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Bennett, Charles (1899-1995)

Writer, Director

Main image of Bennett, Charles (1899-1995)

Perhaps Alfred Hitchcock's most influential collaborator during the 1930s, screenwriter Charles Bennett has only recently been given some credit for the wit, structure and tone of those beguiling entertainments that preceded the departure of both director and writer for Hollywood. He complained in later life that the director was ungenerous in acknowledging indebtedness.

Bennett first appeared on screen in John Halifax, Gentleman (d. George Pearson, 1915) and, after WW1 service, became well known as a playwright, his play providing the basis for Hitchcock's - and Britain's - first talkie, Blackmail (1929). Subsequent collaborations included The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934; he gets co-author credit on the 1955 version), The 39 Steps (1935), Secret Agent, Sabotage (1936) and Young and Innocent (1937).

He worked in Hollywood from 1938, on such films as Foreign Correspondent (US, d. Alfred Hitchcock, 1940), the neat 'Victorian' thriller Kind Lady (US, d. John Sturges, 1951) and the famous stinker, The Story of Mankind (US, d. Irwin Allen, 1957).

In 1949, he returned to England to direct Madness of the Heart (1949), a hothouse melodrama with Margaret Lockwood, but the rest of his career was spent in US films, except for co-screenwriting credits on Night of the Demon (1957) and The City Under the Sea (1965, UK/US), both for Jacques Tourneur.

Brian McFarlane, Encyclopedia of British Film

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Thumbnail image of 39 Steps, The (1935)39 Steps, The (1935)

Classic Hitchcock thriller about spies, secrets and Scotland

Thumbnail image of Blackmail (1929)Blackmail (1929)

Hitchcock thriller that was the first feature-length British sound film

Thumbnail image of King Solomon's Mines (1937)King Solomon's Mines (1937)

Empire adventure about the hunt for legendary African diamond mines

Thumbnail image of Madness of the Heart (1949)Madness of the Heart (1949)

Melodrama with Margaret Lockwood as a blind nun

Thumbnail image of Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1934)Man Who Knew Too Much, The (1934)

The original version of Hitchcock's classic man-on-the-run thriller

Thumbnail image of Night of the Demon (1957)Night of the Demon (1957)

Clever, subtle occult chiller by American director Jacques Tourneur

Thumbnail image of Sabotage (1936)Sabotage (1936)

Dark reworking of Conrad's 'The Secret Agent'

Thumbnail image of Secret Agent (1936)Secret Agent (1936)

Hitchcock thriller starring a young John Gielgud

Thumbnail image of Young and Innocent (1937)Young and Innocent (1937)

Hitchcock thriller about an innocent man suspected of murder

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Thumbnail image of Hitchcock, Alfred (1899-1980)Hitchcock, Alfred (1899-1980)

Director, Writer, Art Director, Actor