Mank tells Marion, “I hope, if this gets made, you’ll forgive me.” But does she?
[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Mank.]
One big, burning question David Fincher addresses in Mank is, who really wrote the script for Citizen Kane? As presented in Fincher’s film, Mank (Gary Oldman) is asked to pen a screenplay for Orson Welles. That screenplay ultimately becomes what wins Mank and Welles an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, Citizen Kane. The trouble is, Mank originally agrees to forgo receiving credit for the piece but then changes his mind when he realizes the script could give his career the boost it needs. Equal credit is awarded and both get that Oscar, but questions still linger regarding who contributed what and when. If you’d like to read more about what went down between Mank and Welles, click here to check out Adam Chitwood’s explainer.
But there’s another question that could linger after watching Mank on Netflix; what became of Marion Davies? Or more specifically, did she ever forgive Mank for using her affair with William Randolph Hearst as the inspiration for the Citizen Kane script? While on Collider Connected, Amanda Seyfried weighed in on the matter:
“She’s not one to hold a grudge. Nothing that I have come to understand about her would make me think that she wouldn’t just drop it. I think she’s smarter than that. They had a relationship that was pretty solidified in that they felt very equal and very safe around each other, and they made each other laugh and they spoke the same language in a lot of ways. I think she understands what he was doing. I’m not just saying that because of the movie. I really do believe she was cool enough to understand what that was. It’s a story. It’s a script.”
Yes, it was just a script, but Citizen Kane and the rumors around it undoubtedly impacted Davies’ reputation. Regardless, what Seyfried describes here most certainly comes across quite clearly in Mank and Marion’s final scene together. Mank vehemently denies that Susan Alexander Kane was meant to be Davies, but that’s not Marion’s top concern anyway. She’s worried about the screenplay kicking Hearst while he’s down. We all know where things ultimately land, but when Mank tells her, “I hope, if this gets made, you’ll forgive me,” and she replies, “And I hope, if it doesn’t, you’ll forgive me,” before cementing the sentiments with a cheers, as a viewer, I very much believed them.
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