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May 31, 2011 12:29 PM   Subscribe

Ben Hecht, arguably one of the greatest screenwriters in Hollywood history, started his career in the (sometimes literally) cutthroat world of Jazz Age journalism at the Chicago Daily News. Throughout 1921 he wrote a series of remarkable vignettes collectively titled the Thousand and One Afternoons in Chicago: stories of drifters, fops, and artists from Michigan Avenue to Chinatown, but most of all a fond portrait of the city itself. Collected in book form and gorgeously illustrated, the Thousand and One Afternoons are in the public domain and readily available online. Each story is four or five short pages in length, and goes great with coffee.
posted by theodolite (10 comments total) 38 users marked this as a favorite
Too bad Google did such a crappy job scanning it (missing pages etc) but typical. Here's a quality scan from Internet Archive, in color with marginalia (the FPP links to the Google scan mirrored at Internet Archive).
posted by stbalbach at 12:46 PM on May 31, 2011 [3 favorites]

Thanks, stbalbach. I meant to link that under "available" but accidentally grabbed the version of the Google scan instead.
posted by theodolite at 12:48 PM on May 31, 2011

It's also available at Project Gutenberg, minus the lovely Herman Rosse illustrations. Best story for my money is "The Thing in the Dark."

one of the greatest screenwriters in Hollywood history

Definitely. Scarface, Queen Christina, Twentieth Century, A Star Is Born, The Prisoner of Zenda, Angels with Dirty Faces, Stagecoach, Wuthering Heights, Gone with the Wind, His Girl Friday, The Shop Around the Corner, Foreign Correspondent, Lifeboat, Spellbound, Notorious, Some Like It Hot, Duel in the Sun, Rope, Guys and Dolls, The Man with the Golden Arm, Mutiny on the Bounty...credited or not, Hecht had a hand in all of them.
posted by Iridic at 1:11 PM on May 31, 2011 [1 favorite]

I can't wait for this. I love Hecht.
posted by OmieWise at 1:19 PM on May 31, 2011

My first introduction to Hecht was, as a Titanicphile, I ran across his scathing poem Master and Man, first published in the Chicago Journal three days after the disaster.
posted by pjern at 1:36 PM on May 31, 2011

Bizarre coincidence - I unintentionally had a mini-Ben Hecht film fest over the weekend, watching Nothing Sacred and Notorious. I'm a writer and usually pay close attention to credits. And I had heard of Hecht, of course. But I hadn't even realized until Sundaythat he'd written both those films and so many more.

Notorious is my favorite Hitchcock flick and one of my desert-island picks. Very mature storyline.

And the funniest line in Nothing Sacred - Lombard at the nightclub, after March speaks of her fame as a terminally ill woman: "Let's not talk shop."
posted by NorthernLite at 6:13 PM on May 31, 2011

For dessert: Hecht's Fantazius Mallare (a piece of fiction favored by intelligent bears). Cognoscenti may discern in the Second Drawing the inspiration for Don Maitz' cover illustration for Gene Wolfe's Citadel of the Autarch.
posted by 0rison at 6:44 PM on May 31, 2011

Thank you VERY much for this.
posted by timsteil at 8:33 PM on May 31, 2011

And over cigars and old port, the continuation of Mallare: The Kingdom of Evil.
That dedication at the beginning of Fantazius Mallare is one of the most powerful things I've read. (Unabashed gloat: I have first editions of both of these, one signed.)
posted by drhydro at 8:57 PM on May 31, 2011

Thanks for posting this.
posted by LobsterMitten at 12:39 PM on June 1, 2011

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