Ben Hecht 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 70 films and as a prolific storyteller,
authored 35 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 Chicagos 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
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.
I highly recommend Hechts best book.
This is a high quality book of the original classic edition.
This is a freshly published edition of this culturally important
work, which is now, at last, again available to you.
Enjoy this classic work. These few paragraphs distill the
contents and give you a quick look inside:
An hour later he awoke and with a thrill of quixotic honesty
placed five dollars in the moist hand of the sleeping houri,
gathered his friend Keegan out of an adjoining room and emerged
once more into the world with a clear head, a body full of elated
memories and a laudable conviction that he had done wrong, but that
what happened yesterday was not a Pg 14] part of today and that a
man can grant himself absolution from sin as easily as he can lay
...They were proud of having a grip on themselves, by which they
meant of being able to allow their energies to evaporate
secretively instead of feeling inspired to harness them to
realities and run the risk of being hoisted body and soul out of
their shells into a maelstrom of uncertainties and hullabaloos.
...There was nothing to say that the process of evaporation had
ended and that there was left an animate husk called Howard Basine;
a husk that did not mourn at the knowledge of its emptiness but
that accepted instead with piety and gratitude the presence of
other husks, pleased and warmed to move among their empty
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