Books: They Made the Pictures Talk

BEN HECHT: THE MAN BEHIND THE LEGEND by William MacAdams

Scribner's; 366 pages; $24.95

MADCAP: THE LIFE OF PRESTON STURGES by Donald Spoto

Little, Brown; 301 pages; $19.95

Ben Hecht was lounging between careers -- he had written seven novels and two Broadway plays and was now dead broke -- when in 1926 he received a telegram from his pal Herman J. Mankiewicz, then a Hollywood scriptwriter. "Will you accept three hundred per week to work for Paramount Pictures?" the wire read. "The three hundred is peanuts. Millions are to be grabbed out here and your only competition is idiots." Then...

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