Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures

Pauline Kael called him “the greatest American screenwriter.” Jean-Luc Godard said he was “a genius” who “invented 80% of what is used in Hollywood movies today.” With credits that include Scarface, Twentieth Century and Notorious, novelist, reporter, and playwright Ben Hecht also emerged during WWII as an outspoken crusader for the imperiled Jews of Europe and later became a fierce propagandist for pre-1948 Palestine’s Jewish terrorist underground.

Adina Hoffman spoke with Phillip Lopate on February 12, 2019 at the Center for Jewish History about her new biography of this charismatic and contradictory figure, who came to embody much that defined America—especially Jewish America—in his time.

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