Ben Hecht: The Man Behind the Legend

William MacAdams, Author Scribner Book Company $24.95 (366p) ISBN 978-0-684-18980-2
Hecht (1893-1964) may be ``the most influential writer in the history of American movies,'' as MacAdams, a freelance journalist, claims, but this brisk biography, rich in Hollywood anecdotes, does not explain why. An ace crime reporter in gangland Chicago, Hecht took part in the city's literary renaissance, writing stories and novels that are now all but forgotten. Driven by debt and a taste for high living, the brash, voluble newspaperman transformed himself into Broadway playwright and Hollywood screenwriter. He wrote or worked on over 100 film scripts, among them Notorious , Gone with the Wind and A Farewell to Arms , becoming Hollywood's highest-paid scenarist but, to detractors, an ``aesthetic Babbitt.'' An early and outspoken opponent of the Nazi slaughter of Jews, Hecht later grew disillusioned with politics. This detailed yet strangely impersonal biography is studded with glimpses of Orson Welles, Carl Sandburg, John Barrymore, Kurt Weill, David Selznick, Ring Lardner, many more. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1990
Release date: 01/01/1990
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 366 pages - 978-1-56980-028-7
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