On a bed, Mank dictates his script to Rita, who is sitting infront of him. Then he takes up a swatter, he takes casual aim at a housefly. He asks her to fetch a cup of tea, so she gets up to get their tea. She returns with cups and asks him about Marion Davies:

Rita: What's she like?

Mank: Why is it when you scratch a prim, starchy English schoolgirl, you get a swooning moving-picture fan who has forgotten all she ever learned about the Battle of Hastings?

Rita: Hastings. 14 October 1066, ten centigrade.

Why did Mank ask such question here?

1 Answer 1


It's a rhetorical question, he's not really looking for her to answer, he's making a point.

What he is saying is that despite her English upbringing Rita is still someone who is as star-struck as any American fangirl.

All it takes is the slightest opportunity and the very proper English woman still wants to know about the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Her response is to reel off little known facts about the Battle of Hastings in an attempt to prove him wrong.

  • 1066 isn't that "little known" (it is one of the two genuine dates in English history after all)
    – James K
    Oct 26, 2021 at 13:04
  • 1066 is well known...did you know the day & month? I didn't.
    – Paulie_D
    Oct 26, 2021 at 14:25
  • I did, but then I do live in Sussex.
    – James K
    Oct 26, 2021 at 21:08

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