy and enjoyable read, minus the flaws I mentioned. I wish he would have stuck around a little longer to tell a few more stories...
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is an interesting book that's easy to read, although some parts do not flow well, probably because they were dictated instead of written. It was a quick read, but truthfully it was so light reading that I forgot what I read 5 pages ago.

It's similar to a gossip column. The stories about various celebrities were fun, but lacked depth. Of particular interest were the stories of Natalie Wood's accidental drowning, Richard Burton's drinking, John Wayne's bravado, and Jackie Gleason's ego. The parts that bored me were details of James Bond movies, Superman, Dragnet, Cleopatra, etc. This is an impressive list that a lot of readers may enjoy, but not me. I felt the same way about the author's love of Africa - interesting, but too much for me.

I gained an insight on how various professions work together to produce a motion picture and television program. The book reviews some of the talents and responsibilities that are required. I now understand what separates a screen writer from an author.

I also enjoyed the author's discussion of the sorry state of motion pictures and television. His example of "The Bachlorette" was apropos.

All in all, the book is entertaining but too light in content (where's the beef). Frankly, I've forgotten 90% of what I read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I personally knew Tom, he was a professor of mine at Chapman University. He was an absolute riot. Every moment he was talking he'd have some story to tell about meeting John Wayne or doing some crazy thing on set. While he wasn't in the brightest spotlight of film-makers in the past decades, Tom taught me a lot about cinema and gave me a few pointers on my scripts when I was a student. If you want to read some insanely crazy stories that Tom experienced, pick up this book.
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Very enjoyable reading and easy to follow structure. A great slice of Hollywood history. You would expect good writing by a Mankiewicz and you won't be disappointed.
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Excellent story teller and a well storied life. This book will fill your netflix queue for months. Great writing style. Breezy but fascinating read.
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