How Steven Soderbergh’s Only Complaint About ‘Mank’ Changed the Editing of a Key Scene

Soderbergh’s critique of the costume party set piece proved valuable to Fincher and editor Kirk Baxter.

Bill Desowitz
December 4, 2020
IndieWire

David Fincher pal Steven Soderbergh often consults on early cuts of his movies (including the friendly product placement of Soderbergh’s imported Singani 63 brandy in “Gone Girl”)  —  and “Mank” was no different. Turns out Soderbergh’s only complaint about the “Citizen Kane” biopic was the execution of the costume party set piece, where drunken screenwriter Herman J.  Mankiewicz (Gary Oldman) goes on a long tirade against Machiavellian publisher William Randolph Hearst (Charles Dance) in front of his Hollywood friends at San Simeon.

“Soderbergh came during an early assembly and he just didn’t get why Hearst was putting up with Mank’s shit,” said editor Kirk Baxter (two-time Oscar winner for “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” and “The Social Network”). “And David and I talked about that. I very much make a movie with David, for David, and I’m not exposed to too many people during the process. But I found that the criticism helped. It didn’t provide the answer, it just provided the question.”

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