Andrew James Hartley
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(Un)American identities
Mankiewicz (1953)
in Julius Caesar
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John Houseman believed that Herman Mankiewicz should have been considered the primary writer, instead of sharing writing credits with Orson Welles as appeared in the billing. One of the MGM pictures paired John Houseman with Herman Mankiewicz's younger brother Joseph as director, and returned him to Shakespeare's Caesar. Shakespeare's play becomes a forum for a consideration of an ethics of American identity. The film's American affect was emphasised by moments like the battle scenes, which were filmed to resemble contemporary Westerns and shot on location at Bronson Canyon. MGM had dominated the 1930s box office but had struggled to draw audiences after the war as television kept people at home. On Mankiewicz's return to Hollywood, B. DeMille engineered another open ballot calling for his dismissal, a ballot permitting only a 'yes' verdict, which was forcibly hand-delivered by motorcycle couriers during the night to the entire membership.

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