Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Ben Hecht: The Shakespeare of Hollywood

On this date in 1894, one of my favorite screenwriters of all time was born. Ben Hecht was also a director, producer, playwright and a novelist.

Ben was the first recipient of the Academy Award for Original Screenplay, for the movie Underworld (1927).

The screenplays he wrote or worked on (many times uncredited) include the following:

Scarface (1932), The Front Page, Twentieth Century (1934), Barbary Coast (1935), Nothing Sacred (1937), Some Like It Hot, Gone with the Wind, Gunga Din, Wuthering Heights (all 1939), His Girl Friday (1940), Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946), Monkey Business, A Farewell to Arms (1957), Mutiny on the Bounty (1962), and Casino Royale (1967; released after Hecht's death in 1964).

He also provided story ideas for such films as Stagecoach (1939). In 1940, he wrote, produced, and directed Angels Over Broadway.

Six of his movie screenplays were nominated for Academy Awards; two won.

My personal favorite is His Girl Friday. If you've never seen it, try to get it from your library (or watch it online at IMDb). The rapid-fire dialogue is extraordinary. As a police officer, I worked with the media for 16 years, so this movie is even more endearing to me. It's quite evident in this film that Mr. Hecht had an extensive background in journalism.

When Hecht was living in New York in 1926, he received a telegram from a screenwriter friend who had recently moved to L.A. "Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don't let this get around." He traveled to Hollywood, and began his career by writing the screenplay for Underworld, as the sound era had ended.

We know where that landed him!

Monday, February 27, 2012

The 2012 Academy Awards

I'm thrilled that Woody Allen won the Best Original Screenplay Academy Award for Midnight in Paris. I blogged about my admiration for the film on Women of Mystery in January.

How wonderful that Christopher Plummer finally gets to take home the Oscar. I loved his acceptance speech the most. Such class!

I'm glad I got to see The Artist, the Best Picture winner. I took my teenage daughter to see it ~ we absolutely loved it. After it ended, I asked her, "Well ~ what do you think for Best Picture? Midnight in Paris, Hugo, or The Artist?" since we had seen and loved all of them, and we knew it would be a tough decision. We were stumped.

A theatre patron on the way in as we were heading out asked if we liked it. Her hesitation, as I've heard from so many others, was that it was a "silent" film. We reassured her that she would enjoy it thoroughly. When you think about it, there is no other way to honor the silent film era but to make a silent film, and in black and white.

During the Oscar telecast, my husband keenly noticed a cameo of Jim Parsons, the extremely talented, multi-award-winning actor who portrays Dr. Sheldon Cooper on The Big Bang Theory, during an extremely brief video clip of the winning Best Original Song, "Man or Muppet." If you're a fan of the show, you'll love the video -- it's awesome.
Available for a limited time, you can watch the Oscar-winning "Best Animated Short Film," The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore

For a complete list of winners, click here.

Did you watch the Oscars? Did any of your favorites win? Didn't Angelina Jolie look ridiculous as she awkwardly stood with her right leg sticking out of the slit in her dress while presenting? It didn't take long for @AngiesRightLeg to pop up on Twitter (which currently has more than 13,000 followers).