Charles Bennett

Active - 1929 - 1992  |   Born - Aug 2, 1899 in Stoneham-by-Sea, England, UK  |   Died - Jun 27, 1995 in Beverly Hills, CA  |   Genres - Drama, Thriller, Adventure, Crime, Mystery

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An actor both before and after World War I, Briton Charles Bennett was a name-above-the-title stage star throughout the 1920s. "It was enough artistically, but it wasn't enough financially," he would later explain, "So I sort of gradually began to write plays." Bennett eased into scriptwriting just as gradually when his play Blackmail was filmed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1929. He remained a prime Hitchcock collaborator throughout the '30s, although what he wrote wasn't always what showed up onscreen. For example, Bennett's Bulldog Drummond's Baby was transformed by the legendary director into The Man Who Knew too Much (1934), minus the Bulldog Drummond character. Still, it was Bennett who contributed most of the little dramatic grace-notes which grew to be considered "Hitchcock touches," even if latter-day film historians tended to ignore Bennett, assuming that Hitchcock alone was responsible for the success of his films. Looking back on his long career in the mid-'80s, the writer regarded his Hitchcock years with less affection than he did his long association with Cecil B. DeMille. (DeMille reportedly wasn't keen on the screenplay for Reap the Wild Wind [1942] until Bennett read the script out loud, playing all the parts -- including Paulette Goddard's character). Bennett's last major writer/director collaboration was with Master of Disaster Irwin Allen in the late '50s and early '60s. In addition to his numerous screenwriting credits, Bennett directed two feature films (Madness of the Heart [1949] and No Escape [, aka City on a Hunt [1952]), and helmed several episodes of such TV series as The Count of Monte Cristo, Schlitz Playhouse of Stars, and The New Adventures of Charlie Chan. He was working on several projects right up until his death in 1995.

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