Though he never spent more than eight weeks on a script, Hecht succeeded in creating crackling dialogue and fast-talking characters. The French-Swiss film director Jean-Luc Godard called Hecht “a genius who invented 80 percent of what is used in Hollywood movies today.” Indeed, Hecht worked on nearly 200 films, sometimes without credit, including Gone with the Wind, Roman Holiday, A Farewell to Arms, The Front Page, Spellbound, Notorious, A Star Is Born, Wuthering Heights, Gunga Din, Stagecoach, Strangers on a Train, Duel in the Sun, and Scarface.
Born on New York City’s Lower East Side in 1893, Hecht moved at age 10 with his immigrant parents to Racine, WI. Following high school graduation, he headed for Chicago, where he became a brilliant newspaper reporter in the years before World War I. His journalistic experiences, especially in bars, brothels, and boarding houses, found expression in his classic stage play The Front Page, adapted later as a film.