Benn Levy

Benn Wolfe Levy[1] (7 March 1900 – 7 December 1973) was a Labour Party Member of Parliament in the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom, and a successful playwright. He was educated at Repton School and University College, Oxford and served in uniform in both World Wars.

Playwright and parliamentarian

Before entering politics, Levy was a successful playwright and screenwriter. He was the dialogue writer for Blackmail (1929); directed by Alfred Hitchcock, it was the first British sound film.[2] Later, he wrote the adapted screenplay for James Whale's macabre horror film The Old Dark House (1932) in collaboration with R. C. Sherriff, based on the novel Benighted (1927) by J. B. Priestley. Levy directed one film, Lord Camber's Ladies (1932), which was the only film produced by Hitchcock which he did not himself direct.[3]

Levy was first elected at the 1945 general election, for the Eton and Slough constituency, and stood down at the 1950 general election. Politically, Levy was on the left of the Labour Party and became an active member of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament).[2] As a sympathiser with the Zionist movement, he also opposed Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin over Bevin's policies towards Palestine and Israel.

As an MP, Levy made an unsuccessful effort to abolish theatrical censorship in Britain, and towards the end of his life, he was the principal author of a report opposing the arguments for censorship made by Lord Longford, the anti-pornography campaigner. He was married for more than 40 years to the American-born screen and stage actress Constance Cummings; they had one daughter and one son.[2]

Levy's papers are held at the University of Sussex library.[4]



Plays written by Levy:[5][6]

  • This Woman Business - 1925
  • Mud and Treacle - 1928
  • A Man with Red Hair - 1928
  • Mrs Moonlight - 1928
  • Art and Mrs Bottle - 1929
  • Topaz - 1930
  • Ever Green - 1930
  • Springtime for Henry - 1931
  • Hollywood Holiday - with John van Druten, 1931
  • The Devil Passes - 1932
  • Young Madame Conti - with Hubert Griffiths, 1936
  • Madame Bovary - 1937
  • If I Were You - 1938
  • The Jealous God - 1939
  • Clutterbuck - 1946
  • Rape of the Belt - 1957

Selected filmography




  1. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 29 November 2017. Retrieved 16 August 2010.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. Times, Special To the New York (8 December 1973). "Benn W. Levy, 73, Playwright, Dies" via
  3. "BFI Screenonline: Lord Camber's Ladies (1933)".
  4. "The Keep News and Blog". The Keep.
  5. " - the playwrights database of modern plays".
  6. Benn Levy at the Internet Broadway Database
Parliament of the United Kingdom
New constituency Member of Parliament for Eton and Slough
Succeeded by
Fenner Brockway
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