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carole lombard 03

Like grandfather, like grandson

Posted by vp19 on 2012.11.07 at 01:27
Current mood: relaxedrelaxed

Carole Lombard and William Powell weren't the only things "Man Of The World" and "Ladies' Man" had in common. These Paramount films from the first half of 1931 were both written by Herman J. Mankiewicz, who a decade later would work with a wunderkind from the east named Orson Welles to write a little film called "Citizen Kane."

If the name "Mankiewicz" rings a bell, it should...especially if you regularly watch Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. That's because Herman's grandson, Ben Mankiewicz, is the channel's weekend daytime host (he recently added Friday nights to his schedule), and is usually TCM's substitute when regular weeknight host Robert Osborne takes time off.

The younger Mankiewicz, who never knew his grandfather (Herman died in March 1953), will introduce a free screening of "On The Waterfront" at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh, joined by Eva Marie Saint, who won a best supporting actress Academy Award in that film. (While admission is free, tickets are required; go to http://www.tcm.com/2012/roadtohollywood/details.html?city=2.)

Ben was recently interviewed by the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, and given his family lineage, it may surprise you to know that he didn't catch the classic movie bug from early childhood; he grew up in Washington, where his father, Frank Mankiewicz, was a local newscaster and part of the D.C. political landscape. As Ben put it, in his household, "George McGovern was a bigger star than Jack Nicholson. I was in my teens and thought, 'These movies are in black and white and not interesting and in another era.'”

eva marie saint cary grant north by northwest 00

What changed him? Some gentle persuasion from his mother...who invited him to join her in watching Eva Marie Saint's other signature film, "North By Northwest," when it came on TV. He saw it, and noted, "That made a difference. I got past it [the era thing], and if I can get past it, others can get past it, too."

Mankiewicz has some other perceptive things about comparing classic Hollywood to today at http://triblive.com/aande/2897777-74/movies-movie-classic-mankiewicz-effects-special-tcm-hollywood-compelling-films#axzz2BVhCV9bL, and the interview ends with this: Asked for his "ultimate leading lady, living or dead," he replied: "Carole Lombard. Girls who make me laugh always get me going, and she was bawdy and (gutsy) and cursed and (was) both sexy and sexual while still being so freaking funny — and a fearless performer." To borrow a line of his from a TCM promotion, how cool is that?

Welcome to the club, Ben...and I wouldn't be surprised if your grandfather had felt the same way about her.

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