Wallace Smith illustrations for Ben Hecht’s Fantazius Mallare : A Mysterous Oath, 1922.
A novel of decadence and mystic existentialism, Fantazius Mallare is a story of a mad recluse—a genius sculptor and painter who is at war with reason. Rather than commit suicide, his doting madness dictates that he must revolt against all evidence of life that exists outside himself. He destroys all of his work and then seeks out a woman who will devote herself to his Omnipotence. What follows is a glorious trek into a horrifying enlightening insanity.
Fantazius Mallare considered himself mad because he was unable to behold in the meaningless gesturings of time, space and evolution a dramatic little pantomime adroitly centered about the routine of his existence. He was a silent looking man with black hair and an aquiline nose. His eyes were lifeless because they paid no homage to the world outside him.
On the set of ‘Notorious,’ Alfred Hitchcock sets up the shot –an incredible zoom-in from a high crane shot to an extreme close-up of a significant plot detail in Ingrid Bergman’s hand. Photos by the great photojournalist Robert Capa, who was romantically involved with Bergman at the time. –oldhollywood
Here’s a great analysis by Peter Bogdanovich (I could listen to him for hours):
What a great screenplay to study, read, learn, & absorb: Ben Hecht’s screenplay for ‘Notorious’ [pdf]. (NOTE: For educational purposes only)
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I didn’t pay much attention to the whistles and whoops, in fact, I didn’t quite hear them. I was full of a strange feeling, as if I were two people. One of them was Norma Jeane from the orphanage who belonged to nobody; the other was someone whose name I didn’t know. But I knew where she belonged; she belonged to the ocean and the sky and the whole world.
Best known as: The prolific Hollywood screenwriter who did The Front Page
Ben Hecht was a jack-of-all-trades writer who became famous as the go-to script guy in Hollywood during the 1930s and ‘40s, from The Front Page (1931) and Scarface (1932), to Wuthering Heights (1939), Notorious (1946) and Kiss of Death (1947). Born in New York City to Russian immigrants, Hecht spent his boyhood in Racine, Wisconsin and began his career as a journalist in Chicago. A celebrity reporter, he was also foreign correspondent (Berlin in 1919), columnist, short story writer, novelist, playwright and a co-founder of The Chicago Literary Times (1923-25). He went to New York City in 1925 to pursue literary ambitions, but was lured to Hollywood the next year by his pal Herman Mankiewicz (later the Oscar-winning writer of Citizen Kane). Hecht had a gift for plots and witty dialogue, and he famously cranked out successful scripts with ease, making a lot of money along the way – and publicly hating himself for it. Credited with over 70 films, it’s widely known Hecht was uncredited on just as many. He won the first-ever Oscar for writing 1927’s Undercover, and he won another Oscar for 1934’s The Scoundrel, a film he made as director and producer with long-time collaborator Charles MacArthur. (MacArthur was also Hecht’s collaborator on the play The Front Page, now a standard of the American stage and screen.) Other films Hecht worked on include Gone With the Wind (1939), Alfred Hitchcock’s Foreign Correspondent (1940) and Spellbound (1945), Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950), Monkey Business (1952), A Farewell to Arms (1957) and the early drafts of Casino Royale (1967). Hecht took his name off several films, sometimes because of artistic differences, but also because in the late 1940s he was aware his films would be banned in Britain because of his support of the creation of a Jewish state in British-controlled Palestine. His 1954 memoir is A Child of the Century.
Extra credit: Marilyn Monroe’s memoir, My Story, was actually written by Ben Hecht, something that wasn’t publicly acknowledged for four decades after his death… As a child in Wisconsin, Hecht was a violin prodigy and trapeze acrobat with his circus-owning landlords… The story on his first Oscar is that Hecht used it as a doorstop as a measure of its importance… The screenplay that earned him his first Oscar was written in a week (1926) and Hecht was paid $10,000. [x]
One evening a rich man said to me, “I’ll buy you a couple of real outfits, fur coats and all. And I’ll pay your rent in a nice apartment and give you an eating allowance. And you don’t even have to go to bed with me. All I ask is to take you out to cafes and parties and for you to act as if you were my girl. And I’ll say good night to you outside your door and never ask you to let me in. It’ll just be a make-believe affair. What do you say?” I answered him, “ I don’t like men with fancy schemes like you. I like straightforward wolves better. I know how to get along with them. But I’m always nervous with liars.” “What makes you think I’m lying?” he asked. “Because if you didn’t want me you wouldn’t try to buy me,” I said.