Competing with Idiots

While Herman and Joesph “Joe” Mankiewicz were responsible for much notable output in the film industry, in turn, many works of film and literature have also featured them. Herman almost immediately found success in Hollywood with Dinner at Eight (1933), Pride of the Yankees (1942), and co-writing Citizen Kane (1941). Joe produced The Philadelphia Story (1940), in addition to writing and directing A Letter to Three Wives (1949) and All About Eve (1950).

Though the two brothers were extremely talented, they worked quite differently from one another. One was a spirited screenwriter who struggled with alcoholism throughout his Hollywood career, while the other was a disciplined individual who secured four Academy Awards, in addition to becoming a director and auteur.

Nick Davis’s Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, A Dual Portrait, published by Alfred A. Knopf seamlessly blends the two stories of Herman and Joe together in a compelling and engaging narrative. Well-documented, photographed, and researched, Davis brings together a multitude of sources to depict the stories of these two talents. Combining telegrams, quotes, anecdotes, and more, Davis offers a frank and honest portrayal of these individuals, enlivened by the use of their own words.


Competing with Idiots: Herman and Joe Mankiewicz, A Dual Portrait is available for purchase via Penguin Random House.

About Annette Bochenek

Dr. Annette Bochenek of Chicago, Illinois, is an avid scholar of Hollywood’s Golden Age. She manages the Hometowns to Hollywood blog, in which she writes about her trips exploring the legacies and hometowns of Golden Age stars. Annette also hosts the “Hometowns to Hollywood” film series throughout the Chicago area. She has been featured on Turner Classic Movies and is the president of TCM Backlot’s Chicago chapter. In addition to writing for TCM Backlot, she also writes for Classic Movie Hub, Silent Film Quarterly, Nostalgia Digest, and Chicago Art Deco Society Magazine.
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