He may have lived long in his father’s shadow, Joseph L Mankiewicz, the writer of All About Eve and Cleopatra, but his screenwriting son, Tom Mankiewicz, who has died aged 68, will be forever known to a generation as the man who helped ensure the success of Bond and Superman in the 1970s, not to mention being responsible for bringing Hart to Hart to our screens.
Tom lent his name and talents to three Bond films in total, Diamonds are Forever, the last official entry with Sean Connery, and Roger Moore’s first two stints in the role in both Live and Let Die and The Man With The Golden Gun, all in his late 20s!
He was also billed as Creative Consultant on the original Superman and worked extremely closely with Director Richard Donner (the pair give a brilliant dual commentary on both the original film’s DVD and the Director’s cut of Superman 2) on making the mighty tome written by official screenwriter, The Godfather scribe Mario Puzo, into something lighter and filmable. As such he often found himself in high demand as one of those shadowy folk known as script fixers, working miracles, often on set and was an unsung hero on everything from The Spy Who Loved Me, Superman 2 to War Games, Gremlins and Batman, impressive by anyone’s standards and several hundred million dollars in box office receipts to boot!
Mankiewicz brought a lighter, more comedic edge to his scripts, something which makes perfect sense as you look at his long writing and directing achievements on The Bob Hope Show. Talking of comedy, his debut as big screen Director was the rather odd ball yet oddly likable film version of Dragnet with Dan Aykroyd and Tom Hanks, but it will always be writing that Mankiewicz shall forever be associated with and his vision of both Bond and The Man of Steel are still ingrained in the psyche so resolutely that for a whole generation Roger Moore was James Bond and Christopher Reeve was Superman. They may have acted the roles but Mankiewicz fleshed them out in his writing and made them quotable to this day.