Talking Ben Hecht

Film · Language & ideas · Reviews
One of the greatest American screenwriters, Ben Hecht was a renaissance man of dazzling sorts—reporter, novelist, playwright, crusader for the imperiled Jews of Hitler’s Europe, and propagandist for pre-1948 Palestine’s Jewish terrorist underground. He was also a balletomane and auteur (wrote, produced and directed) the ballet-noir, Specter of the Rose (1946). Whatever the outrage he ...

Ivan Kirov, the dancing star of “Specter of the Rose”

Dance · Film
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“I’m no good. I’m just some muscles that can dance. The rest of me is rubbish — broken glass and rubbish.” So self-describes the lead character, Andre Sanine, of “Specter of the Rose” (1946, Republic Pictures). He’s mouthing writer-producer-director Ben Hecht’s lurid and kitsch-adjacent movie dialogue. Hecht created “Specter” in a couple of weeks, for ...

Specter of Nijinsky haunts Republic Pictures’ “Specter of the Rose”

Dance · Film
The photo captures the marvelous opening scene of “Specter of the Rose,” a ballet movie from 1946 and a precious artifact of high-Hollywood dance-schmaltz. Dame Judith Anderson, seated at left, knitting, plays “Madam La Sylph,” the ballet mistress whom Ben Hecht, in his at-once overheated and acerbic screenplay, refers to as “the remains of a ...