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Michael Mann (director)

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Title: Michael Mann (director)  
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Michael Mann (director)

Michael Mann
Mann at the 2014 Comic-Con International.
Born Michael Kenneth Mann
(1943-02-05) February 5, 1943
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Residence Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Nationality American
Other names Michael K. Mann
Alma mater University of Wisconsin-Madison
Years active 1971–present
Home town Chicago, Illinois
Spouse(s) Summer Mann (1974–present; 4 children)
Awards BAFTA Award for Best Film
2005 The Aviator
NBR Award for Best Director
2004 Collateral
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries
1990 Drug Wars: The Camarena Story
Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or a Special
1979 The Jericho Mile

Michael Kenneth Mann (born February 5, 1943) is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer. For his work, he has received nominations from international organizations and juries, including those at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Cannes and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His major films include Heat, The Insider, Collateral, Ali and The Last of the Mohicans.

Total Film ranked Mann No. 28 on their 100 The Greatest Directors Ever,[1] [2] and Entertainment Weekly ranked Mann No. 8 on their 25 Greatest Active Film Directors list.[3]

Early life and education

Mann was born on February 5, 1943 in Chicago, Illinois, of Jewish ancestry,[4] the son of grocers Esther and Jack Mann.[5][6]

He received a B.A. in English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison[7] where he developed interests in history, philosophy and architecture. It was at this time that he first saw Stanley Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove and fell in love with movies. In a recent L.A. Weekly interview, he describes the film's impact on him: "It said to my whole generation of filmmakers that you could make an individual statement of high integrity and have that film be successfully seen by a mass audience all at the same time. In other words, you didn’t have to be making Seven Brides for Seven Brothers if you wanted to work in the mainstream film industry, or be reduced to niche filmmaking if you wanted to be serious about cinema. So that's what Kubrick meant, aside from the fact that Strangelove was a revelation." His daughter Ami Canaan Mann is also a film director and producer.


Mann later moved to London in the mid 1960s to go to graduate school in cinema. He went on to receive a graduate degree at the London Film School. He spent seven years in the United Kingdom going to film school and then working on commercials along with contemporaries Alan Parker, Ridley Scott and Adrian Lyne. In 1968, footage he shot of the Paris student revolt for a documentary, Insurrection, aired on NBC's First Tuesday news program and he developed his '68 experiences into the short film Jaunpuri which won the Jury Prize at Cannes in 1970.

Mann returned to United States after divorcing his first wife in 1971. He went on to direct a road trip documentary, 17 Days Down the Line. Three years later, Hawaii Five-O veteran Robert Lewin gave Mann a shot and a crash course on television writing and story structure. Mann wrote four episodes of Starsky and Hutch (three in the first series and one in the second ) and the pilot episode for Vega$. Around this time, he worked on a show called Police Story with cop-turned-novelist Joseph Wambaugh. Police Story concentrated on the detailed realism of a real cop's life and taught Mann that first-hand research was essential to bring authenticity to his work.

His first feature movie was a television special called The Jericho Mile, which was released theatrically in Europe. It won the Emmy for best MOW in 1979 and the DGA Best Director award. His television work also includes being the executive producer on Miami Vice and Crime Story. Contrary to popular belief, he is not the creator of these shows but the executive producer and the showrunner. They were produced by his production company. However, his cinematic influence is felt throughout each show in terms of casting and style.

Mann is now known primarily as a feature film director and he is considered to be one of America's top filmmakers. He has a very distinctive style that is reflected in his works: his trademarks include unusual scores, such as Tangerine Dream in Thief or the new-age score to Manhunter. Dante Spinotti is a frequent cinematographer of Mann's pictures.

Mann's first cinema feature as director was Thief (1981) starring James Caan. His next film The Keep (1983) was, in retrospect, an uncharacteristic choice, being that it is a supernatural thriller set in Nazi-occupied Romania. Though it was a commercial flop, the film has since attained cult status amongst fans.

In 1986, Mann was the first to bring Thomas Harris's character of Hannibal Lecter to the screen with Manhunter, his adaptation of the novel Red Dragon, which starred Brian Cox as a more down-to-earth Hannibal. The story was remade less than 20 years after it came out by Brett Ratner presumably because Anthony Hopkins reprisal of the role in Ridley Scott's Hannibal had made the character a highly lucrative property. In an interview on the Manhunter DVD, star William Petersen comments that because Mann is so focused on his creations, it takes several years for Mann to complete a film; Petersen believes that this is why Mann does not make films very often.[8]

He gained widespread recognition in 1992 for his film adaptation of James Fenimore Cooper's book Last of the Mohicans. His biggest critical successes in the 1990s began with the release of Heat in 1995 and The Insider in 1999. The films, which featured Al Pacino along with Robert De Niro in Heat and Russell Crowe in The Insider, showcased Mann's cinematic style and adeptness at creating rich, complex storylines as well as directing actors. The Insider was nominated for seven Academy Awards as a result, including a nomination for Mann's direction.

With his next film Ali starring Will Smith in 2001, he started experimenting with digital cameras. The film helped catapult Will Smith to greater fame, and he was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance.

On Collateral, he shot all of the exterior scenes digitally so that he could achieve more depth and detail during the night scenes while shooting most of the interiors on film stock.

In 2004, Mann produced The Aviator, based on the life of Howard Hughes, which he had developed with Leonardo DiCaprio. However, Mann demurred doing a second biopic after Ali, directed Collateral starring Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx and offered the The Aviator director's chair to now-frequent DiCaprio collaborator Martin Scorsese. The Aviator was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Picture but lost to Million Dollar Baby.

After Collateral, Mann directed the film adaptation of Miami Vice which he also executive produced. It stars a completely new cast with Colin Farrell as Don Johnson's character Sonny Crockett, and Jamie Foxx filling Philip Michael Thomas' shoes.

Mann served as a producer and Peter Berg as director for The Kingdom and Hancock. Hancock stars Will Smith as a hard-drinking superhero who has fallen out of favor with the public and who begins to have a relationship with the wife (Charlize Theron) of a public relations expert (Jason Bateman), who is helping him to repair his image. Mann also makes a cameo appearance in the film as an executive. In the fall of 2007, Mann directed two commercials for Nike. The ad campaign "Leave Nothing" features football action scenes with current NFL players Shawne Merriman and Steven Jackson.[9]

In 2009, Mann wrote and directed Public Enemies for Universal Pictures, about the Depression-era crime wave, based on Brian Burrough's nonfiction book, Public Enemies: America's Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933–34. It starred Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.[10] Depp played John Dillinger in the film, and Bale played Melvin Purvis, the FBI agent in charge of capturing Dillinger.

In January 2010 it was reported by Variety that Mann, alongside David Milch, would serve as co-executive producer of new TV series Luck. The series was an hour-long HBO production, and Mann directed the series' pilot.[11] Although initially renewed for a second season after the airing of the pilot, it was eventually cancelled due to the death of three horses during production.

On February 14, 2013, it was announced that Mann has been developing an untitled Legendary Pictures with Chris Hemsworth attached to star.[12]

In May 2013, Mann started the filming of Blackhat in Los Angeles, Kuala Lumpur, Hong Kong and Jakarta.[13]

Filming style

Mann's films often contain one to four deadpan male protagonists who are expert in some profession(legal or non-legal). Importantly, his films often involve a tragic rather than happy ending, or they involve a combination of tragedy and happy ending, such as in Miami Vice, when of the two undercover police officers, one has his girlfriend (also an undercover officer) come out of a coma and the other tearfully separates from his romantic interest. Mann's films contain fast-paced, artful scenes that strongly depend on powerful music, where often two opposing sides intermix, such as undercover policework and undercover drug trafficking, so that it is hard to distinguish between the two. For example, in Heat, the criminal and the police detective meet for coffee, as if old business partners. Often it is hard to distinguish between opposing sides (police vs. criminals, etc.), where the actions, dress, and mannerisms of the characters are extremely similar. Also, Mann's work often involves landscapes and modes where the heroic protagonists occupy a somewhat secret world, away from ordinary concerns (law, life and death, money, daily-life survival duties, family duties, and so on), where the secret world may or may not coincide with ordinary reality. Protagonists often find impassioned romantic interests which are severed under tragic situations near the end of the film (Last of the Mohicans, Heat, Collateral, Miami Vice, Public Enemies). Overall, Mann's films mix artistry (via music, stylishness and emotional intensity) with sexuality, strong violence, humorless noir-like stoicism, and complex plot twists.


Mann directed the 2002 "Lucky Star" advertisement for Mercedes-Benz, which took the form of a film trailer for a purported thriller featuring Benicio del Toro. Mann also directed the 2008 promotional video for Ferrari's California sports car. In 2009 Mann also directed a commercial for Nike that featured several stylistic cues, most notably the use of "Promontory" from the soundtrack of The Last of the Mohicans.


Feature films

Year Title Credited as
Director Screenwriter Producer
1981 Thief Yes Yes
1983 The Keep Yes Yes
1986 Manhunter Yes Yes
Band of the Hand Yes
1992 The Last of the Mohicans Yes Yes Yes
1995 Heat Yes Yes Yes
1999 The Insider Yes Yes Yes
2001 Ali Yes Yes Yes
2004 Collateral Yes Yes
The Aviator Yes
2006 Miami Vice Yes Yes Yes
2007 The Kingdom Yes
2008 Hancock Yes
2009 Public Enemies Yes Yes Yes
2011 Texas Killing Fields Yes
2015 Blackhat Yes Yes Yes


Year Title Credited as Notes
Director Screenwriter Producer
1976 Bronk Yes
Gibbsville Yes
1975–1977 Starsky and Hutch Yes
1976–1978 Police Story Yes
1977 Police Woman Yes Episode directed:
“The Buttercup Killer”
1979 The Jericho Mile Yes Yes television film (teleplay)
1980 Swan Song Yes TV film
1978–1981 Vega$ Yes creator
1984–1990 Miami Vice Yes Yes executive producer
Episode written:
"Golden Triangle"
1986–1988 Crime Story Yes Yes executive producer
Episode directed:
“Top of the World” (1987)
1989 L.A. Takedown Yes Yes Yes TV film, executive producer
1990 Drug Wars: The Camarena Story Yes Yes TV mini-series
1992 Drug Wars: The Cocaine Cartel Yes Yes TV film, executive producer
2002–2003 Robbery Homicide Division Yes Yes executive producer
2011–2012 Luck Yes Yes executive producer
Episode directed: “Pilot” (2011)


Critical reception

Film Rotten Tomatoes Metacritic
Thief 95%[14] N/A
The Keep 20%[15] N/A
Manhunter 94%[16] 78[17]
The Last of the Mohicans 97%[18] N/A
Heat 86%[19] 76[20]
The Insider 96%[21] 84[22]
Ali 67%[23] 65[24]
Collateral 86%[25] 71[26]
Miami Vice 47%[27] 65[28]
Public Enemies 68%[29] 70[30]
Average 75.6% 72.7

Awards and honors

Mann received an Emmy in 1979 for Outstanding Writing in a Limited Series or a Special for The Jericho Mile. The following year he was honored by the Directors Guild of America for Outstanding Directorial Achievement for The Jericho Mile. In 1990, he won another Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries for Drug Wars: The Camarena Story. Mann was the recipient of the Humanitas Prize and the Writers Guild of America's Paul Selvin Award in 2000 for The Insider. In 2005, he received the BAFTA Film Award for co-producing The Aviator.

To date he has received four Academy Award nominations: in 2000, the Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Director and Best Motion Picture of the Year all for The Insider, in 2005 Mann received nomination for production of Scorsese's The Aviator.



  1. ^ "The Greatest Directors Ever". Total Film. August 20, 2007. Retrieved May 20, 2008. 
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ "25 Greatest Active Film Directors".  
  4. ^ Brooks, Xan (February 13, 2002). "Ali likes the film a lot. He's seen it six times". The Guardian (London). Retrieved May 12, 2010. 
  5. ^ Michael Mann Biography (1943–)
  6. ^ Michael Mann Biography |
  7. ^ Wildermuth, p. 2
  8. ^ Inside Manhunter: Interviews with stars William Petersen, Joan Allen, Brian Cox, and Tom Noonan
  9. ^ Atkinson, Claire (October 27, 2007). "Sure, He can Direct Movies, but Can He Do Commercials?". New York Times. Retrieved September 9, 2008. 
  10. ^ Garrett, Diane (December 5, 2007). "Public"Johnny Depp goes .  
  11. ^ Fleming, Michael (January 5, 2010). with HBO"Luck"Mann, Milch in .  
  12. ^ Kroll, Justin (February 14, 2013). "Mann, Hemsworth team for Legendary thriller".  
  13. ^ (2015) - Filming Locations -"Cyber".  
  14. ^ – Rotten Tomatoes"Thief". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  15. ^ – Rotten Tomatoes"The Keep". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  16. ^ – Rotten Tomatoes"Manhunter". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  17. ^ "Manhunter Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  18. ^ – Rotten Tomatoes"The Last of the Mohicans". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  19. ^ – Rotten Tomatoes"Heat". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  20. ^ "Heat Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  21. ^ – Rotten Tomatoes"The Insider". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  22. ^ "The Insider Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  23. ^ – Rotten Tomatoes"Ali". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  24. ^ "Ali Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  25. ^ – Rotten Tomatoes"Collateral". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  26. ^ "Collateral Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  27. ^ – Rotten Tomatoes"Miami Vice". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  28. ^ "Miami Vice Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  29. ^ – Rotten Tomatoes"Public Enemies". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 20, 2012. 
  30. ^ "Public Enemies Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Retrieved March 20, 2012. 


  • Wildermuth, Mark E. (2005). Blood in the Moonlight: Michael Mann and Information Age Cinema (Paperback Ed.). Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland Company and Inc. ISBN 978-0-7864-2059-9.
  • F. X. Feeney, Paul Duncan (2006). Michael Mann (Hardcover Ed.) Taschen. ISBN 978-3822831410.


  • Entertainment Weekly: Part I Part II
  • L.A. Weekly
  • DGA magazine
  • Salon
  • Sight and Sound"Paint It Black" –

External links

  • Michael Mann at the Internet Movie Database
  • Senses of Cinema: Great Directors Critical Database
  • Salon profile
  • extensive Mann profile (in French)
  • – Mann's Top 10 All-Time Favorite FilmsSight & Sound
  • Literature on Michael Mann
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