Sign for Honorary Ben Hecht Way, in front of Newberry Library which houses his papers

Hacks and Authors: Ben Hecht, the politique des auteurs and scriptwriting in classical Hollywood

Lunch discussion with Giaime Alonge
Tuesday, March 16, 2010 - 12:30pm

Introduction by Professor Rebecca West, Depts of Romance Languages and Literatures and Cinema and Media Studies

The politique des auteurs, in its worshipping of the director as a solitary genius, was intrinsically anti-screenwriter. So, it is no accident that when some film critics and scholars (Pauline Kael, Raising Kane, 1971; Richard Corliss, Talking Pictures, 1974), in the early 1970s started to focus on the role of the screenwriter, they took a strong anti-auteurist stance. The paradox is that in many books and essays about screenwriters and screenwriting, the “myth of the author” comes back in a new form, that of the writer as the “real” author (or, at least, as the main co-author) of the film. To which extent can we consider the screenwriter as an author, especially in a highly industrialized context such as that of classical Hollywood? The paper will try to answer this question using Ben Hecht’s career as a case study.

Giaime Alonge teaches Film History at the University of Turin (Italy) and at the Animation Department of the Scuola Nazionale di Cinema. His research areas are American cinema, film and history, and animation. In addition to his work on Ben Hecht, Alonge is also a screenwriter and novelist.

Co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures