Benn Levy

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Benn Wolfe Levy[1] (7 March 1900 – 7 December 1973) was a Labour Party Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and a successful playwright. He was educated at Repton School and University College, Oxford and served in uniform in both World Wars.

Playwright and parliamentarian[edit]

Before entering politics, Levy was a successful playwright who also wrote screenplays. The best known of his screenplays was written in collaboration with R. C. Sherriff for James Whale's macabre horror film The Old Dark House (1932) based on the novel Benighted (1927) by J. B. Priestley. Earlier he had been the dialogue writer for Blackmail (1929); directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it was the first British sound film. Levy directed one film, Lord Camber's Ladies (1932), which was the only film produced by Hitchcock which he did not himself direct.

Levy was first elected at the 1945 general election, for the Eton and Slough constituency, and stood down at the 1950 general election. Politically, Levy was on the left of the Labour Party and was an active member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament). As a sympathiser with the Zionist movement, he also opposed Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin over Bevin's policies towards Palestine and Israel.

As an MP, Levy made an unsuccessful effort to abolish theatrical censorship in Britain, and towards the end of his life, he was the principal author of a report opposing the arguments for censorship made by Francis Aungier Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford. He was married for more than 40 years to the American-born screen and stage actress Constance Cummings; they had one daughter and one son.

Levy's papers are held at the University of Sussex library.[2]



Plays written by Levy:[3][4]

  • This Woman Business - 1925
  • Mud and Treacle - 1928
  • A Man with Red Hair - 1928
  • Mrs Moonlight - 1928
  • Art and Mrs Bottle - 1929
  • Topaz - 1930
  • Ever Green - 1930
  • Springtime for Henry - 1931
  • Hollywood Holiday - with John van Druten, 1931
  • The Devil Passes - 1932
  • Young Madame Conti - with Hubert Griffiths, 1936
  • Madame Bovary - 1937
  • If I Were You - 1938
  • The Jealous God - 1939
  • Clutterbuck - 1946
  • Rape of the Belt - 1957

Selected filmography[edit]




External links[edit]

Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Eton and Slough
Succeeded by
Fenner Brockway