Shakespeare, Melodrama, & the Hitchcock Thriller
 Excerpted From 'The Man Who Knew Too Much'

The Memoirs of Screenwriter-Laureate Charles Bennett
Edited by John Charles Bennett

[Charles Bennett (1899-1995), actor, playwright, and screenwriter, began writing melodramas when he was a boy, as the representative fragment included below, from 'The Mill Mystery', illustrates.  When Bennett's play 'Blackmail' was staged in London in 1928, starring Tallulah Bankhead as Alice, it attracted the interest of Alfred Hitchcock.  The director chose the play as the basis of his last silent film and first sound film (confusingly, the silent version was released second, for showing in cinemas that hadn't yet upgraded their projectors); it was adapted for the screen by Benn Levy and produced by British International Pictures.  Bennett took no part in writing the screenplay.  Nonetheless, he seized the opportunity of meeting Hitchcock, to whom he was introduced on the film's set, and the two men immediately became firm friends and drinking companions.  Bennett entered the film industry soon afterwards.  His first contract appears to have been with BIP (though see Note 4 below and an expanded version in 'The MacGuffin' #28), whose story editor, Walter Mycroft, one day suggested that the writer collaborate with Hitchcock.  Mycroft pointed out that the studio owned the rights to the popular 'Bulldog Drummond' character created by 'Sapper' (H.C. McNeile), and that if Bennett would write a story about Drummond, the studio would assign Hitchcock to direct it.  As events turned out, "Bulldog Drummond's Baby" - an original story by Bennett - remained in a drawer for several years.  But when Hitchcock went to Gaumont-British in 1933, he needed a script and asked Bennett to help re-write the Drummond story, which now became The Man Who Knew Too Much (with Drummond gone).  This was the first Bennett-Hitchcock collaboration, and the rest is cinema history.  Bennett's subsequent screenplays included The 39 Steps (1935), Secret Agent (1936), Sabotage (1936), Young and Innocent (1937), and Foreign Correspondent (1940) - all for Hitchcock - The Clairvoyant (1935), King Solomon's Mines (1937), Reap the Wild Wind (1941, the first of three films for Cecil B. DeMille), Ivy (1947), The Curse of the Demon (1958), and The Lost World (1960, one of four films for producer Irwin Allen).  Bennett also directed two films, both of them scripted by himself: Madness of the Heart (1949) and No Escape (1950).  What follows are reflections by Bennett about his theatre days and how well they prepared him for writing some of the quintessential Hitchcock suspense-thrillers.  Finally, there's an excerpt from the play 'Blackmail' - the murder scene - showing that the details of the murder in the film were largely already present in the stage version.  Our gratitude to John Bennett for generously making available this material from his father's memoirs - which still await a publisher despite their obvious enormous interest to film scholars and historians, Hitchcock buffs and the general reader.  John Bennett may be contacted by email at <>.]

Charles Bennett at eight years old

ACT I. Scene I. Inside a Mill. Darkness. Enter the Duchess.

Duchess: This morning I had a letter. Who wrote it? I know not. Ah! Here it is. It says, 'Meet me at 6:30 tonight at the mill. If you don’t … death. - Robert Allers.'

Yes, it’s a long time since I saw Robert ….

I WAS NOT ALWAYS a screenwriter. I had been a successful actor, playwright, and stage director before I met Hitch. For seventeen years theater had been my life. In those years I developed my sense of drama and construction. My theater experience was the basis for my collaboration with Hitch. And ultimately my love of Shakespeare helped shape the THRILLER genre.

The beginnings of my stage career came when I tumbled into a job as a child chorister in Max Reinhart’s production of Charles Cochran’s THE MIRACLE at London’s Olympia in 1911. After THE MIRACLE, I played a child role in ALICE IN WONDERLAND at the Savoy Theater, a donkey in GOODEY TWO SHOES in 1915, then another child role in THE MARRIAGE MARKET with George Edwards, etc. When Germany invaded France in August 1914, I was speaking one line in Sir Herbert Tree’s production of DRAKE at His Majesty’s Theater in London. I graduated into actual acting in 1916, speaking lines in the Horsefield and Woodward touring company’s production of Conan Doyle’s THE SPECKLED BAND. I had my first substantial acting job in 1916 as Edgar in Sir Herbert Tree’s production of KING LEAR, and I continued to act through much of the World War. But acting was not enough, and like so many patriots of my generation, by seventeen I felt the call to duty.

I came out of the army at the end of 1919 and had nothing left to do but become an actor again. At first I was a terrible actor - I used to get jobs and be fired from them. I played with the BREWSTER'S MILLIONS company (1920), the Compton Comedy Company, the Lena Ashwell Players, and the Gertrude Elliott Touring Company, among others. I remember roles with the Henry Baynton Company in ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA and A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM. I played Lord Fitzheron in TANCRED (1923) at the Kingsway. And in 1924 I acted in the second season of the Bristol Little Theater, doing a play a week, playing most of the important parts.

In 1923, I performed with the Alexander Marsh-Carrie Baillie Shakespearean Company, probably the most insignificant Shakespearean company which has ever toured the United Kingdom. We traveled through the smallest of the mining towns in the north of England where I would play Romeo sometimes twice nightly - with Wednesday and Saturday matinees. I never had dough for drama school, but after playing a different part in a different play every week at two repertory theaters, wandering around the British provinces with no less that three Shakespearean companies, and frequently playing two different Shakespearean roles in two different plays - matinee and evening - I think I really learned to act, developing the ability either to 'proclaim' or play naturally. Looking back at a career during the early part of which I was surely the worst young actor extant, I believe I eventually belabored myself into being a reasonably good one.

In 1925 I became the leading juvenile man with Ben Greet’s touring Shakespearean Repertory. Our repertory (my roles) in the first half of that year consisted of JULIUS CAESAR (Mark Antony or Julius Caesar), ROMEO AND JULIET (Romeo), THE TEMPEST (Antonio), THE TAMING OF THE SHREW (Vincentio), THE WINTER'S TALE (Camillo), AS YOU LIKE IT, MERCHANT OF VENICE, TWELFTH NIGHT, MACBETH, OTHELLO, and MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM! In September, our repertoire changed, replacing Shakespeare with THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST (Moncrieff or Chasuble), THE SPECKLED BAND (Watson), YOU NEVER CAN TELL (Bohun), PYGMALION and SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL!

Back in London, in December 1926, I was crowned with laurel as Theseus in a spectacular production of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM at London’s Winter Garden Theater. This was followed in April 1927 by my appearing in an all star cast performance of OTHELLO at the Apollo to benefit the Shakespeare Memorial Theater Fund. Our cast included such luminaries as John Gielgud, Robert Loraine, Gertrude Elliott, and Esmond Knight, and was accorded Royal Patronage! Finally, my acting career culminated in December 1927 with an acclaimed performance in Robert Loraine’s CYRANO DE BERGERAC at the Apollo.

I’ve always wondered whether writers are born or made. I think the former is the case. I attempted to write my first play THE MILL MYSTERY (1907) at the age of eight, and my first three-act play at the age of thirteen. I kept a journal from the age of seven, and was always writing stories or poetry - titles like UNDER FALSE PRETENCES (1914), THE ROOM OF DEATH (1915), THE MYSTERIOUS MR. X (1916?), THE PENALTY (1917), THE GREAT INVASION, THE SIEGE OF LONDON, etc. Mother encouraged me to compose stories and write letters about fictitious situations. My only formal education was at fourteen when I spent nearly eighteen months at St.Mark’s College School, Chelsea. Bewilderingly, I was the top student and edited 'The St. Mark’s Gazette'. But as for further education, I guess having to earn one’s living is the best tutor of all.

Acting in Paris off and on during 1925 and 1926, I wrote my first three full length plays. We were putting on a different play every two weeks, which meant continual performing and rehearsing. I wrote at night when I guess I should have been sleeping. THE RETURN, produced at the Lyceum, was written in the Spring of 1925; it was a spiritualist story inspired by one of my several weekend visits back to the battlefields where I had fought in the trenches. BLACKMAIL and THE LAST HOUR were written later in 1925 and 1926.

When American impresario Al Woods arrived in London in 1927, he found himself in possession of a theater but in need of a play to replace Frederick Lonsdale’s FOREIGNERS which was abandoned. He advertised for authors to send their manuscripts for review, and to my satisfaction, he chose my play BLACKMAIL from among 300 submissions. The play was based on the experiences of a girl of whom I was once very fond, an adventure she had after attending the Chelsea Arts Ball. BLACKMAIL opened at the Globe Theater on February 28, 1928. It was directed by Raymond Massey, and starred the lovely and very young Tallulah Bankhead.

The play met a stormy reception, with Tallulah’s enthusiasts rushing the Gallery stairs and the police called. There was press notoriety concerning her role, then the play flopped. Critics remarked if this was the best of several hundred, exactly how bad must the others have been? I had to go around apologizing, eventually replying to the criticism in a letter to 'The Sunday Express'. Fortunately critic S. Rossiter Shepherd published the truth about the miserable business, revealing how the original play had been hacked about and spoiled by other people. This cleared me, as I could not really say a word in my own defense without repercussions among producers.

When the original version went on tour with multiple touring companies, it proved to be the success it should have been in London’s West End. One reviewer wrote kindly of me, 'His object is to show the moral murderousness of blackmailers, and he succeeds vividly. He not only shows the tortures of the blackmailed, but lays bare also the state of mind of the blackmailer. The subtlety of alternating drama and psychology demands from the cast an unfaltering accuracy of interpretation.'

THE LAST HOUR, a melodrama I wrote and directed, debuted at the Comedy Theater on December 20, 1928. It featured a cruel and suave, totally unscrupulous foreign agent attempting to steal an all-powerful death ray (laser), while matching wits with two disguised British Secret Service agents. Of course there was a heroine over whose father the villains had a mysterious hold. THE LAST HOUR was a spy adventure with liberal comic relief, a pioneering, bombastic use of stage special effects, full of surprises and turnabouts. It was an overnight hit mainly because I burned two of my main characters to charred embers before the thrilled eyes of my audience - trick stuff beautifully arranged by David Devant of the then-famous magical and illusionist theater, Mascelyne and Devant.

Happily, the great success of THE LAST HOUR in London and on tour cemented my second career as a melodramatist in the classic style. In a review of opening night, the 'Sunday Times of London' drama critic favorably compared my work to that of British dramatist John Webster (1580?-1638?). Webster, it is said, endowed villains with 'matchless cunning, a hatred of good for its own sake, and a plentiful lack of conscience' ('Encyclopedia Britannica', 23:473, 1944). The critic referred to Webster’s gradual approach of horror and slow torture, his free use of 'poisoned engines, daggers, pistols, disguised murderers, masques and nightmares', and the author’s profound pity for the innocent who suffers 'shipwreck in the storm of evil passion not their own ...' My 'Nelson’s Encyclopedia' (1940) acknowledges Webster as the master of terror and violence second only to Shakespeare! Of course, like the Elizabethan Webster, I had learned my drama on the Shakespearean stage. So upon my acceptance as a modern-day Webster, I continued in the Shakespearean tradition by writing thrillers for stage and film.

I directed my next melodrama, SENSATION, at the Lyceum Theater, London, where it opened on October 15, 1931. The press called it 'lurid and exaggerated', 'raving', a 'melodramatic thriller', 'a guiless orgy of gore'. It told of an innocent journalist who discovers a corpse on the Southampton boat-train, then allows himself to be arrested for the murder so his paper will get a scoop. There was an endangered heroine (the lovely actress Eve Gray), a chase scene, diamond smugglers, secret passages - lots of nonsense - and a courtroom drama ending with the shooting of a witness.

Altogether, I had eight plays produced in that period, five of which I directed (d) - THE RETURN (1927, d), BLACKMAIL (1928), the one-act AFTER MIDNIGHT (1928, d), THE LAST HOUR (1928, d), THE DANGER LINE (1929), SENSATION (1931, d), BIG BUSINESS (1932, d), and PAGE FROM A DIARY (1936). But it was the second of these, which would catapult me into my third career in an industry of which I’m still a part.1

Alfred Hitchcock, quite rightly, is known as 'the master of suspense'. But suspense has been my middle name. And being a somewhat conceited individual, I like to believe that I subscribed in no small way to Hitch’s reputation. In fact, I know that it was my sense of suspense which moved Hitch to enlist me as his regular writer for seven of his early sound movies beginning with the 'FIRST SUPER TALKEE', Blackmail (1929), for British International Pictures (BIP).

Hitch loved the story - his kind of stuff (and mine). Attempted seduction. Murder. The young innocent murderess being blackmailed. The switch in which the blackmailer himself is the true suspect of the murder. Suspense ... The dramatic elements were Hitchcock’s meat, particularly as it started him off on the 'wrong man accused' story pattern, which he cashed in on so frequently in after years.2  Blackmail was released June 21,1929. It was a gigantic success, and is still shown as a classic. But more immediately important to me was that its success gave me a footing in the film industry. So in addition to my writing for the stage, I started on eight years of London-based screenplay writing.

On April 15, 1929 - two months before the opening of Hitchcock’s Blackmail - Archibald Nettlefold (who controlled the Comedy Theater) optioned the film rights to THE LAST HOUR. Nettlefold had a film company in his own name which produced The Last Hour in 1929, directed by Walter Forde. This was the first talkie for Nettlefold Studios. I think Hitch would have gone for its death ray, spies and international intrigue in a big way. Unfortunately, the film was completely ruined by advice taken by Walter from some lousy scenarist named Harry Fowler Mears. All the gloriously possible special effects stuff, so easy from a film point of view, was cut out in favor of one use of the death ray against an extremely phony-looking dirigible. I was disgusted and I’m sure the movie, left with only lots of dialogue (probably not very good anyway), was a ghastly flop.3

In September 1931, I signed a slightly crazy contract with BIP agreeing to deliver three film stories a year for two years!4   I made a lot of money writing original four to six reel screenplays, at the rate of one every six weeks or so. Walter Mycroft, the story editor at BIP and incidentally a hunchback - of whom Hitch with his perverted humor said, 'If you break his back you’ll find chocolates inside, poisoned' - suggested Hitch and I should get together on a subject they dearly loved but for which they had no story. It seemed BIP owned the rights to the famous 'Bulldog Drummond' character, so I was asked to write a story based on his character, not any specific story theme. What emerged was a story of my own, not a dramatization of anybody else’s tale. Hitch, also under contract, was assigned to direct the movie, to be called Bulldog Drummond's Baby.

I re-met Hitch - my first meeting with him since Blackmail - and I came up with the story, which wasn’t too bad. (I still have the original handwritten manuscript preserved in one of my journals.) As the film's director, Hitch joined me and we worked together on the development. The tale was pure suspense. Bulldog, in Switzerland with his wife, inadvertently learns that a terrible assassination will shortly take place in London. But the 'heavies' know that he knows, with the result that Drummond’s five-year-old daughter is kidnapped. She will die unless Drummond holds his tongue. Meanwhile, the story stalks relentlessly toward the assassination - at a certain time and place.

It was the almost perfect formula - only lacking the idiot interference of the police - but as regards its production, rather horrifying. Though Blackmail put BIP on top, Hitch’s next couple of movies were flops. And John Maxwell, head of BIP, became nervous as regards the cost of Bulldog Drummond's Baby because the movie entailed some location shooting at St. Moritz, Switzerland. Soon enough Hitch and John Maxwell (whom Hitch regarded with his usual 'fear of the boss') parted company. I worked out my Elstree [BIP] contract while Hitch entered into an agreement with Alexander Korda, out of which nothing emerged. With Hitch’s departure from BIP, our association ended.

Though down for the count at BIP, my story was not out. Hitch, in his very early twenties, had started his film career in various capacities - cutter, set designer, etc. - eventually rising to silent film director, all under Michael Balcon (later Sir Michael Balcon). Mick was a delightful man, very encouraging to writers, some of whom he would bring across from Hollywood in an effort to make our British movies more salable in the States. By the Thirties Mick had become production head of Gaumont British (GB) and Gainsborough Pictures. Now Hitch returned to Mick at GB's Shepherd’s Bush studio, and immediately asked to be allowed to buy and make my Bulldog Drummond story. The purchase deal was made with BIP, and it went into production - naturally with Hitch directing. The title was changed to The Man Who Knew Too Much with my receiving the original story-credit.

I was happy during my years with Gaumont British, but at the same time I was always conscious of regret at having finally put my play-acting days behind me. It was like a chunk of my life had gone. And I suppose it had. I doubt if anybody who has ever known the smell of greasepaint in the nostrils can ever quite shake off the sense of nostalgia. None of the radiance of a lighted film set can ever erase the glitter of footlights.

But the curtain had dropped. In January 1936, the same month as the opening of my play PAGE FROM A DIARY - and four months before Secret Agent was released - 'The Era' film magazine identified me as Britain’s 'Most Successful Screen-story Writer'. The next month, I addressed the Film Society on the subject of "The Story in the Film". Believe me, by now I really considered myself on top of the heap.

At a cocktail party celebrating my 47th birthday, Hitch wrote a facetious remark into my party book, 'You owe everything to me, including your love life!' Everything? Hardly! By the time of The Man Who Knew Too Much (1934), I had staged seven plays and directed five, written more than fifteen films, and had succeeded as an actor! Arguably, Hitch owed me! My Shakespearean experience and sense of melodrama built his reputation for suspense. My play BLACKMAIL was his 'FIRST SUPER TALKEE'. My story "The Man Who"  launched his international reputation. My construction of The 39 Steps put him out front by inventing motifs he would use in subsequent films. My recommendation to David Selznick helped bring Hitch to Hollywood. Etc., etc. ...

But Hitch would not acknowledge it. It always had to be Hitch! He would not acknowledge any writer. A very ungenerous character flaw, actually, as Hitch was totally incapable of creating or developing a story. Without me there wouldn’t have been any story. Hitchcock was never a constructionist, never a storyteller. I would take a story and turn it into something good. After that, Hitch and I would turn it into a screenplay, and then, as often as not, we’d call in certain people to write dialogue for it. As initially I always wrote my own dialogue, basically the picture would be mine - he would bring in other dialogue-writers after I left the picture. So we were a writer-director partnership - but his vanity could not credit his writers, he could give credit to no one but himself.


Alice.  This door is locked.
Peter   [dully]. Is it?

Alice.  You know it is. You locked it.

Peter   [morosely]. Well?

Alice.  When?

Peter.  In the dark … before I switched on the light.

Alice.  Why?

Peter.  Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t want us to be disturbed by my landlady … that was all.

Alice.  Give me the key.

Peter.  But look here …

Alice.  Give me the key.

Peter.  You’re really going then?

Alice.  Yes. Give me the key.

[They are facing each other. Peter stares at her for a moment, then gives in and lowers his eyes. He slowly puts his hand to his pocket and takes out the key. He sinks on to the end of the bed couch … looks at her again … then throws the key on to the ground at his feet. He speaks sullenly.]

Peter.  Oh, blast you then … take it.

[Alice looks at him disdainfully for a moment, comes down to pick up the key. Peter watches her resentfully. He is breathing in quick gasps - evidently not master of himself again yet. He has intended to let her go but her defiant carriage and steady eyes are too much for him. His lips curl into a twisted smile - desire and bitterness warring - then, suddenly, as she stoops to pick up the key, he covers it with his foot. His voice is quiet but hoarse with passion.]

Peter.  No. Why should I let you go?

Alice   [taken aback]. What?

Peter   [his eyes fixed on her]. You knew what you were coming to when you came in here tonight …

Alice   [frightened]. What do you mean? Give me that key …

[She makes a dart for it but Peter’s hand shoots out and seizes her wrist. She writhes as he twists it and her coat slips from her shoulders and falls to the ground.]

Peter  You knew …

Alice   [in agony]. Let me go …

Peter.  A girl knows what to expect when she comes into a man’s room at night.

Alice.  Let me go.

Peter.  I’m damned if I do.

Alice.  Let me go, I say …

Peter.  No. You’ve been playing me up … It’s my turn now.

Alice.  Oh …!

[Thoroughly frightened, she is struggling desperately by this time. Suddenly she stoops forward and bites his hand. He lets go her wrist with an exclamation of disgust.]

Peter.  God! You cat!

[Alice, free for a moment, darts away across the room … but Peter is just behind her. He seizes her frock at the neck but it tears right down revealing pretty 'Cami-knickers' beneath. Having lost her momentarily, he sways drunkenly almost falling … evidently the result of intense emotional excitement … and Alice, seizing her opportunity, reaches the table and turns on him with her back to it. But Peter is after her again …]

Alice.  Keep away from me …

Peter  What …

Alice.  Keep away. I’ll shout for help.

Peter   [closing with her]. No you won’t … you damned little cheat.

Alice   [fighting desperately]. You … You … Help!!

Peter   [thrusting his hand over her mouth]. Shut up … Blast you …

[Alice tries to scream but can’t. For a moment they are struggling fiercely … then Peter has her in his arms and is kissing her wildly. Alice is gasping for breath, but Peter is forcing her farther and farther back on to the table. He is obviously carried away by his passion and doesn’t know what he is doing. SUDDENLY Alice’s right hand is disengaged, and somehow THE BREAD KNIFE IS IN IT! Peter tries to seize her hand, but it is too late. The knife whips through the air and a moment later Peter is reeling back with an ugly wound in his throat. Alice drops the knife and staggers away from the table. Peter is writhing horribly - one hand to his neck - another to his heart. He falls but rises again. Alice watches him - horror-stricken. He falls across the bed and for a moment is writhing in his death agony … then he lies quite still. Alice stares at the form on the bed for a while - her eyes wide with terror. Presently she speaks … intense fear in her voice.]

Alice.   What's the matter? What's the matter with you? You're trying to frighten me ... aren't you?

[She draws a little nearer - speaking very appealingly.]

Alice.   Aren't you ...?

[She draws nearer still and her eyes dilate. She leans over, and putting out her hand, touches the dead man’s face, but snatches it back again with a stifled scream as she comes in contact with blood. She shrinks away from the bed… agony in her voice.]

Alice.   Oh … I didn’t mean to do it. You shouldn’t have … You shouldn’t have tried to …
[Her voice is shaking with fright and emotion and she tails off weakly. For a while she stands gazing at the silent form … obviously in a quandary as to what to do next. Presently she goes to the window and looks out furtively … then she comes back to the bed again. She stands there for a moment - still undecided … then, suddenly, she makes up her mind. She picks up her coat quickly and draws it about her … gets the key … crosses to the reading lamp and switches it off … goes to the door and opens it stealthily … looks round once more … then passes out into the blackness of the passage, closing the door behind her…]

All of the above ©2001, by John Charles Bennett


1.  ['MacGuffin' Editor's note.]  Charles Bennett's manuscript is undated.  He worked on it from 1980, or earlier, until 1995.  (Information supplied by JChB.)

2.  ['MacGuffin' Editor's note.]  This claim may be essentially true.  Nonetheless, the 'wrong man [or woman] accused' motif operated in four of Hitchcock's earlier films, from the second, The Mountain Eagle (1926), to the fifth, Easy Virtue (1927).  Of these, only one was a suspense picture, The Lodger, A Story of the London Fog (1926).

3.  ['MacGuffin' Editor's note.]  Apparently Charles Bennett did not write the screenplay adaptation of THE LAST HOUR.  Compare next note.

4.  ['MacGuffin' Editor's note.]  This date seems to imply that Charles Bennett was not previously contracted to BIP.  Yet Bennett is quoted in Patrick McGilligan's 'Backstory: Interviews With Screenwriters of Hollywood's Golden Age' (1986) as saying he 'was under contract to British International from 1929 to 1930'.  On the other hand, the same book contains Bennett's filmography indicating his first films as (co-)story writer were for independent producer-director of mainly quota quickies, George King, starting in 1931.  The following note from JChB does not entirely clarify the situation, but it does indicate that Bennett sold stories to BIP from at least as early as May 1931:

'My father wrote numerous produced films while under contract to BIP, but those titles are forgotten and the films have disintegrated.  Unfortunately, Charles never listed his BIP productions.  Perhaps he still considered himself a playwright, or perhaps he was more pleased with his concurrent work for director George King.  (In September 1932, King's Deadlock - from a story constructed by Charles and publicist Billie Bristow - set a box office record with more than 1400 theatre bookings throughout England.)  Sadly, film historians who interviewed Charles in his 90s were principally focussed on the Hitchcock connection, and did not ask the ancillary questions - to the detriment of the BIP scripts, whose titles he had by now forgotten.  Nonetheless, Charles did preserve many notebooks, treatments, synopses, and draft scripts from this period - among which I have found more than thirty titles.  I vividly remember Charles’ saying his BIP productions included Fireman, Save My Child! and Love My Dog.  Also, I remember his pointing to a 1926-1929 bound set of 'The Union Jack', saying some of his BIP productions derived from that source.  ('The Union Jack' was a British magazine which serialized stories of detective Sexton Blake, pitting him against such villainous characters as Paul Cynos, Satira, and Miss Death.)  I have also read publicity clippings and found, for example, that BIP purchased "High Speed" (see 'The Bioscope', 5/20/1931) and "Meet His Majesty".  Charles’ original notebooks, story drafts, and diaries are either in my possession, or are stored at the Margaret Herrick Library of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Los Angeles.  In the Herrick Library, too, are Charles' BIP and Gaumont-British contracts.  An effort to reassemble the BIP production list from British archives would certainly be a fine scholarly project, and would surely result in Charles’ attaining the Guinness record for most produced screenplays.'