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Ben Hecht (February 28, 1894 – April 18, 1964) was a screenwriter, film director, producer, playwright and American novelist. Called “the Hollywood Shakespeare”, he received credits on the screen, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or scripts of some 70 films. As a prolific author, he wrote 35 books and created some of the most successful scripts or plays in the United States. According to film historian Richard Corliss, he was “the” Hollywood movie writer, someone who “epitomized Hollywood itself.” The Dictionary of Literary Biography – American Screenwriters calls him “one of the most successful film writers in the history of cinema.”
He was the first film scriptwriter to receive an Oscar Award for best original screenplay for the movie Underworld in 1927. According to the Newberry Library in Chicago, the film scripts written by Hecht or in which he collaborated, that are currently considered “classic” is “amazing”. This list includes such films as Scarface (1932), The Front Page, Twentieth Century (1934), Barbary Coast (1935), Diligence, Some Like It Hot, Gone with the Wind, Gunga Din, Wuthering Heights (1939) , His Girl Friday (1940), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), Monkey Business, Goodbye to Arms (1957), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962) and Casino Royale (posthumous, in 1967). In 1940, a film she wrote, produced and directed, Angels Over Broadway, was nominated for best screenplay at the Academy Awards. In total, six of his films have been nominated for Academy Awards, resulting in two of them winning.
It is estimated that many of the 70-90 film scripts he wrote were anonymous, due to the British boycott against his work in the late 1940s and early 1950s. The boycott was a response to the support active of Hecht to the Zionist movement in Palestine, coming to be called one of the supply ships to Palestine in honor of him, SS Ben Hecht.
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