Ben Hecht was an American screenwriter, director, producer, playwright, and novelist. Called the Shakespeare of Hollywood, he received screen credits, alone or in collaboration, for the stories or screenplays of some 70 films and as a prolific storyteller, authored 35 books and created some of the most entertaining screenplays and plays in America. Film historian Richard Corliss called him the Hollywood screenwriter, someone who personified Hollywood itself. The Dictionary of Literary Biography - American Screenwriters calls him one of the most successful screenwriters in the history of motion pictures.
He was the first screenwriter to receive an Academy Award for Original Screenplay, for the movie Underworld (1927). The number of screenplays he wrote or worked on that are now considered classics is, according to Chicagos Newberry Library, astounding, and included films such as, 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 (released posthumously, in 1967). He also provided story ideas for such films as Stagecoach (1939). In 1940, he wrote, produced, and directed, Angels Over Broadway, which was nominated for Best Screenplay. In total, six of his movie screenplays were nominated for Academy Awards, with two winning.
He could produce a screenplay in two weeks and, according to his autobiography, never spent more than eight weeks on a script. Yet he was still able to produce mostly rich, well-plotted, and witty screenplays.