Ben Barzman: Canadian writer (1910 - 1989) | Biography
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Ben Barzman
Canadian writer

Ben Barzman

Ben Barzman
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Canadian writer
Was Screenwriter Writer Novelist Journalist Science fiction writer
From Canada United States of America
Field Film, TV, Stage & Radio Journalism Literature
Gender male
Birth 12 October 1910, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Death 15 December 1989, Santa Monica, Los Angeles County, California, USA (aged 79 years)
Star sign Libra
Politics Communist Party of Canada
Spouse: Norma Barzman
Children: Paolo Barzman
The details (from wikipedia)


Ben Barzman (October 12, 1910 – December 15, 1989) was a Canadian journalist, screenwriter, and novelist, blacklisted during the McCarthy Era and best known for his screenplays for the films Back to Bataan (1945), El Cid (1961), and The Blue Max (1966).


He was born in Toronto, Ontario to a Jewish famly. He was the screenwriter or co-writer of more than 20 films, from You're a Lucky Fellow, Mr. Smith (1943) to The Head of Normande St. Onge (1975).


Like many of his colleagues in the movie business, Barzman was blacklisted by the House Un-American Activities Committee.

Norma Barzman, at least, was a CPUSA member during 1943-1949. In 2014, she told the Los Angeles Times, "one should be proud to have been a member of the American Communist Party during those years. Hitler was invading the Soviet Union, so there was no reason to be anti-Russian, they were our allies."

The couple moved to England so Barzman could work on the film Give Us This Day (aka, Christ in Concrete, 1949). Following his return to the United States after directing Give Us This Day, Edward Dmytryk, one of the Hollywood Ten, testified about the Barzmans to HUAC in 1951. "To get out of prison he named us and a lot of other people," said Norma Barzman in 2014. In the 1950s, the family moved to Paris, where friends included Pablo Picasso, Yves Montand, and Simone Signoret, and later southern France). Barzman did not receive credit for some films because of the Hollywood Blacklist.

His U.S. citizenship was revoked from 1954 to 1963. His wife Norma had her passport revoked from 1951 for seven years. The family remained abroad in London, Paris and Nice until 1976, during which time he wrote his novels and screenplays for French and Italian films.


Barzman died in Santa Monica, California, United States.

Surviving him was his wife, Norma Barzman, and seven children (including director Paolo Barzman, screenwriter Aaron Barzman, visual artist Luli Barzman, and French university professor John Barzman) and five grandchildren.



  • 1985: Order of Arts and Letters


In addition to having several children follow him in the Arts, he received a retrospective showing of his films at the Cinematheque in 1982.

External sources

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article on 31 Jul 2020. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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