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Writer Tom Mankiewicz’s Unusual Credit On Richard Donner’s Superman Movies Landed Him In Trouble

When we talk about , screenwriters don't get enough credit. Their names are often overlooked while directors are treated as the true auteurs. Maybe part of that stems from the system of Hollywood itself, which tends to leave screenwriters low on the totem pole, with “Mank” even likening Herman J. Mankiewicz — the co-writer of “Citizen Kane” — to a mere “organ grinder's monkey.” Superhero films and other big studio tentpoles with a lot riding on their success can sometimes involve a revolving door of screenwriters, and this has been the case for decades. “: The Movie” had four credited writers, three of whom carried over to the sequel, “Superman II.” But one name you won't see credited as a screenwriter in either movie, despite his important contributions, is that of Mank's nephew, Tom Mankiewicz. There's a rather complicated reason for that. For both “Superman” and “Superman II,” Tom Mankiewicz did receive a credit as “creative consultant,” a new title without much precedent behind it in movie history. Rather than downplay his role in the film's production, this was meant to show that Mankiewicz had gone above and beyond the call of screenwriting duty. In a 2006 interview with Dharmesh Chauhan (via the Superman CINEMA archives on Caped Wonder ), Mankiewicz explained that he had worked closely with director Richard Donner on other aspects of the “Superman” production. “From the moment I came on the film,” Mankiewicz said, “we did a lot of the casting together, we looked […]

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