Ben Hecht

Ben Hecht (/ˈhɛkt/ HEKT; 1894–1964) was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, and novelist. Called "the Shakespeare of Hollywood", he received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some seventy films and as a prolific storyteller, authored thirty-five books and created some of the most entertaining screenplays and plays in America. Film historian Richard Corliss called him "the" Hollywood screenwriter, someone who "personified Hollywood itself." The Dictionary of Literary Biography - American Screenwriters calls him "one of the most successful screenwriters in the history of motion pictures."

He was the first screenwriter to receive an Academy Award for Original Screenplay, for the movie Underworld (1927). The number of screenplays he wrote or worked on that are now considered classics is, according to Chicago's Newberry Library, "astounding," and included films such as, Scarface (1932), The Front Page, Twentieth Century (1934), Barbary Coast (1935), Nothing Sacred (1937), Some Like It Hot, Gone with the Wind, Gunga Din, Wuthering Heights, (all 1939), His Girl Friday (1940), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), Monkey Business, A Farewell to Arms (1957), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), and Casino Royale (released posthumously, in 1967). He also provided story ideas for such films as Stagecoach (1939). In 1940, he wrote, produced, and directed, Angels Over Broadway, which was nominated for Best Screenplay. In total, six of his movie screenplays were nominated for Academy Awards, with two winning.

He became an active Zionist shortly before the Holocaust began in Germany, and as a result wrote articles and plays about the plight of European Jews, such as, We Will Never Die in 1943 and A Flag is Born in 1946. Of his seventy to ninety screenplays, he wrote many anonymously to avoid the British boycott of his work in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The boycott was a response to Hecht's active support of paramilitary action against British forces in Palestine and sabotaging British property there (see below), during which time a supply ship to Palestine was named the S. S. Ben Hecht.

He could produce a screenplay in two weeks and, according to his autobiography, never spent more than eight weeks on a script. Yet he was still able to produce mostly rich, well-plotted, and witty screenplays. His scripts included virtually every movie genre: adventures, musicals, and impassioned romances, but ultimately, he was best known for two specific types of film: crime thrillers and screwball comedies. Despite his success, however, he disliked the effect that movies were having on the theater, American cultural standards, and on his own creativity.

Read more about Ben HechtEarly Years, Notable Screenplays, Academy Award Nominations, Screenplays, Books (partial List), Musical Contributions

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Herman J. Mankiewicz - Writer and Screenwriter - Success in Hollywood
... hard-drinking gambler, he hired men in his own image Ben Hecht, Bartlett Cormack, Edwin Justus Mayer, writers comfortable with the iconoclasm of big-city newsrooms who would ... called the 'Central Park West Voltaire' by Ben Hecht ... Shortly after his arrival on the West Coast, he sent a telegram to journalist-friend Ben Hecht in New York "Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots ...
Charles Lederer - Personal Life - Friendships - Ben Hecht
... close and lifelong friend of screenwriter Ben Hecht, with whom he had co-written numerous screenplays ... Hecht noted that Lederer was "half Jewish and half Irish," and soon after meeting him, wired Rose, his wife, "I have met a new friend ... him back to civilization with me." Hecht's 1963 autobiography, Gaily, Gaily, was dedicated, "For Charles Lederer, to read in his tub." Lederer was famed on both coasts as a ...
Ben Hecht - Musical Contributions
... In 1937, lyricist Hecht collaborated with composer Louis Armstrong on "Red Cap," a song about the hard life of a railway porter ... This may be Ben Hecht's only "popular" song, and it's a good one ... Uncle Sam Stands Up (1941) Hecht contributed the lyrics and poetry to this patriotic cantata for baritone solo, chorus, and orchestra by Ferde Grofe, written during the height of World War II ...
Pascal Covici - Other Works Published
1001 Afternoons in Chicago, Ben Hecht Broken Necks {More 1001 Afternoon}, Ben Hecht Fantazius Mallare, a Mysterious Oath, Ben Hecht Kingdom of Evil, Ben Hecht The ...
Charles Lederer - Screenwriting Career - Leading Screenplays
... His friendship with Hecht led to his being hired in 1931, when he was 20, to write additional dialogue for the film version of the 1928 play The Front Page ... In 1933, he made contributions to Hecht's screenplay for Topaze, along with many others, without being credited ... Comrade X (1940), written in collaboration with Ben Hecht and directed by King Vidor is the story an American in Russia (Clark Gable) who falls in love with a streetcar conductor (Hedy Lamarr) ...

Famous quotes by ben hecht:

    Hollywood held this double lure for me, tremendous sums of money for work that required no more effort than a game of pinochle.
    Ben Hecht (1893–1964)

    Much more frequent in Hollywood than the emergence of Cinderella is her sudden vanishing. At our party, even in those glowing days, the clock was always striking twelve for someone at the height of greatness; and there was never a prince to fetch her back to the happy scene.
    Ben Hecht (1893–1964)