Meet Ben Hecht, Wisecracking Jewish Hero

February 28th marks the 119th birthday of Ben Hecht, the wisecracking genius who invented the screwball comedy and gangster movie, and who raucously upheld the honor of American Jews in WWII. Blasted into history from a more colorful age, Hecht began his career as a circus acrobat and virtuoso violinist, then seamlessly morphed into Chicago's star crime reporter and the most successful screenwriter in Hollywood history. I love Hecht for the feast of intelligent entertainment he seemed to effortlessly concoct, from Hitchcock masterpieces like Notorious and Spellbound to Scarface, The Front Page, and the uncredited script of Gone With the Wind. But I adore Ben Hecht for the incorruptible courage with which he championed the dying Jews of Europe, appalling his fancy Hollywood and New York Jewish friends with his outré chutzpah. Hecht throbbed with fury at the Germans' murder of "a whole continent" of Jews. His heart, he wrote, "has not wept at all. It has felt only outrage. I doubt if...(Read Full Article)

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