The 2020 David Fincher film “Mank,” about screenwriter Herman J. Mankiewicz and his story of writing the screenplay for “Citizen Kane,” is set in the 1930s and 1940s, against the Hollywood studio backdrop of that era. The film likewise shot around Southern California. The movie employs heavy use of CGI to maintain the period look, often taking portions of real locations and adding computer generated elements and different backgrounds altogether. Fincher himself described the process as being as labor-intensive as a Marvel movie. It makes it challenging at times to nail down specific locations, as the real life places in present day don’t always align with what is seen in the film.
One location that matches up very well is the ranch where Mank, played by Gary Oldman, spends much of the film writing “Citizen Kane.” The Kemper Campbell Ranch in Victorville, known at the time the film takes place as the Verde Ranch, is where these scenes were shot. The ranch is, in fact, also the actual location where the real Herman J. Mankiewicz wrote much of “Citizen Kane.” Today, the property is a private estate and cattle ranch. Due to the fact that there are full-time residents living at the ranch, they unfortunately do not offer tours to the public. However, they do offer guest rentals at the property. The guest rentals are currently only available at group rates, with a two night minimum, so it can be quite a costly stay, unless you have a larger party to help split the costs. Here is the area of the ranch featured most heavily in the film, where Mank stays.
LOCATION: 10 Kemper Campbell Ranch Rd, Victorville, CA 92395
Here is a closer look at the building. The door, stairs and courtyard are all featured throughout the course of the film, as it cuts between Mank writing in 1940 and various flashback scenes throughout the 1930s.
Here is a look at one of the roads leading to the ranch, which is also seen several times in the film.
Here are some additional views of the ranch and surrounding mountains.
In a flashback scene, Mank awakens at the Hearst Castle to screams coming from outside. Here things get more complicated to match up. In the film, it is made to appear the scenes shot at the real Hearst Castle, located in San Simeon (750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452). However, the scenes were actually shot at The Huntington Library, Art Museum and Botanical Gardens in San Marino. The southwest corner of the Huntington Art Gallery building served as the grounds of the Hearst Castle, with quite a bit of visual effects added to the shot, such as the Hearst towers and palm trees. The Huntington grounds are quite large, so we’ve provided GPS coordinates below of the exact spot.
LOCATION: 1151 Oxford Rd, San Marino, CA 91108 (GPS coordinates: 34.126274, -118.113582)
Mank follows the sound of the screams and discovers a film set, where Marion Davies, played by Amanda Seyfried, is performing a scene in which she is burned at the stake. This scene was also filmed at The Huntington Library, near the Australian Garden and Desert Garden, according to comments online. The film employs so many visual effects, adding mountains and open land, to the point that we were unable to match with certainty the exact spot the set was built.
In yet another scene at the Huntington Library, Marion walks with Mank to a fountain, where she asks him about which roles he feels she could play, which he tells her Dulcinea. The fountain can be found on the North Vista, with the GPS coordinates 34.128229, -118.113415. More visual effects were used in the scene, showing the Hearst Castle in the distance.
While at the Millennium Biltmore Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles, Mank sees Upton Sinclair giving a political speech. The hotel is one of the most frequently used locations in all of Los Angeles, having appeared in “Ghostbusters,” “Beverly Hills Cop,” “Independence Day,” “Fight Club” and countless more productions. The interior of the hotel also appears at the end of the film, when the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay is awarded.
LOCATION: 506 S Grand Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90071
Mank runs into his friend C.C. in front of Bullocks Wilshire, a famous art deco building on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles. Mank learns that MGM is hiring actors to play outspoken citizens against Upton Sinclair. Once a luxury department store, Bullocks Wilshire now operates as a law school. The building has also been featured in the films “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “The Aviator” and “Dunston Checks In,” the TV series “Moonlighting” and Areosmith’s music video for “Love in an Elevator,” in addition to many other productions.
LOCATION: 3050 Wilshire Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90010
After Mank tries to intervene in a potential suicide of his friend Shelly Metcalf, as he’s leaving, he drives over La Loma Bridge in Pasadena, with the Griffith Observatory visible in the distance. This is another visual effect. In reality, the Observatory is not visible from the bridge.
LOCATION: La Loma Bridge, 799 La Loma Rd, Pasadena, CA 91105