Tuesday, February 28, 2017

2/28/1894 Stop the presses! Ben Hecht is born

February 28, 1894.  Ben Hecht was born on this date in New York City.  He was considered one of the greatest Hollywood screenwriters.  He actually won the first Oscar for screenwriting, with a crime movie called Underworld.  Looking back ninety years it seems like the most memorable thing about that flick is the nicknames of the characters: Weed, Rolls Royce, Feathers, Buck, and Slippy.  Four years later he wrote Scarface.

His greatest achievement related to the crime field may be The Front Page, a screwball comedy co-authored with Charles MacArthur, which was a Broadway hit and has been filmed three times, four if you count Switching Channels.  It is the story of Hildy Johnson, a reporter about to quit in favor or a respectable job, who meets an escaped convict, a man sentenced to be executed ondubious grounds.  Hildy needs help from his editor, a manipulator who will do anything to keep his star reporter on the job.

Hecht's many other credits include several Hitchcock movies.  Among the ones for which he received a screen credit: Notorious and Spellbound.


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