Charles Bennett (1899-1995) was a British playwright and screenwriter, probably best known for his work with Alfred Hitchcock.
Born Charles Alfred Selwyn Bennett in Shoreham-by-Sea, Sussex, he was the son of unmarried actress Lilian Langrishe Bennett.
Following the death of his older brother Frederick in 1915, he enlisted underage and served with the Royal Fusiliers during the First World War, fighting on the Somme.
Bennett worked as an actor and writer, before finding success as a playwright in the 1920s. His play Blackmail was turned into a film directed by Alfred Hitchcock in 1929, which is generally credited as the first British sound film.
His association with Hitchcock continued into the 1930s, with Bennett writing some of the latter's most famous British films - The Man Who Knew Too Much, The 39 Steps, Secret Agent, Sabotage and Young and Innocent.
Bennett left England in 1937 to work in Hollywood, and was reunited with Hitchcock on the director's second American film, Foreign Correspondent 1940. He stayed in California, writing many screenplays and directing two films, Madness of the Heart in 1949 and No Escape in 1953.
He later worked in American television on such series as Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, The Wild Wild West and Land of the Giants. However, the most famous of Bennett's later films was another British production, an adaptation of M.R. James's Casting the Runes, entitled Night of the Demon and directed by Jacques Tourneur in 1957.
He married Margaret Ellen Riddick in July 1930 but they later divorced in 1941. Bennett then married Betty Jo Riley in February 1947 and their son John Charles Bennett was born 23rd December 1947.
Bennett died in Los Angeles in 1995, aged 95.
His memoirs were eventually published in 2014 as Hitchcock's Partner in Suspense: The Life of Screenwriter Charles Bennett, edited by his son, John Charles.
- Blackmail (1929) - writer: original play
- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934) — writer: by
- The 39 Steps (1935) — cast: Second Passerby Near the Bus (uncredited)
- The 39 Steps (1935) — writer: adaptation
- Sabotage (1936) - writer: screen play
- Secret Agent (1936) — writer: screenplay
- Young and Innocent (1937) - writer: screenplay
- Foreign Correspondent (1940) - writer: screenplay
- The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956) - writer: original story
- Forever and a Day (1943) - writer
He has appeared in the following Hitchcockian documentaries...
- Hitchcock's Partner in Suspense: The Life of Screenwriter Charles Bennett (2014) edited by John Charles Bennett
- born Charles Alfred Selwyn Bennett 02/Aug/1899 in Shoreham-by-Sea, England
- baptised 24/Dec/1906 at St Barnabas, Acton Vale, Ealing
- son of Lilian Langrishe Bennett (b. 1863)
- brother of Frederick Massingbird Roger Bennett (b. 1895) and Thomas Vere Fane Bennett (b. 1902)
- died 15/Jun/1995 in Los Angeles, California
- married 1930 to actress Margaret Ellen Riddick (b. 1903) — divorced 1941
- married Feb/1947 to Betty Jo Riley (b. 1922)
- John Charles Bennett (b. 1947)
11-year-old living with his mother, two brothers and lodger George Walter Blunt (aged 49) at 24 Clifton Road South Norwood, Croydon, Surrey.
First World War
Notes & References
- Army service numbers 37432 & GS/76899
- Daughter of Charles Thomas Bennett (b. ~1831) and Jane Langrish Bennett (b. ~1841) née Stephens. Died 30/Jun/1930 [reg. Q3 1930 Holborn, London].
- Birth registered Q4 1895 Barton Regis, Gloucestershire. Likely married 1915 to Dorothy Frances Battershall (b. ~1894). Died 1915 [reg. Q1 1915 Fulham]. Very likely Gunner Frederick Bennett killed in action on 02/Mar/1915. Buried at Greenwich Cemetery, London.
- Birth registered Q2 1902 Fulham, London. Baptised 24/Dec/1906 at St Barnabas, Acton Vale, Ealing. Died 1928 [reg. Q3 1928 St Giles, Gloucestershire].
- Born 29/Nov/1922 in Missouri. Daughter of Walter and Lena Riley. Social Security #488140571. Died 22/Aug/1984 in Los Angeles.
- Born 23/Dec/1947.