Ben Hecht  

From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia

Jump to: navigation, search

Related e

Wikipedia
Wiktionary
Shop


Featured:

Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Enlarge
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Ben Hecht (pronounced hekt), (February 28, 1894April 18, 1964), was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, and novelist. Called "the Shakespeare of Hollywood", who received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some 70 films and as a prolific storyteller, authored 35 books and created some of the most entertaining screenplays or plays in America. According to film historian Richard Corliss, he was "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 ever receive an Oscar for an original screenplay, for the movie Underworld, in 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 (1930), The Front Page, Twentieth Century (1934), Barbary Coast (1935), Stagecoach, 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 (posthumously, in 1967). In 1940, a film he produced, directed, and wrote, Angels Over Broadway, was nominated for Best Screenplay. Six of his movies overall were nominated for Academy Awards, with two winning.

It is estimated that of the seventy to ninety screenplays he wrote, many were written anonymously due to the British boycott of his work in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The boycott was a response to Hecht's active support of the Zionist movement in Palestine, 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.

On writing

"The writer is a definite human phenomenon. He is almost a type – as pugilists are a type. He may be a bad writer – an insipid one or a clumsy one – but there is a bug in him that keeps spinning yarns; and that bulges his brow a bit, narrows his jaws, weakens his eyes and gives him girl children instead of boys. Nobody but a writer can write. People who hang around writers for years – as producers did – who are much smarter and have much better taste, never learn to write...."--Ben Hecht




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Ben Hecht" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

Personal tools