I wonder what he would have made of the Internet?
Let’s roll it back a little. Mr. Hecht started as a Chicago journalist, he was lured to Hollywood by easy money, as related in his autobiography:
The telegram he delivered on this spring day in 1925 came from the unknown Scythian wastes of Hollywood, Calif. It read, ‘Will you accept three hundred per week to work for Paramount Pictures. All expenses paid. The three hundred is peanuts. Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots. Don’t let this get around.”
And another tidbit from his book, “A Child of the Century.”
The movies are one of the bad habits that corrupted our century. Of the many sins, I offer as the worst their effect on the intellectual side of the nation. It is chiefly from that viewpoint I write of them—as an eruption of trash that has lamed the American mind and retarded Americans from becoming a cultured people.
Coming from a guy who wrote “Scarface” and “The Front Page” I find this a little hard to swallow, especially considering he wrote his autobiography shortly after the end of WWII, and the corruption of the century was much more malignant than—at times, granted—mindless entertainment.
Maybe he and Selznick hit a point where their disillusionment fed on each others notions about a dying art form… Or maybe they just turned into grumpy old men. Dunno. Here they are, looking pretty damn happy to be corrupting the minds of millions on the set of A Farewell to Arms, in 1957: