Charles Bennett (screenwriter)

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Charles Bennett (2 August 1899 – 15 June 1995) was an English playwright, screenwriter and director probably best known for his work with Alfred Hitchcock.

Biography[edit]

Born in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, England, Bennett served in World War I and worked as an actor on stage, notably for Ben Greet's Shakesperean Company. He worked for them for two years in Paris, from 1925 to 1926, where he write his first play The Return. He enjoyed a major success with his play Blackmail (1929), which was performed on stage by Tallulah Bankhead in 1928 and filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1929; the latter is generally credited as the first British sound film. The Last Hour was another popular Bennett play turned into a movie.

He was under contract to British International from 1930 to 1931 and worked for a number of other producers such as George King. His association with Hitchcock continued into the 1930s, with Bennett writing some of the latter's most famous British films—The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), Secret Agent (1936), Sabotage (1936), and Young and Innocent (1937).

His work with Hitchcock attracted the attention of Hollywood; and, in 1938, Bennett accepted a contract with Universal Studios at $1,000 a week. He stayed with the Universal for six months.[1]

World War Two[edit]

Bennett later worked with Hitchcock on his second American film, Foreign Correspondent (1940). He worked for a number of other high profile filmmakers including David O. Selznick and Cecil B. de Mille. During the war he wrote propaganda films for the British Ministry of Information.[2]

Director[edit]

Bennett stayed in Hollywood, writing many screenplays such as 'Ivy. He attempted to remake Blackmail[3] but was unsuccessful.

He directed two films, Madness of the Heart (1949) and No Escape (1953).

Later Career[edit]

He later worked in American television on such series as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wild Wild West and Land of the Giants. He also co-wrote, with Anthony Ellis, the first adaptation of a James Bond novel, the 1954 television production of Casino Royale. However, the best received of Bennett's later films was an adaptation of M. R. James's Casting the Runes, entitled Night of the Demon and directed by Jacques Tourneur in 1957.

His last film was also directed by Tourneur in 1965, called The City Under the Sea and starred Vincent Price.

In 1990 Bennett was hired to write a remake of Blackmail.[4][5] The film was never made.

Personal Life[edit]

Bennett's brother hanged himself in 1928.[6]

Bennett died in Los Angeles in 1995.[7]

Selected filmography[edit]

Plays[edit]

  • The Return (1925)
  • Blackmail (1928)
  • The Last Hour (1928)
  • Sensation
  • Big Business
  • Midnight
  • The Danger Line
  • Page from a Diary

References[edit]

  1. ^ McGilligan p 33
  2. ^ Leeside Shippey, Lee. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 15 Nov 1945: A4.
  3. ^ DRAMA AND FILM: Metropolitan Opera Plans Cinema Career Schallert, Edwin. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 19 Nov 1947: A11.
  4. ^ The corpse who wasn't dead is turning out a new screenplay at 91 o A director explores the dark side of a writer's imagination. Lawrence Van Gelder. New York Times (1923-Current file) [New York, N.Y] 30 Nov 1990: C8.
  5. ^ Now, Here's a Real Comeback: At 91, Charles Bennett is co-writing the remake of a movie he made with Alfred Hitchcock in 1929 BROESKE, PAT H. Los Angeles Times (1923-Current File) [Los Angeles, Calif] 30 Sep 1990: N6.
  6. ^ YOUNG STAGE DIRECTOR FOUND HANGED: "No Worries." The Manchester Guardian (1901-1959) [Manchester (UK)] 13 Aug 1928: 6
  7. ^ The man who knew too much Bergan, Ronald. The Guardian (1959-2003) [London (UK)] 19 June 1995: 14.
  • McGillian, Patrick "Charles Bennett", Backstory 1

External links[edit]