Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz

Ben Mankiewicz (Host of Turner Classic Movies) on Cinema Classics & Growing Up in a Legendary Family

February 07, 2024 Kevin Goetz / Ben Mankiewicz Season 2024 Episode 36
Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz
Ben Mankiewicz (Host of Turner Classic Movies) on Cinema Classics & Growing Up in a Legendary Family
Show Notes Transcript

Join Kevin Goetz as he welcomes the host of Turner Classic Movies, Ben Mankiewicz. As a member of the illustrious Mankiewicz family, Ben provides a unique insider perspective, from delightful stories about his early life surrounded by Hollywood royalty to the privileges and expectations that come with having a famous name. He also shares colorful anecdotes about his father, who spurned the movie business in favor of making an impact through politics and public service. Throughout the episode, Ben brings his deep passion for film to life, offering thoughtful analysis and critiques on everything from beloved classics like Casablanca to defining what makes a movie truly great. His joy and encyclopedic knowledge when discussing cinema is infectious.

Ben's Family Legacy and Getting into Columbia (2:42)
Ben talks about his family's long history at Columbia and getting rejected initially despite his famous relatives.

Ben’s Father Spurning Hollywood for Public Service (8:08)
Ben recounts his father Frank Mankiewicz's remarkable transition from Hollywood entertainment lawyer to a member of the Peace Corps in Peru. He further elaborates on his father's notable career milestones, which encompassed serving as Robert F. Kennedy's press secretary and spearheading George McGovern's campaign.

Following His Own Path (9:15)
Ben compares his interests to his father's drive to make a difference rather than join the movie business.

Behind the Scenes of Turner Classic Movies (12:08)
Ben describes auditioning for TCM and having long discussions about movies, playing to his strengths. Ben says seeing The Barefoot Contessa on TCM right after his audition felt like a good omen he'd get the job because it was a Mankiewicz movie.

Ben's Takes on Classic Films (20:53)
Ben argues audiences over time, not just critics, determine what becomes a classic film based on emotional impact. Ben names Paths of Glory and Casablanca as his favorites for their emotional resonance.

On the Waterfront and the Problem with Kazan (33:47)
Ben expresses admiration for On the Waterfront, acknowledging its brilliance and emotional depth, particularly praising Eva Marie Saint's performance. However, he expresses disdain for Elia Kazan's decision to name names during the McCarthy era.

Mank and the Family Name (41:36)
Ben talks about being a Mankiewicz, and describes being incredibly moved by the 2020 biographical drama film Mank directed by David Fincher capturing Ben's grandfather Herman's spirit.

Whether you're a longtime TCM fan or simply love hearing little-known details about Hollywood history straight from the source, this podcast is a must-listen. If you enjoyed this episode, please leave us a review or connect on social media. We look forward to bringing you more revelations from behind the scenes next time on Don't Kill the Messenger!

Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Ben Mankiewicz
Producer: Kari Campano
Writers: Kevin Goetz, Darlene Hayman, and Kari Campano

For more information about Ben Mankiewicz:
Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ben_Mankiewicz
Twitter: https://twitter.com/benmank77?lang=en
The Plot Thickens Podcast: https://theplotthickens.tcm.com/

For more information about Kevin Goetz:
Website: www.KevinGoetz360.com
Audienceology Book: https://www.simonandschuster.com/books/Audience-ology/Kevin-Goetz/9781982186678
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram: @KevinGoetz360
Linked In @Kevin Goetz
Screen Engine/ASI Web

Podcast: Don't Kill the Messenger with Movie Research Expert Kevin Goetz  
Guest:  Ben Mankiewicz, Host of Turner Classic Movies
Interview Transcript:

Announcer (00:02):

There's a little-known part of Hollywood that most people are not aware of known as the audience test preview. The recently released book, Audienceology, reveals this for the first time. Our podcast series, Don't Kill the Messenger, brings this book to life, taking a peek behind the curtain. And now, join author and entertainment research expert, Kevin Goetz.

Audio Clips (
00:24):
“Fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy night”
“Today. I consider myself the luckiest man on the face of the earth.”
“…Rosebud….”

Kevin Goetz (
00:46):
What do all of these classic films have in common? Well, I'll tell you the name Mankiewicz, whether it's Herman, Tom, Joe, or Don. My guest today is also a Mankiewicz-- Ben Mankiewicz.  Ben is a television personality, political commentator, film critic, and my pal Ben Mankiewicz, who has been telling two-minute stories as the host of Turner Classic Movies since 2003. Once an anchor and reporter, he is one of the best interviewers in the business. Over the years, he has had long-form conversations with over 200 of the industry's top talents from Mel Brooks, Sophia Loren, and Martin Scorsese to Quentin Tarantino, Jodi Foster, and Robert Redford. He's a contributor to the Peabody and Emmy-winning news magazine, CBS News Sunday Morning, a podcast host, an award show host, and was bestowed the LA Press Club's Luminary Award for Career Achievement. Oh my God, no pressure on me today interviewing him. Ben, thanks for being here.

Ben Mankiewicz (01:49):

So, before we started, Kevin, and we were just chatting out there, and again, we're friends and I saw your little packet of notes and you said, I prepared and I was going to said so long as when you introduce me, you don't say television personality. I'm good with anything <laugh>.

Kevin Goetz (02:05):

Are you kidding me? Oh God. I'll re-record it.

Ben Mankiewicz (02:07):

No, no, no. We're not rerecording it.

Kevin Goetz (02:08):

By the time you hear this, it won't even be...

Ben Mankiewicz (02:10):

It stays. But I'm going to, I'm going to tell you why, 'cause I always think that that says lightweight and I'm going to use a guy's name, and I don't mean to insult him because everybody likes this person, but I don't want to be Mario Lopez. Mario Lopez is actually very good at being Mario Lopez. And he smiles. I don't smile.

Kevin Goetz (02:29):

But you're a Columbia graduate, <laugh> a four-generation Columbia graduate. Am I right?

Ben Mankiewicz (02:35):

Me, my dad, his father, probably just three.

Kevin Goetz (02:39):

And Josie is sitting in the other room.

Ben Mankiewicz (02:41):

She might be four. That's right.

Kevin Goetz (02:41):

And she might be the fourth.

Ben Mankiewicz (02:42):

When I applied to Columbia to get in as a undergraduate. Right. It was my first choice. They have a section in the application, you know, relatives who've attended Columbia. Okay. And we had to write, see attached page. And you know, one of them has four Academy Awards in two years, Joe Mankiewicz. And the other, Herman Mankiewicz. And my father Frank was just, you know,

Kevin Goetz (03:02):

And Grandfather Franz. Right.

Ben Mankiewicz (03:03):

And his grandfather, Franz, I think he just taught at CCNY. I don't think he taught at Columbia, but he might've taken a class. I don't know.

Kevin Goetz (03:10):

And don't forget, Don.

Ben Mankiewicz (03:11):

And my Academy Award-nominated screenwriter, Don Mankiewicz.

Kevin Goetz (03:15):

For I Want to Live.

Ben Mankiewicz (03:15):

I Want to Live. Susan Hayward. Right.


Kevin Goetz (03:17):

Who won the Oscar.

Ben Mankiewicz (03:17):

Who won the Oscar that year. That's right. And if not Tom, then Chris Mankiewicz. I mean, it's long. And I got rejected.

Kevin Goetz (03:25):

<laugh>. No, you did not. 

Ben Mankiewicz (03:26):

So I'm going to tell this story.

Kevin Goetz (03:27):

Wait a minute. You honestly got rejected.

Ben Mankiewicz (03:29):

So I got rejected. Given that I come from a family of people who love words, I wasn't great at 'em and I didn't know enough of them. 

Kevin Goetz (03:36):

Tell me how you got in. 

Ben Mankiewicz (03:37):

I was 540, 620. Those were my SAT scores. And those are, they're I guess, respectable. But given where I went to high school and given what my friends got, I was like, oh no, this is no good. Where'd you go to high school? Georgetown Day School. Not Georgetown Prep, not the Brett Kavanaugh School, the one that Kenta Brown Jackson was on the board of that got her in trouble in the hearings. But it was great. It was a progressive high school in DC and it was a school kindergarten through 12th. I went and it was modeled to be what a public school in DC should look like if they'd been integrated at the time when it started. GDS is the best. So I didn’t get into Columbia, and then I go to Tufts. And about October, so about six weeks into the freshman year at Tufts, my father calls and my dad always called in the middle of conversation.

Ben Mankiewicz (04:15):

Every conversation started with so as if we'd already been talking, answer the phone, hello and my dorm. And he goes, so, uh, do you want to go to Columbia? Right. Oh, and let me preface this by saying, we put see attached page for Mankiewiczes, but I would not allow my dad to make a phone call in any way to anyone or use any influence whatsoever to get me in anywhere. So I get rejected. Dad calls in in October, and he says, so you want to go to Columbia? I go, I don't know. No, I'm, I'm here. Like, it's already happened. I go, what happened? He's like, well, <laugh>, they'd called him and said, we're going to give Joe Mankiewicz, my great uncle, his uncle, the Alexander Hamilton Award with which they had given, if memory serves me, nine, they don't even give him out. Lou Gehrig has one.


Ben Mankiewicz (04:56):

It's for a particularly distinguished alumnus. And they wanted to give it to, to Joe Mackowitz, a writer, director of All About Eve, Letter to Three Wives, Cleopatra. And they wanted to give him this award. And because my father was another noted alumnus, they thought my dad would sort of MC the event, present the award to him. And my father goes, oh, that's great that you're giving Joe the award to the person who called from the president's office. But no, I'm not doing it. Very abrupt. So later the same day, the president of the university, I think it's a guy named Michael Sovereign, I might be wrong, but he calls and he says, Frank, if there's some issue with you and Joe, we should have checked. I'm sorry that I didn't call personally. I didn't mean to cause any offense.

Ben Mankiewicz (05:33):

And my dad goes, what are talking about? I love Joe. I think it's great that you're giving him the award <laugh>. And they're like, oh, I, I understood that you couldn't do it. He's like, no, I'm not doing it. He's like, oh, I'm, I'm confused, Frank, why aren't you doing it? He goes, because you didn't let my goddamn son in <laugh>. Right. Just like that. And so, and Michael Sovereign says, I can't believe, why didn't you call? He goes, I didn't think I had to call. And Michael, the president says, I'll call you back soon. He calls back the next day. He goes, look, I found Ben's application. It could have fallen left. It could have fallen right. If we'd known this back in the day when this was permitted at colleges or happened regularly. Nepotism, this is why I didn't want my dad to call. If the person who'd been looking at it had known who Mankiewiczes were, right, the Mankiewicz name, then he would've gotten in. Does he want to come now, like in the middle of October? Like I could have come Monday. And he goes, we'll work out the transfer, the credits, whatever. It'd be easier if he came in January. He could come right now.

Kevin Goetz (06:20):

Someone was so fired.

Ben Mankiewicz (06:22):

And so anyway, I was already chasing a girl at that point, <laugh>. So I didn't go.

Kevin Goetz (06:26):

So in our country, we don't have kings and queens. Our royalty is Hollywood. And you come from a Hollywood royalty, which gives you special privileges and access. Was it always a benefit or was it a bit of a detriment as well?

Ben Mankiewicz (06:41):

Overall, unquestionably a benefit. But I didn't know it growing up.

Kevin Goetz (06:45):

Because you grew up in DC.

Ben Mankiewicz (06:46):

I grew up in DC and my dad was a big deal there, but it was obvious he'd earned it. 

Kevin Goetz (06:50):

Can you just tell us what your dad did? Because your dad did not go into the movie business.

Ben Mankiewicz (06:52):

My father deliberately didn't go in the, if my father had wanted to be a screenwriter, he'd be a very…

Kevin Goetz (06:57):

He sounds like he was amazingly charming.

Ben Mankiewicz (06:59):

Very charming. And he could tell a story and he would've been great. But he thought that was not a business that made the world a better place. And his father, Herman Mankiewicz, the subject of the movie Mank, was embarrassed to have been a screenwriter, was filled with this sort of self-loathing, you know?

Kevin Goetz (07:15):

And Franz never got to see the awards bestowed on Herman or on Joe. Right?

Ben Mankiewicz (07:20):

But that self-loathing that Herman had came from his father Franz, who had been a literature professor in Poland or Germany. Germany, wherever it was, wherever the borders were at that time, wherever the borders happened to be. So my grandfather thought, you know, a playwright, that's distinguished, a theater critic is worthy, a great American novel would be worthy. But this popcorn for the masses is beneath serious scholarship. If I could go back in time, that is the thing I'd change about Herman. Like, this matters. This matters. Right? And Citizen Kane matters. That's why he wanted his name on it. Anyway, so my father came from a family where the movies were never discussed, even though they lived in Hollywood for a time. My grandfather was the highest-paid screenwriter in Hollywood. And certainly highly respected. And, but all those parties, the kind of parties you host now, where interesting people come, like, you know, that it could be a cliche that it's a Hollywood party.

Ben Mankiewicz (08:08):

So anyway, my dad comes out, or he was an entertainment lawyer and he hated it. And then when John Kennedy was elected, he literally heard, ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country. And he called everyone he knew in Washington. And eventually that led him to Sarge Shriver. And he became the Peruvian director, first Peru director of the Peace Corps, and then the Latin American Director of the Peace Corps in like 1962. And that's where he met Bobby Kennedy.  So Latin American Director of the Peace Corps, Bobby's press secretary, George McGovern's campaign manager, president of National Public Radio, all of these things. And before that, with the 69th Infantry and, and beat the Nazis. Like, he just, this life was so big.

Kevin Goetz (08:47):

I read in a piece that you wrote, Ben, that when he died in 2014, he died at 90, but he went too soon. No. Yeah. I was moved by that. Yeah. Very moved by that.

Ben Mankiewicz (8:58):

It just, it just felt like it. He was, until he, you know, got sick very suddenly, you know, he was working. I mean he's incredible. Yeah.

Kevin Goetz (9:05):

He had all his faculties.

Ben Mankiewicz (9:06):

Yeah, totally. And he was also just a, he was a great father. Great father.

Kevin Goetz (9:10):

Yeah. And your brother. And you share the same opinion? 

Ben Mankiewicz (9:12):

No, we both, we both feel very strongly about our father.

Kevin Goetz (9:15):

I want to ask you a question about where you most identify, I suppose, is it more with dad or is it more with your uncle grandpa?

Ben Mankiewicz (9:24):

No, it was just my father.

Kevin Goetz (9:25):

So in other words, you're not a movie guy. I'm a movie guy in my heart and soul and, and show business is in my blood. And it's, yet it's not. Yours actually is. But yet your father went in this different direction. And so you are more your father's son.

Ben Mankiewicz (9:40):

Definitely. Wow. But no question. I'm more my father's son. And we have both thought that Herman, his father, if he knew what I was doing, he'd be like, so wait a minute, lemme understand this. You talk about, and he wouldn't say this with any hostility. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. But like, so you talk about somebody else's movie for like a couple of minutes and they play that other person’s movie, but then talk a little bit at the end and you just do that again and again and again. And they pay you for this <laugh> and you'll be like, well, this is an amazing job. That's a never, never, ever give up this job.

Kevin Goetz (10:09):

Who writes that for you? The intros and outros?

Ben Mankiewicz (10:12):

A combination of people over time. It's been probably 15 different people, but I spend more time crafting those scripts, but I don't craft 'em from a blank page. I craft them from a structure that has been going.

Kevin Goetz (10:21):

Sure. And when you make them your own, do you make notes on the, and then they put 'em in the teleprompter for you?

Ben Mankiewicz (10:26):

I did. I used to for Robert also, but, and when I started for the first nine or 10 years, I'd write little marks, you see, I mean lines coming up all sure carrots, carrots, all these right down and flip it on the white front of the back. Then somebody would somehow read those notes. I used to get a lot of calls, do you know what you meant here? And I couldn't even read it myself. They'd, so then finally it was like, wait a minute, I can do this on a computer. <laugh>,

Kevin Goetz (10:47):

There's no question in my mind that you have a gravitas. And that if, if TV personality means anti gravitas, then you are not a TV personality. You are in fact a journalist and you really inspire a sense of trust. Like so many folks, you said it again in writings that I read about you researching this interview today that like, people revere Turner Classic Movies. They do, it's a love brand. And I'm very much into understanding what that means. In fact, I bought a company, I think I mentioned to you at some point, I bought a company called Coherency, which measures love, love of movies, love of television shows, love of brands, and that love quotient, which is the product that we offer, gives the emotional and the rational sort of a combination, an alchemy. And that is what Turner Classic movies is.

Ben Mankiewicz (11:40):

Right. It is a feeling, it's an emotion, it's an emotional attachment.

Kevin Goetz (11:43):

It is in our home 'cause my husband is like a huge fan. I'm an okay fan and the only reason I'm an okay fan is because I like watching movies in their entirety. And Neil could literally turn on Turner Classic Movies and start watching the movie like 41 minutes in and he's seen it and he's seen it three times before. Right. And I need to start it, understand it, hear your commentary, hear the, you know. Yeah. Robert Osborne was a legend.

Ben Mankiewicz (12:07):

Totally. He invented this job.

Kevin Goetz (12:08):

And you got the second hosting job. How did you get the job?

Ben Mankiewicz (12:14):

Good fortune, luck. And I came out to LA, I didn't want to be a journalist anymore. I'd been a television reporter.

Kevin Goetz (12:21):

On camera?

Ben Mankiewicz (12:22):

Oh yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. And then I got into Columbia Journalism school later and I, I told my dad not to call again. But you talked about the privilege of being a Mankiewicz. And there's no question. It is. I just, there was a funny moment in when Mank came out and we did, my brother and I, Josh Mankiewicz was a correspondent for Dateline NBC and the best big brother in the history of the world. He's much older, much, much older.

Kevin Goetz (12:41):

Not much older.

Ben Mankiewicz (12:41):

He's much older. He's much older man than I, no, he's 12 years older. So he had an interesting relationship. There's no competition.

Kevin Goetz (12:46):

But he's not as much of a stud as you are. 

Ben Mankiewicz (12:48):

Well, that's right. I say so, but he taught me how to be on TV, taught me how to write. He taught me how to tell a story, how to pause. Wow. You know, taught me how to shave, taught me how to shampoo my hair. All these things, you know, in addition to how to talk to girls. 

Kevin Goetz (13:01):

Wow. Yeah. That's like really cool.

Ben Mankiewicz (13:02):

Yeah, it's great.

Kevin Goetz (13:04):

So how'd you get the job?

Ben Mankiewicz (13:05):

So I came out, I auditioned for every job there was. I wanted to be a talk show host, game show host.

Kevin Goetz (13:09):

Who represented you at that time for like, like how does that work? 

Ben Mankiewicz (13:13):

That was Bienstock run by Richard and Carol Leibner, and their son Adam was my agent first. And I just…

Kevin Goetz (13:19):

They represented like news and sports people?

Ben Mankiewicz (13:21):

News people, totally 100 percent news people. Got it. Yeah. And then I eventually switched to Ken Linder because I had a meeting with him and he was like, you're like a combination of Keith Olberman and Dennis Miller. And I like couldn't have, like where do I sign, where do I sign, how do I sign with you? Right. That was, it was like if we were going to trick me into something, that was how in, in 2005. I mean, I don't think it's true, but it was very flattering to hear at the time. I went on all these auditions. Auditions, and they're just the worst thing in the world. I mean, you come into a sterile room and they're like, you're the host of this game show. Contestant one is named Josie, contestant two is name Kevin, and then I explain the rules while reading off a giant cue card. And the rules are, are Kevin, they're baffling. Alright, Kevin, the first two questions go to you. You have a chance to answer the first question. If you miss it, you can go back to the second question. But if you miss that one, Josie should be ready with a chance to steal.

Kevin Goetz (14:06):

So you did audition to be a TV personality?

Ben Mankiewicz (14:06):

<laugh>. Yeah. Yes, I did. That's right. And I didn't get any of those jobs. I came close a couple times. I was a finalist for the syndicated version of The Weakest Link, the one that had been hosted by the English woman on prime time. But I didn't get that. I thought of different ways to say the catchphrase was, you are the weakest link, goodbye. And she would say it with her sort of cur prep school English accent. Right. So I <laugh> the night before I learned how to say goodbye in like eight different languages. And so like, I got a big stage, big audition, full show, 30 minutes. And they're, and you know, and I go, you know, you are the weakest link arrivederci. And they're like, whatever. I said, do svidaniya, whatever. And they're like, what are you doing? I'm like, oh, I thought it would say it different. And they're like, say it in English, stick to the script. <laugh>. Yeah. Say in English. Stick to the script. Yeah, totally. And then the TCM audition process at that point was they were looking for another host to do weekends during the day where research had shown a lot of people watching movies Saturday and Sunday during the day. Robert did prime time, seven nights a week, Robert Osborne. And they brought me in and, and for a brief moment, their plan for the weekend was… 

Kevin Goetz (15:08):

They flew you into Atlanta?

Ben Mankiewicz (15:09):

No, it was out here. It was out here. Both auditions were out here. I was with 10, 8, 9 other people. And it was, their plan was they would have a host and the host would have a guest or a number of guests. And it would be whether it was a filmmaker or the child of a filmmaker or some relative, some expert. But they were wanting to get filmmakers on the air and it would be in conversation. So they had us watch Seven Samurai and then John Sturgis's 1960 remake, The Magnificent Seven, the Western remake of Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai. So I watched these movies and oddly enough I'd seen Seven Samurai. I had never seen The Magnificent Seven at that point. And the audition would be they'd bring three of us in. One of us would be the host, two of us would be the guests.

Ben Mankiewicz (15:48):

And they mix it up. And they kept having me come back. I was like, in every setting. Wow. And I was like, they like me. But think of that, if I'd gone in again and just read on the prompter, I mean, I'd been in news, I could read a teleprompter. It's a strange skill to have, but it doesn't make you smart. But here I was talking to people and engaging in something and there was time, like we'd have 10-minute conversations. Nobody was saying, okay, great, thanks for coming in, and walking out of a sterile room, there was give and take. And they used me as the guest and they kept using me as the host again and again. And I thought, well, I think I've done, I've done well in this audition 'cause I could breathe. And I learned quickly that I'd made the next round.

Ben Mankiewicz (16:23):

By the time I came back and I think with maybe two or three other people, they had abandoned that process. 'cause it was going to be way too hard to book. And it was just going to be read a lead in. All I did was come in and read an intro that they had written for the Bishop's Wife, Cary Grant, Loretta Young, David Niven. And I came in and I read that on a teleprompter in a hotel room in Century City in Los Angeles. And I finish, and the guy who was running it who left before I started was like, well, this isn't your first rodeo. No. He said, barbecue <laugh>. That's what was strange. I thought rodeo was gone. This isn't your first barbecue. And then I got the job. And if that had been the luck of having them have this different idea for the first audition is why I got the job.

Ben Mankiewicz (17:06):

That's what put me in the next round. I don't think I'd have gotten it if I'd just come in and read the first time. So, and that's the luck part. After that audition, I get home, my girlfriend at the time, I said, let's turn on the TV, let's turn on TCM and if a Mankiewicz had anything to do with the movie that's playing right now, I'll get this job after the second audition. And we turn it on and there's Humphrey Bogart, and right away I'm like, I think this is the Barefoot Contessa. And I think Joe wrote and directed this movie. And so, I don't know, it just felt like I don't believe in stuff like that at all, but it was a fun little moment. 

Kevin Goetz (17:38):

Well, I guess you've answered the question very clearly that Mankiewicz has primarily been beneficial to you.

Ben Mankiewicz (17:46):

Oh yeah.

Kevin Goetz (17:46):

In your life. I mean, I kind of knew the answer. When we come back, we're going to talk movies, and I mean specific movies. Back in a moment.

Announcer (17:57):

Get a glimpse into a secret part of Hollywood that few are aware of and that filmmakers rarely talk about in the new book Audienceology by Kevin Goetz. Each chapter is filled with never-before-revealed inside stories and interviews from famous studio chiefs, directors, producers, and movie stars, bringing the art and science of audienceology into focus. Audienceology, How Moviegoers Shape the Films We Love, from Tiller Press at Simon and Schuster. Available now.

Kevin Goetz (18:29):

We're back here with Ben Mankiewicz. Ben, truthfully, do you watch every movie that you intro and outro?


Ben Mankiewicz (18:40):

If this were a deposition, the answer would have to be no. Do I watch every movie? Definitely not. Have I seen now almost every movie?

Kevin Goetz (18:48):

That's where I was going.

Ben Mankiewicz (18:48):

Almost every movie. Close, you know.

Kevin Goetz (18:51):

And I'm, I'm not being funny when I ask this. Have you ever convinced yourself to watch a movie because it was really interesting what you were saying? 

Ben Mankiewicz (18:58):

Oh, all the time. Yeah. Yeah, totally. I mean.

Kevin Goetz (19:00):

Because you've gotten me interested to watch some movies because of the information you've given me about the movie.

Ben Mankiewicz (19:05):

I thought that I knew enough about movies when I got the job, and then it quickly became apparent that I was outta my depth. But I recognized it's like homework if you're into the subject, like you can always learn more.

Kevin Goetz (19:19):

As a head of a research company, I find that I have to be ahead of information because people are going to ask me in interviews and my company, my clients, they're going to depend on me to know certain things. And you kind of suffer from the same thing. 

Ben Mankiewicz (19:34):

Totally. Because people will come up to me all the time, and we're about to, as we record this, we're shortly before going on a TCM cruise. We've done 10 of them. We had film festivals and like people will come up to me and they have one or maybe two or three favorite movies, and they know everything about this movie. And so they'll be like, you know…

Kevin Goetz (19:52):

You better at least know the name of the movie. 

Ben Mankiewicz (19:54):

Yeah. Titles have become, I know a challenge for me to pull quickly. So they'll come in and they're like, I'm a little curious and fill in the blank. Why does Brian Ahern do X? And I'm like, dude, you've seen this movie 12 times and you just saw it.

Kevin Goetz (20:09):

Do you have any good screening stories that were either told to you by your uncle, your great uncle, your…?

Ben Mankiewicz (20:19):

Tom Mankiewicz, my cousin.

Kevin Goetz (20:20):

Yeah. Tom.

Ben Mankiewicz (20:22):

I have to think for a sec. I mean.

Kevin Goetz (20:23):

Because there's some really good ones, especially in the golden age of movies, when there was not necessarily as much of a codified way of doing what we now do. 

Ben Mankiewicz (20:33):

Well my grandfather said the legend is, and these stories are all too good to be true, but that he got fired, I guess, at Columbia by Harry Cohen because you know, Cohen used to determine in a screening, you know, if his ass got uncomfortable itched or right. So Herman has said to him, so, you know, oh no, there it is. I can't even remember the line, but, you know, uh, he moved his ass. We're doomed. Right.

Kevin Goetz (20:53):

Yeah. Totally. Totally. Is there a role that the audience plays in establishing a film as a classic?

Ben Mankiewicz (20:59):

Oh, I think the audience probably plays the most important role. I don't know that critics or film scholars alone can really make that happen because the impact has to be emotional. I understand that there are hundreds, thousands of really good movies that never connected with an audience. You'd know that to be true. It just happens, especially low-budget movies or slightly avant-garde films that probably were never going to find an audience. But I don't really have a good definition of classic, and you ask me tomorrow, might be different, but to me it's a movie that, that over a period of time, probably generations, continues to emotionally move people to the point where they recall the movie, think about the movie and want to watch it. And mostly it's this feeling that I have of they want to share it. Like, when you feel this passionately about a movie over a long period of time and that people who come into your life, you know, you're like, you have to see. You know, you gotta see Paths of Glory. You have, I got like, you know, I just saw three movies this week that many people have seen, should have seen. But I know that a number of my friends who care about movies and care about politics probably haven't. And I saw this week, again, all movies I'd seen before. Not fair, two of 'em I'd seen before, a couple of times. So, Battle of Algiers.

Kevin Goetz (22:17):

Never saw it.

Ben Mankiewicz (22:18):

Oh my God, it's so good. New Republic called it the most significant political film of all time. I put it at number one and the second one written by Elia Kazan, the screenplay by Budd Schulberg, A Face in the Crowd.

Kevin Goetz (22:30):

Which is extraordinary, extraordinary. Andy Griffith delivers a performance in that that is, it's just one of the great performances that I've ever seen.

Ben Mankiewicz (22:38):

Right. Could have been a respected, dramatic actor.

Kevin Goetz (22:40):

Why do you suppose no one's re-made it? I guess you could say Network is kind of that movie in a way, right?

Ben Mankiewicz (22:44):

Network is its 20 year later follow-up, no question. Delivering sort of Paddy Chayefsky and Budd Schulberg, Chayefsky wrote Network and Budd Schulberg wrote a Face in the Crowd. I mean, I'm not sure I've ever used the word prescient in a sentence with a friend, but you have to use it when describing these movies. And the third one is the documentary on James Baldwin from 2017 or 18, I am Not Your Negro, which I wanted to see.

Kevin Goetz (23:05):

What touched you so much about that. I have to see it.

Ben Mankiewicz (23:08):

Prescient, again because we got all these clips of Baldwin talking about the world we live in in various interviews in the sixties and seventies. And it feels like, oh my God, this guy more than anyone else understood where we were headed.

Kevin Goetz (23:21):

What do you think the most important political film of our generation?

Ben Mankiewicz (23:25):

So I mean, so not, not counting like Battle of Algiers, which is 66, you mean like in this century.

Kevin Goetz (23:31):

I’m talking eighties, nineties.

Ben Mankiewicz (23:32):

Eighties, nineties. That would leave out Three Days of The Condor.

Kevin Goetz (23:35):

It's kind of a bit of a hard question because political movies usually have to marinate, don't they? To have an importance?

Ben Mankiewicz (23:42):

I think so. I think that's right. I mean, there've been obviously some good ones. I mean like little movies. I mean, like Election is on the list, Alexander Payne's movie, which again, it's a political movie. 

Kevin Goetz (23:50):

I've worked on that movie. I remember that. That's where I met Alexander. Have you seen his new movie The Holdovers?

Ben Mankiewicz (23:54):

I love it. I think it's just wonderful. It's such a great film.

Kevin Goetz (23:57):

And especially since you went to a school like, not that, but like a private school, you kind of probably know that vibe.

Ben Mankiewicz (24:04):

A little bit. But the private school I went to was really modeled on like, I mean it was ripped jeans, call teachers by their first name.

Kevin Goetz (24:10):

Oh, this is more like Eaton.

Ben Mankiewicz (24:11):

Yeah. And GDS is not Eaton. GDS is more like the School Without Walls <laugh>, which by the way was the school in Washington. 

Kevin Goetz (24:18):

Yeah, that's right. What did you think of that movie that was, you know, boom, boom?

Ben Mankiewicz (24:23):

All Quiet on the Western Front? Yeah. The remake, or the new imagination. So I thought for the first like 30 minutes that I was, I thought what's happening with the music? Which I never notice in a movie ever. It's a weakness of mine. Like, again, but you can't help but notice here. That, and then I got invested after I finished it, I thought, oh, I think I, maybe I just saw something special.

Kevin Goetz (24:44):

What was incredible is they literally made barely any forward movement the entire time they were entrenched.


Ben Mankiewicz (24:50):

So, I'm going to do you a favor and not spend the next however much we have left talking about the madness of World War I, which I know a lot about. 

Kevin Goetz (24:58):

Okay, so we have go do another show about that.

Ben Mankiewicz (25:00):

Which is why everyone should see Paths of Glory.

Kevin Goetz (25:03):

By the way, I haven't seen Path of Glory in years. It was too hard to watch. It's heartbreaking at that time. So in the same way like Deer Hunter, Platoon, those were really hard movies for me to watch. But I'm going to go back and look at it because of your recommendation, which is so much about what we talk about in my book Audienceology, which is about audience advocacy and passion and evangelism actually means, that's the success. It's not trailers, it's not commercials. Right? Yes. Those get people aware and interested, but at the real selling point of any movie. And what defines a classic is that definite recommendation, that word of mouth.

Ben Mankiewicz (25:40):

Right. And that applies, by the way, coming back to my DC roots. That applies to politics too. You can have as many ads as you want there. Some of them are incredibly effective. But man, when your neighbor starts saying, you should look at this guy, when your friends starts saying, this is a candidate who interests me, that has a very powerful effect on voters.


Kevin Goetz (25:57):
Alright, so I'm going to just play a little here and just throw some little speed round for a moment and just see what comes out.

Ben Mankiewicz (26:03):

Okay. Alright.

Kevin Goetz (26:04):

I'm going to ask you some favorites. First of all, is Citizen Kane your favorite movie of all time? 

Ben Mankiewicz (26:10):

No, because it doesn't move me emotionally like other movies. It's brilliant and it's super important and arguably one of the most significant political films. Certainly, it's high on the New Republic's list, but I don't cry during Citizen Kane. 

Kevin Goetz (26:26):

What is the favorite classic movie of all time?


Ben Mankiewicz (26:29):

It's either Paths of Glory, Stanley Kubrick's World War One film produced by Kirk Douglas starring Kirk Douglas. It's the best, is as good a war movie as you're going to get. It's really a courtroom movie except Battle of Algiers might be the best war movie, except Saving Private Ryan is the best war movie. So you see my problem with saying best. But so it's either Paths of Glory, which is so moving and difficult to watch in a good way. And then Casablanca, it's the best studios have ever done. 

Kevin Goetz (26:53):

Well, arguably the list goes back and forth between Casablanca and Citizen Kane always. Yeah, that's right. Yeah. The top AFI lists and all those lists.

Ben Mankiewicz (27:01):

But why I like Casablanca better is because Casablanca never fails to move me. I will cry always during Casablanca.

Kevin Goetz (27:06):

You just said something that I say is of absolute paramount importance when we test movies for the emotional and intellectual satisfaction. Yeah. Needing to be there in tandem.

Ben Mankiewicz (27:20):

Yeah.

Kevin Goetz (27:20):

For the great movies. 

Ben Mankiewicz (27:21):

That’s right. They have to be there in tandem. You have to feel it. That's what makes you go back. I feel easily, I cry when Bart is kind to Lisa on The Simpsons. You know, I get choked up when he stops being a punk.

Kevin Goetz (27:32):

You heard it here first. Let me ask you this one, the movie that you watch over and over again?

Ben Mankiewicz (27:39):

Oh my God, so many. I watch Casablanca a lot. I watch Shawshank Redemption a lot. Good. And I'm a man in my fifties. 

Kevin Goetz (27:47):

What if you want to laugh?

Ben Mankiewicz (27:48):

I watch Anchorman a lot.


Kevin Goetz (27:50):

The first one.

Ben Mankiewicz (27:50):

The first one, the first one is special. Ron Burgundy. And my brother, you know, has been in news all his life, doesn't think it's funny. And it confounds me that my brother doesn't think Anchorman is funny. I'm like, no.

Kevin Goetz (28:00):

What does he think is funny?

Ben Mankiewicz (28:01):

First of all, my brother is hilarious, so that's the part of the problem is that he's so funny. I mean, what does he think is funny?

Kevin Goetz (28:07):

Can we have a beer or scotch or something some night with him. I'd love to get to know him. He sounds like he’s just a great guy.

Ben Mankiewicz (28:12):

He's not going to drink beer or a scotch. But, but yeah. But we can hang out.

Kevin Goetz (28:16):

What's the most underrated film?

Ben Mankiewicz (28:19):

Most underrated film. Well, there's so many great films. I don't know quite that I'm going to be able to come up with a great answer. I was preparing to do an interview, a long-form interview, a couple hours with Eli Roth. Right.

Kevin Goetz (28:31):

He's going to be a guest next week.

Ben Mankiewicz (28:33):

I had never seen an Eli Roth movie because they're not my kind of movies. I can watch violence. I cannot watch people who torture, who know they're going to die being tortured. Yeah. Like, that's not, I can't do it. And so it's just not my kind of movie. But as soon as I saw the first 20 minutes of his first film, Cabin Fever, which he wrote, you can see that this is a director with a sense of purpose, even though it's not my kind of movie. I'm like, this is well made.

Kevin Goetz (28:57):

I really enjoyed working with him.


Ben Mankiewicz (28:58):

And then, and he seems really engaging. Like I already like him and he's very handsome.

Kevin Goetz (29:04):

Do you want to see his bar mitzvah picture? I have it here.

Ben Mankiewicz (29:06):

Oh, I would like to see his bar mitzvah.

Kevin Goetz (29:07):

He sent me, it's in, in the other room 'cause I left my phone in there. But he, he sent me the bar mitzvah picture with his buddy who wrote his latest movie, Thanksgiving, with him and the two of them like standing there. And then he sent me another one when they were playing pool like when he was like 13 with the same guy. That's loyalty man.

Ben Mankiewicz (29:24):

When I was screening stuff before I was watching his scenes in Inglorious Bastards, another movie I love. I like pretty much all Tarantino's movies. And I pause it and I say to my wife, this is the night before I'm supposed to do the interview with Eli and I, I'm like, you know, hey, that's Eli Roth. And she was like, that's Eli Roth? He's gotta be America's most handsome director. Anyway, so one of the movies I watched was Eli Roth’s remake of Death Wish, which was generally panned by critics. And it was Bruce Willis, and one of the actresses I love most in the world is Elizabeth Shue. I can't get enough of Elizabeth Shue, but I watched Death Wish and so expectation. So I thought, this movie's good. This is insane. This movie's good. It's not going to get Oscar-nominated.

Kevin Goetz (30:03):

So you'll say that Death Wish is probably the most underrated movie that you've seen in recent memory.

Ben Mankiewicz (30:08):

In recent. You have to drop most, there are so many underrated movies. That's the most, that's one I saw recently that I was like, no, this is, you guys are insane. This is fine. I thought Bullet Train was good, wasn't it? Like, I was like, I think I'm supposed to hate this movie, but I didn't. I was totally engaged. Was it stupid? Yeah. I don't care. 

Kevin Goetz (30:26):

Oh, it was so good though. Yeah. It's so funny isn't it. Like, and, and it just sort of kept going, you know, had had a sort of energy. How about an overrated movie? Can you say that?

Ben Mankiewicz (30:36):

Well, it's funny. This is why I didn't like being a critic. I'm going to give you an answer, but why I didn't like being a critic was because I A…

Kevin Goetz (30:43):

Didn't like saying mean things about people.

Ben Mankiewicz (30:44):

I didn't like saying mean things to people who are pouring their heart into their art. And I wasn't good at it. I always felt like I was imitating what a critic would sound like. Ooh. Like I'm supposed to. Imposter syndrome. It definitely felt like an imposter doing it. And I was so I wasn't good at it. And that comes through because you have to be authentic. You asked me movies that move me. I mean, there are plenty by the way. I didn't mention like Random Harvest and, and you know, His Girl Friday. There, there's so many classics that I love that I think. Stagedoor, right? Stagedoor is so good. And that's a super underrated movie. Because it's not Oh, it's not on, there's a great, there's a great chance to see Lucille Ball before she was Lucille.

Kevin Goetz (31:18):

May I also recommend that you listen to Lux theater.

Ben Mankiewicz (31:20):

Lux Theater. Yeah. I was going to say I've been…

Kevin Goetz (31:21):

Neil and I have been listening to those and falling asleep to those. And Stagedoor is so good. And in fact it's not with Katherine Hepburn, but I forget who played. It's another very, very big strong actress. And you have other people in it that were in the movie. Like Eve Arden. Lucille Ball never did it. But it was done in the, I want to say in the fifties. But it tears your heart out as a movie. And yet it's so funny and the banter.

Ben Mankiewicz (31:46):

Banter is so good, is so good. Eve Arden, you get Eve Arden in your movie and it automatically becomes not terrible. Like it's guaranteed, just her presence in a movie. Just as a movie we just screened, Martin Scorsese got us interested in for a thing we have coming up called One Touch of Venus, where Ava Gardner plays a Greek goddess statue and then she comes to life through a, with Robert Walker. It is not very good, but Eve Arden's in it as the head of the department store's secretary and she puts her glasses up like this. Her glasses like are coming down there, like coming off her temples. And I just feel like that was a choice she made. But she's funny. 

Kevin Goetz (32:20):

Of course she made that choice.

Ben Mankiewicz (32:21):

Yeah. And by the way, she was a…


Kevin Goetz (32:22):

Comedic genius.



Ben Mankiewicz (32:23):

Really. She was a comedic genius. I would probably go with, if I had to like one movie that will make me laugh every single time as much as it did the first time, Midnight Run. I can't get a, Midnight Run is the greatest.


Kevin Goetz (32:34):

You're mentioning so many, like, how do I say this politely? Male-driven, more testosterone-based movies. My favorite movie of all time for a variety of reasons, and I'd like to get your opinion on it, is the Sound of Music. I've said it on the show before.

Ben Mankiewicz (32:49):

My daughter just made like, she looks like a…

Kevin Goetz (32:52):

Yeah. She came to life. 

Ben Mankiewicz (32:53):

Yeah, she Came to life from her iPad. Yeah. She loves Sound of Music. Sound of Music's brilliant. Yeah. 

Kevin Goetz (32:56):

But why is it brilliant for you? Because you never mentioned it.

Ben Mankiewicz (32:59):

No, because musicals tend not to reach me in the same way emotionally when they start singing, takes me outta the moment. So when I see a musical, I try very hard and I adjust my thinking. Like they're not, this is not quite real. This is breaking into song here. This is a bit surreal. I loved how in like Chicago that we found a reason for those songs to exist. You bet. Which I thought was really well done.

Kevin Goetz (33:22):

Well that was all wall to wall music. Yeah. Essentially, right?

Ben Mankiewicz (33:25):

That's right.

Kevin Goetz (33:26):

The Sound of Music has a great script,

Ben Mankiewicz (33:28):

Great script, great script. Terrific.


Kevin Goetz (33:30):

Well, the reason I say it's cinematic perfection is because of the music, because of the elevated sense of drama that leads us into music because of the settings, because of the perfect casting. All of those elements together made it to me the greatest movie. Also, another movie you didn't mention one of mine, On the Waterfront.

Ben Mankiewicz (33:47):

So, On the Waterfront, I struggle with. It's brilliant. It's such a great movie, but…

Kevin Goetz (33:52):

Cold.

Ben Mankiewicz (33:53):

No, it's emotional. And I love Eva Marie as an actress and as a person. Because Kazan named names oh boy. And no, hold on. Yes, yes. But I'll forgive anyone who did that because they're not, the people who named names aren't the real enemies unless they're like Adolphe Menjou. But the enemy is the industry and the government who conspired to put people in this situation where they had to lose your career, or I get why people name names, but you have to feel bad about it afterwards.

Kevin Goetz (34:22):

How did the Mankiewiczes fair in that.

Ben Mankiewicz (34:23):

I have a good couple good stories, but Kazan made On the Waterfront to say sometimes it's okay to name names, something's the right thing to do, is name names. And I want to say to him, hey man, the people who you're naming threw somebody off a building. That's different than guys who went to a communist party meeting in 1936 when capitalism had failed.

Kevin Goetz (34:43):

But it was a metaphor nonetheless.

Ben Mankiewicz (34:45):

Yeah. Right. But it's a metaphor that it, that stretches the credulity of your own behavior. It was a justification, as is seen through the prism as a justification for his own behavior. It makes me angry. That said, obviously is one of the great movies.

Kevin Goetz (34:58):

By the way, I can't watch anything with Roald Dahl when I hear about his antisemitic kind of underpinnings. And that's what I've heard. It's an opinion, but I…

Ben Mankiewicz (35:07):

No, he said 'em. Yeah, no.


Kevin Goetz (35:09):

That is very difficult for me to enjoy Matilda as an example. Right. Because of that reason. It's so crazy.

Ben Mankiewicz (35:14):

So, it doesn't keep me from enjoying it, but it keeps me from saying that it's mentioning it as, but like, but I just said I went off on A Face in the Crowd. That's the movie he made next. And it's brilliant, you know, and so is On the Waterfront. I love it. I've seen it many times. I just, I…

Kevin Goetz (35:30):

You cannot help but bring in that personal baggage.

Ben Mankiewicz (35:32):

If he hadn't written about why explained himself away. Like just say, just make it and shut up. 

Kevin Goetz (35:37):

You know what, and maybe that's the reason I actually liked it as much as I did, because maybe I did feel there was some sort of apology in that. I don't know.

Ben Mankiewicz (35:48):

I don't think, he's not apologized. He never apologized. And that bothered me that he never, but it doesn't matter. The movie's brilliant. He's as, he's the greatest dual threat theater director, film director, who ever lived, he could do anything. 

Kevin Goetz (36:00):

Yeah, it might be true. I mean, Mike Nichols.

Ben Mankiewicz (36:03):

Mike, I was going to say Mike, only Mike Nichols be the other person who would come to mind quickly. 

Kevin Goetz (36:06):

What about All About Eve? Again, I hesitate to say it might be my favorite movie of all time. That, and I also bring in Cinema Paradiso, which couldn't be more different. But the reason is there's always a personal connection that you get. And that whole Eve Harrington climber thing is so visceral and like, I don't know, you just feel it that and right?

Ben Mankiewicz (36:32):

It's a juicy movie. 

Kevin Goetz (36:33):

It's a juicy movie. Yeah. So well said.

Ben Mankiewicz (36:35):

So, and it's great.

Kevin Goetz (36:37):

And Cinema Paradiso, aside from the love of movies, and it could be the love of anything, it's that father and son connection. And I watched it again somewhat recently and it did not have the same effect.

Ben Mankiewicz (36:49):

Let me ask, did you watch the Director's cut? Did you watch the wrong longer version or the original theatrical cut? Oh, 'cause the longer version, I don't remember what it was. The long, so here's an example where the director's cut, does the director no favors, like the shorter, the shorter version of the movie packs a far more significant, and that's the one you would've seen originally

Kevin Goetz (37:08):

That's genius.

Ben Mankiewicz (37:10):

And that's the only one I think we should see.

Kevin Goetz (37:11):

Wow, wow, wow. And I'm wondering, it probably was the latter. Yeah. I mean, no, the former, I mean, it was probably was the director’s version I saw because why would I have seen it again? Right. And we brought it into the house, so.

Ben Mankiewicz (37:20):

It's like 38 minutes longer and it's not as good.

Kevin Goetz (37:23):

God, we could talk about this forever. Let me just end with an understanding of where you are headed personally, because we need a lot more of Ben Mankiewicz. Your podcasts, I have to tell you, I watched or listened to, sorry, the Lucy version of The Plot Thickens, which made me then go into the Peter Bogdanovich first season. Love Peter. But the Lucy, I thought I knew everything about Lucille Ball, I revered Lucille Ball. I've met Lucy Arnez, I've met Desi Jr., and this was so enlightening, and I loved the early years of her childhood, and you really got into her like essence and no book has ever really done that. And you were amazing and hearing you was really something. And then you went into Pam Greer, and then you went into Bonfire of the Vanities.

Ben Mankiewicz (38:21):

Bonfire of the Vanities was second, then Lucy third, you listened to them out of order, which you're allowed to do.

Kevin Goetz (38:27):

My question is they’re so disparate, how did you land on that? Because that connective tissue, well, there's none.



Ben Mankiewicz (38:34):

Can we have a conversation, very brief conversation. No, we have to go. About the words you just used. Because I say disparate, a lot of people say disparate. I don't know what's right. I say I like what I say, but I don't know who's correct.

Kevin Goetz (38:46):

Do you say tomato or tomato?

Ben Mankiewicz (38:49):

No. Tomato. Tomato. I know.

Kevin Goetz (38:51):

Who else says tomato?

Ben Mankiewicz (38:52):

Tomato, tomato, I can't be friends with somebody who says tomato. That's right. I just say potato.

Kevin Goetz (38:55):

So, the question was how do you have all these different subjects for your podcast?

Ben Mankiewicz (39:02):

Well, there's so many people to mention, but I will just say one, that the, that our sort of director of podcast and the person I work with most closely on these podcasts, a woman named Angela Carone. And she's just…

Kevin Goetz (39:12):

Every, you thank her at the end of every episode.

Ben Mankiewicz (39:15):

Well, she's this, she's, you know, TCM has blessed me with the opportunity to work with so many, and I use this, this is my favorite compliment to give to people. They're so competent.

Kevin Goetz (39:25):

Ah.

Ben Mankiewicz (39:25):

They're so good at what they do. And I love that. And it's such a pleasure to work with someone who knows what they're doing and has my best interest at heart. And I have hers. And we listen, we collaborate really well, and we come up with these ideas. I mean, Angela leads away on that.

Kevin Goetz (39:40):

What's your next one?


Ben Mankiewicz (39:41):

Next one's going to be, I don't know if I'm supposed to say it out loud, but I'm going to anyway, so it's going to be an interesting look at John Ford. I have a talk podcast too, coming up with the, that's what I was waiting with the Eli Roth and, and that that'll be coming up soon. That's in partnership with Max. But that's, that's down the, that’s coming soon.

Kevin Goetz (40:00):

That's not Turner Classic Movies.

Ben Mankiewicz (40:01):

It's a partnership between Max and Turner Classic movies. Obviously, we're all part of the same corporate family.

Kevin Goetz (40:07):

A lot of my listeners of this program are very familiar with the business. And we read that it, we almost had the demise of Turner Classic Movies and for the grace of God, but for the grace of God, it has survived and it must survive. It has to survive. I support the American Cinematheque very much, and the whole mission of that organization is to keep the theatrical experience alive and well. And so Turner Classic Movies does that. And Ben Mankiewicz, you are part of that story of keeping movies alive for so many of us. I thank you for so many reasons. But I especially thank you for being my guest today.

Ben Mankiewicz (40:51):

Kevin, thank you. I want to say one quick thing before I sign off. Please. So, you know, you started and asked about, you know, about my family and I'm so proud to be part of this family. And, and it used to bother me that, and my brother mentioned, I think I started the story, but when during the publicity for Mank, a reporter asked my brother and I, what’s the biggest misconception about the Mankiewiczes. And Josh instantly responded correctly that we're rich. And, because there's no money, neither of us has inherited a dollar and we won't. And, nor did my father inherit any money. Herman didn't have any money. There's some money on the other side of the family, but also the capital. It mattered. I didn't sort of think it mattered, but I it mattered to be a Mankiewicz in this town, in this business. And, it obviously has helped me.

Kevin Goetz (41:36):

How was Mank for you?

Ben Mankiewicz (41:37):

It was incredibly moving. I sobbed because it was exactly how my father described his father, who I never knew. That was it Gary Oldman, as soon as the first I saw him, I was like, oh, that's it. And I wanted my dad to have been there to see it so badly. He would've loved it. He would've loved it. Because it did capture the spirit of Herman, drunk, gambling, never mean except to people who you could be mean to. Louis B. Mayer. William Randolph Hearst, it's okay to be mean to him. Right. But he was, he loved his wife and he was loyal and hated himself. Self-loathing, you know? So anyway, I'm just proud to be in this family. I hope my daughter gets that, that it's worth being proud of it. And we inherited a legacy that I hope I can live up to.

Kevin Goetz (42:15):

Well, you have, you will. We all have confidence and we, again, are grateful to you. To our listeners, I hope you enjoyed our interview with Ben. I encourage you to follow him on social media and of course, check out Turner Classic Movies. Please also check out my book, Audienceology, at Amazon or through my website at KevinGoetz360.com. You can also follow me on my social media @KevinGoetz360. Next time on Don't Kill the Messenger, I'll welcome director, screenwriter, producer, and actor Eli Roth. Until then, I'm Kevin Goetz, and to you, our listeners, I appreciate you being part of the movie-making process. Your opinions matter.


Host: Kevin Goetz
Guest: Ben Mankiewicz
Producer: Kari Campano
Writers: Kevin Goetz, Darlene Hayman, and Kari Campano