Ben Barzman

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Ben Barzman (October 12, 1910 – December 15, 1989) was a Canadian journalist, screenwriter, and novelist, blacklisted during the McCarthy Era and best known for his screenplays for the films Back to Bataan (1945), El Cid (1961), and The Blue Max (1966).[1]

Career[edit]

He was born in Toronto, Ontario. He was the screenwriter or co-writer of more than 20 films, from You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith (1943) to The Head of Normande St. Onge (1975).

Blacklisting[edit]

No Credit on Movie Z
Ben's work on L'attentat probably led Constantin Costa-Gavras and Jacques Perrin to send Ben the screenplay for Z. I had read the book and thought it was terrific. Ben and I read the screenplay and thought it was awful. Jacques, who was producing, and Costa came to Mougins. Ben told them what he thought was wrong with it. They asked his advice. Ben came up to the bedroom to ask me what he should tell them. I said that they should just go back to the book, which was wonderful. He told them that. They threw out their screenplay. Ben did an adaptation that followed the documentary nature of the book. Jorge Semprún rewrote and took a sole credit. Nevertheless, Ben helped them make a deal with the Algerians, permitting the movie to be shown there.[2][3]

Norma Barzman

Like many of his colleagues in the movie business, Barzman was blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee.[1]

Norma Barzman, at least, was a CPUSA member during 1943-1949. In 2014, she told the Los Angeles Times, "one should be proud to have been a member of the American Communist Party during those years. Hitler was invading the Soviet Union, so there was no reason to be anti-Russian, they were our allies."[4]

The couple moved to England so Barzman could work on the film Give Us This Day (aka, Christ in Concrete, 1949).[1] Following his return to the United States after directing Give Us This Day, Edward Dmytryk, one of the Hollywood Ten, testified about the Barzmans to HUAC in 1951. "To get out of prison he named us and a lot of other people," said Norma Barzman in 2014.[4] In the 1950s, the family moved to Paris, where friends included Pablo Picasso, Yves Montand, and Simone Signoret,[4] and later southern France).[1] Barzman did not receive credit for some films because of the Hollywood Blacklist.[1]

His U.S. citizenship was revoked from 1954 to 1963.[1] His wife Norma had her passport revoked from 1951 for seven years.[4] The family remained abroad until 1976, during which time he wrote his novels and screenplays for French and Italian films.[1]

Death[edit]

Barzman died in Santa Monica, California, United States.[1]

Surviving him was his wife, Norma Barzman, and seven children (including director Paolo Barzman, screenwriter Aaron Barzman, visual artist Luli Barzman, and French university professor John Barzman) and five grandchildren.[1]

Work[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Bibliography[edit]

In 1960, Barzman emerged as a science fiction author, with his novel Out of This World. It dealt with the idea of a twin, parallel planet for Earth in the same orbit, hidden from our view by the sun. The two planets have developed almost identically from creation—but World War II never happens on the twin Earth.

  • Out of This World (London: Collins, 1960) - published in the U.S. as Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star (G.P. Putnam's Sons) and subsequently in various paperback editions as Echo X; also published in Sweden as Från en annan värld
  • Rich Dreams (Warner Books, 1982) - novel, written with Norma Barzman; published as a paperback original

Awards[edit]

  • 1985: Order of Arts and Letters

Legacy[edit]

In addition to having several children follow him in the Arts, he received a retrospecitve showing of his films at the Cinematheque in 1982.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j "Ben Barzman Dead; Scriptwriter Was 79". New York Times. 21 December 1989. Retrieved 19 September 2015. 
  2. ^ Buhle, Paul; Patrick McGilligan, eds. (1997). Tender Comrades. St Martins. pp. 24–25. 
  3. ^ a b "Tender Comrades: Interviews with blacklisted Hollywoo". Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist. Retrieved 27 September 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c d King, Susan (13 July 2014). "Blacklisted writer Norma Barzman to kick off UCLA film series". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 20 September 2015. 

External sources[edit]