Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ben Hecht wrote screenplays in two weeks

Ben Hecht
It is the birthday of writer Ben Hecht (1894), whose masterful screenplays like Scarface (1932), The Front Page (1934), Barbary Coast (1935), Gunga Din, Gone With the Wind, Some Like it Hot, Wuthering Heights (all 1939), His Girl Friday (1940), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), A Farewell to Arms, Monkey Business (1957), Muntiny on the Bounty (1962) and Casino Royale (1967) entertained America for decades. He was fast and prolific. He could write a screenplay in two weeks, never spent more than eight weeks on a script and may have produced as many as 90 of them (some under pseudonyms because his work was banned in Britain because of his political stance over Palestine.) Hecht was a war correspondent for the Chicago Daily News in Berlin during World War I. With fellow reporter Charles MacArthur, he wrote a stage play The Front Page (1928), which ran successfully on Broadway, and was produced as a film, then remade three times. The comedy film Gaily, Gaily (1969) is based on Hecht's autobiography, A Jew in Love (1931).

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