S.N. Behrman

Biografie şi Bibliografie

Samuel Nathaniel Behrman (June 9, 1893–September 9, 1973) was an American playwright and screenwriter, who also worked for the New York Times.


Early Years

His family originally came from Lithuania, but moved to America, which is where he was born. The year of his birthday was never disputed, but his actual day of birth was among his family. His mentor was Daniel Asher. He went with him when he was eleven to the theatre to see Devil's Island, where Asher convinced him to write for the stage. He was convinced when he visited Lothrope's Opera House in 1904. He graduated Classical High School (Springfield, Massachusetts) and continued on to become a professional actor. His health forced him to quit acting, and he returned home to Worcester and attended Clark College.


Behrman attained one suspension after another from Clark for failing mandatory physical education classes. Asher wanted Behrman to attend a summer class at nearby Harvard University. He took English composition with Charles Townsend Copeland. He would suffer yet another suspension at Clark in his sophomore year, and he transferred out to Harvard. While in Copeland's class, he sold a short story in 1915 to The Parisienne. He submitted one of his manuscripts to George Pierce Baker, who would New York Tribune nineteen years after name his essay "Baker's Last Drama Lecture: From Aeschylus to Behrman," out of the popularity of Behrman. In 1916, he was the only undergraduate in Baker's famed "47" playwriting class, where he studied George Meredith's comedy. He would earn his B.A.and go on to Columbia University.

While at Columbia he would study under Brander Matthews. Following him getting his masters in 1918, his brothers Hiram and Morris had a successful accounting firm and decided to fund their younger brother. He put himself to work New York Timesand eventually worked as a book reviewer for The New Republic.

Writing Career

In the 1930s and 1940s, he was considered one of Broadway's leading authors of "high comedy", and wrote for such stars as Ina Claire, Katharine Cornell, Jane Cowl, and the acting team of Alfred Lunt and Lynn Fontanne. Among his greatest Broadway successes were The Second Man (1928), Biography (1932), End of Summer (1936), and No Time for Comedy (1939). His stage adaptation of Enid Bagnold's novel, Serena Blandish, became a success for actress Ruth Gordon. He also adapted plays by Jean Giraudoux and Marcel Achard, and a short story by W. Somerset Maugham. With composer Harold Rome he adapted Marcel Pagnol's Fanny trilogy into a musical comedy for the stage.

In Hollywood, he was most noted for his work on screenplays for Greta Garbo, including Queen Christina, Conquest, and her final film, Two-Faced Woman. With Sonya Levien, Behrman co-wrote the screen play for the 1930 film version of Ferenc Molnár's Liliom, starring Charles Farrell and Rose Hobart. His experiences in Hollywood found dramatic form in Let me Hear the Melody (1951).

Berhman's comedies repeatedly celebrate tolerance, yet show how tolerant people in their generosity are often vulnerable when confronted by fanatics or ruthless opportunists. In End of Summer, a liberal household is threatened by a devious psychoanalyist who is able to play upon their weaknesses in his desire for wealth and power. Behrman's protagonists often feel inadequate to deal with the evils and injustices in the world. The hero of No Time for Comedy, a successful author of stylish comedies for his actress-wife, feels the need to write a serious play in response to the Spanish Civil War. When he fails at this attempt, he resolves to go to Spain himself and fight. The play asks the question: Is there a place for comedy in a violent and unjust world?

Behrman's writing for The New Yorker not only included profiles of such notable figures as composer George Gershwin, Hungarian playwright Ferenc Molnár, Zionist leader Chaim Weizmann and entertainer Eddie Cantor, but much longer pieces that were collected into books on Max Beerbohm and Joseph Duveen. His autobiographical essays, which also appeared in The New Yorker,later appeared in two volumes, The Worcester Account (1955) and People in a Diary (1972).



    * Bedside Manners (1923), with J. Kenyon Nicholson
    * A Night's Work (1924), with Nicholson
    * The Man Who Forgot (1926), with Owen Davis
    * The Second Man (1927)
    * Love Is Like That (1927), with Nicholson
    * Serena Blandish (or The Difficulty of Getting Married)(1929)
    * Meteor (1929)
    * Brief Moment (1931)
    * Biography (1932)
    * Love Story (1933)
    * Rain From Heaven (1934)
    * End of Summer (1936)
    * Amphitryon 38 (1937)
    * Wine of Choice (1938)
    * No Time For Comedy (1939)
    * The Talley Method (1941)
    * The Pirate (1942)
    * Jacobowsky and the Colonel (1944)
    * Dunnigan's Daughter (1945)
    * I Know My Love (1949)
    * Let Me Hear the Melody (1951)
    * Jane (1952)
    * Fanny (musical) (1954), with Joshua Logan
    * The Cold Wind and the Warm (1958)
    * Lord Pengo (1962)
    * But For Whom Charlie (1964)


    * Bedside Manners (1924), with J. Kenyon Nicholson
    * A Night's Work (1926), with Nicholson
    * The Second Man (1928)
    * Meteor (1930)
    * Brief Moment (1931)
    * Biography (1933)
    * Serena Blandish (or The Difficulty of Getting Married) (1934)
    * Three Plays (1934)
    * Rain From Heaven (1934)
    * End of Summer (1936)
    * Amphitryon 38 (1938)
    * Wine of Choice (1938)
    * No Time For Comedy (1939)
    * The Talley Method (1941)
    * The Pirate (1943)
    * Jacobowsky and the Colonel (1944)
    * Dunnigan's Daughter (1946)
    * I Know My Love (1949)
    * Four Plays (1952)
    * Jane (1952)
    * Duveen (1952)
    * The Worcester Account (1955)
    * Fanny (1955), with Joshua Logan
    * The Cold Wind and the Warm (1959)
    * Portrait of Max: An Intimate Memoir of Sir Max Beerbohm (1960)
    * Lord Pengo (1963)
    * But For Whom Charlie (1964)
    * The Suspended Drawing Room (1965)
    * The Burning Glass (1968)
    * People in a Diary: A Memoir (1972)


    * He Knew Women (1930)
    * Liliom (1930), with Sonya Levien
    * Lightning (1930), with Levien
    * The Sea-Wolf (1930)
    * The Brat (1931), with Levien
    * Surrender (1931), with Levien
    * Daddy Long Legs (1931), with Levien
    * Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm (1932), with Levien
    * Tess of the Storm Country (1932), with Levien and Rupert Highes
    * Brief Moment (1933)
    * Hallelujah, I'm a Bum (1933)
    * As Husbands Go (1933)
    * My Lips Betray (1933)
    * Queen Christina (1934)
    * Biography of a Bachelor Girl (1934)
    * Anna Karenina (1935)
    * A Tale of Two Cities (1935)
    * Conquest (1937)
    * Parnell (1937)
    * The Cowboy and the Lady (1938)
    * No Time for Comedy (1940)
    * Waterloo Bridge (1940)
    * Two-Faced Woman (1941)
    * The Pirate (1948)
    * Quo Vadis (1951)
    * Me and the Colonel (1958)
    * Fanny (1961)
    * Stowaway in the Sky (1962)

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