Hitchcock's Partner in Suspense: The Life of Screenwriter Charles Bennett

Hitchcock's Partner in Suspense: The Life of Screenwriter Charles Bennett


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With a career that spanned from the silent era to the 1990s, British screenwriter Charles Bennett (1899—1995) lived an extraordinary life. His experiences as an actor, director, playwright, film and television writer, and novelist in both England and Hollywood left him with many amusing anecdotes, opinions about his craft, and impressions of the many famous people he knew. Among other things, Bennett was a decorated WWI hero, an eminent Shakespearean actor, and an Allied spy and propagandist during WWII, but he is best remembered for his commercially and critically acclaimed collaborations with directors Sir Alfred Hitchcock and Cecil B. DeMille.

The fruitful partnership began after Hitchcock adapted Bennett's play Blackmail (1929) as the first British sound film. Their partnership produced six thrillers: The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), The 39 Steps (1935), Sabotage (1936), Secret Agent (1936), Young and Innocent (1937), and Foreign Correspondent (1940). In this witty and intriguing book, Bennett discusses how their collaboration created such famous motifs as the "wrong man accused" device and the MacGuffin. He also takes readers behind the scenes with the Master of Suspense, offering his thoughts on the director's work, sense of humor, and personal life.

Featuring an introduction and additional biographical material from Bennett's son, editor John Charles Bennett, Hitchcock's Partner in Suspense is a richly detailed narrative of a remarkable yet often-overlooked figure in film history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813144498
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 04/29/2014
Series: Screen Classics
Pages: 328
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Charles Bennett (1899-1995) was an actor, playwright, screenwriter, and director. His numerous screenwriting credits include the films listed above as well as Reap the Wild Wind (1942), Forever and a Day (1943), The Story of Dr. Wassell (1944), Where Danger Lives (1950), and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1961).

John Charles Bennett teaches science at Saint Margaret's Episcopal School.

Table of Contents

To Charles at Eighty Robert Nathan vii

Preface John Charles Bennett ix

1 Sowing the Wind 1

2 Duty, Honour, Country 11

Excerpt: The Return

3 Shakespearean Actor 19

4 Keith Chesterton: My Most Unforgettable Character 23

Interlude: Magic in Montmartre (1925)

5 Sensation 33

Excerpt: Blackmail (the play)

6 Alfred Hitchcock and My Early Talkies 45

Excerpt: The Secret of the Loch

7 Alfred Hitchcock: A Strange and Bewildering Character 63

Interlude: A Study of the Bennett-Hitchcock Partnership John Chart Bennett

8 Cause for Alarm 83

Interlude: Mr. Shakespeare Comes to Hollywood

9 The British Film Colony and Errol Flynn 99

Interlude: The Spy at Split Rock

10 War in His Pocket 115

Interlude: Hitler Is Dead

11 A Secret Agent 131

Interlude: A Suave Villain

12 Unto the Breach 153

Interlude: The Problem of the Purloined Portable

13 A Foreign Correspondent 167

14 Unconquered 177

15 No Escape 185

Excerpt: Bewitched

16 Curtain Call 203

17 Where Danger Lives John Charles Bennett 209

18 The Avenger John Charles Bennett 223

Excerpt: Blow, Bugle, Blow

A Tribute 241

The Works of Charles Bennett 243

Charles Bennett's Awards and Distinctions 253

Notes 257

Suggestions for Further Research 261

Index 267

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