Herman Mankiewicz, the Great Scriptwriter of Hollywood’s (Jewish) Golden Age

The recent film Mank tells the story Herman Mankiewicz, known in Hollywood circles by his eponymous nickname, whose work as a screenwriter includes The Wizard of Oz (1939) and Citizen Kane (1941). But it remains a matter of dispute how much of the latter script is Mankiewicz’s work, and how much is that of the film’s director and lead actor Orson Welles, whose name is much better remembered. As Jesse Tish writes, Mankiewicz’s frustration with this particular situation summed up his general dissatisfaction with his career:

“Millions are to be grabbed out here,” [in Hollywood, wrote Mank to the playwright Ben Hecht], “and your only competition is idiots.” [Such] invitations to “Eretz DeMille”—the land of Jewish-owned studios—hooked serious authors and playwrights. He was of their kind: success, for Mankiewicz, meant Broadway, not half credit on some blockbuster.

For Mank, everything was material, and not just for his future plays. In the 1930s, Mank haunted [William Randolph] Hearst’s lavish estate, gathering intel for future scripts (he would pour it all into Citizen Kane in 1940). He was also peddling a book, Twenty Years Among the Gentiles, chronicling his pith-helmeted adventures in Christian America. And he was drinking.

Being ignored and rebuffed, [as scriptwriters often were], had an upside: it fostered camaraderie among writers and inspired one thousand blistering jokes about studio heads. This class warfare—the mockers vs. the makhers—provides [Mank’s] best material.

Its mise-en-scène, that bustling 30s Hollywood, is beautifully rendered. It’s a Jewish Hollywood, familiar from Neal Gabler’s An Empire of Their Own. (Virtually all the writers and producers are Jewish. The two Charlies, Lederer and MacArthur, are the token goyim, straining to get a word in.)

Read more at Jewish Review of Books

More about: American Jewish History, Film, Hollywood

An American Withdrawal from Iraq Would Hand Another Victory to Iran

Since October 7, the powerful network of Iran-backed militias in Iraq have carried out 120 attacks on U.S. forces stationed in the country. In the previous year, there were dozens of such attacks. The recent escalation has led some in the U.S. to press for the withdrawal of these forces, whose stated purpose in the country is to stamp out the remnants of Islamic State and to prevent the group’s resurgence. William Roberts explains why doing so would be a mistake:

American withdrawal from Iraq would cement Iran’s influence and jeopardize our substantial investment into the stabilization of Iraq and the wider region, threatening U.S. national security. Critics of the U.S. military presence argue that [it] risks a regional escalation in the ongoing conflict between Israel and Iran. However, in the long term, the U.S. military has provided critical assistance to Iraq’s security forces while preventing the escalation of other regional conflicts, such as clashes between Turkey and Kurdish groups in northern Iraq and Syria.

Ultimately, the only path forward to preserve a democratic, pluralistic, and sovereign Iraq is through engagement with the international community, especially the United States. Resisting Iran’s takeover will require the U.S. to draw international attention to the democratic backsliding in the country and to be present and engage continuously with Iraqi civil society in military and non-military matters. Surrendering Iraq to Iran’s agents would not only squander our substantial investment in Iraq’s stability; it would greatly increase Iran’s capability to threaten American interests in the Levant through its influence in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Read more at Providence

More about: Iran, Iraq, U.S. Foreign policy