Comic Riffs is taking a moment to appreciate one of the more oft-unsung superpowers in Hollywood, and particularly the power of Tom Mankiewicz. If he had an ultimate identity among some comics fans, it was as...The Script Fixer.
Mankiewicz, who was descended from Hollywood filmmaking royalty -- his father wrote and directed such classics as "All About Eve," his uncle co-wrote "Citizen Kane" -- was a famed writer of '70s Bond films who also worked on the big-screen "Dragnet" and "Tales From the Crypt" and "Hart to Hart." But it was as a "creative consultant" that he lent his sure hand to "Gremlins" and "War Games" and, most supremely (cue the John Wiliams score) ...
"Superman" 1 and 2.
In his own words, Mankiewicz wrote the "final drafts" of the two Christopher Reeve films, which director Richard Donner shot nearly concurrently. Or perhaps more precisely, according to Hollywood lore, Mankiewicz was the one who largely improved and "de-camped" the Supes scripts, while still leaving in the cinematic winks and intentional laughs.
"Making 'Superman' was only possible because when Tom came in, he brought his sense of humor and brought those characters to life," Donner said in a statement about Mankiewicz, who died over the weekend in his native Los Angeles at age 68.
"A lot of people in this town have 'the gift of gab.' " Donner continued. "Tom's was unique; there was always a true emotional center."
For that, Mr. Mankiewicz, much of Superman Nation is eternally grateful and offers a farewell salute.