Bogdanovich has sold the "Herman Mankiewicz was a talented hack" line to countless credulous journalists and film students over the years and supported the claim with a highly selective recounting of Mankiewiez's resume. With Oz back in such a big way, one of the films Bogdanovich omits is particularly relevant:
In February, 1938, he was assigned as the first of ten screenwriters to work on The Wizard of Oz. Three days after he started writing he handed in a seventeen-page treatment of what was later known as "the Kansas sequence". While Baum devoted less than a thousand words in his book to Kansas, Mankiewicz almost balanced the attention on Kansas to the section about Oz. He felt it was necessary to have the audience relate to Dorothy in a real world before transporting her to a magic one. By the end of the week he had finished writing fifty-six pages of the script and included instructions to film the scenes in Kansas in black and white. His goal, according to film historian Aljean Harmetz, was to "to capture in pictures what Baum had captured in words--the grey lifelessness of Kansas contrasted with the visual richness of Oz." He was not credited for his work on the film, however.There are, of course, many things that have to go right to produce a truly iconic film, but if you had to pick the one element that made the film work and made people remember it, you'd probably have to go with Mankiewicz's contribution.