Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures
Ben Hecht, a screenwriter, playwright, and novelist, was one of the inventors of modern film and yet today is virtually unknown among the general public. His list of screenwriting projects (credited and uncredited) is astounding: Scarface, Notorious, A Star Is Born, Stagecoach, The Shop Around the Corner, Foreign Correspondent, Duel in the Sun, Strangers on a Train, Roman Holiday, His Girl Friday, and dozens of others.
This beautifully written biography, which is promising during the sections about Hecht’s early life, leaves us wanting to know more about his Hollywood years. However, it provides lots of good information about his later life, when he adopted and championed Jewish causes. The emphasis is understandable given the series in which the biography appears, Yale University Press’s “Jewish Lives,” which includes biographies of some of America’s most compelling figures.