Moss Hart Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Moss Hart is known primarily for his plays. He also achieved success as a screenwriter; among his best-known screenplays are those for Gentleman’s Agreement (1947) and A Star Is Born (1954). In 1959, Hart published his autobiography, Act One, which was made into a film in 1963, as were many of his plays. Finally, Hart published a handful of miscellaneous articles on theater subjects.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Moss Hart was one of the great comic playwrights of American drama. In works such as Once in a Lifetime, You Can’t Take It with You, and The Man Who Came to Dinner, he gave the theater some of its most amusing moments. He was awarded the Roi Cooper Megrue Award in 1930 for Once in a Lifetime and in 1937, with George S. Kaufman, the Pulitzer Prize for You Can’t Take It with You.

Because Hart’s best works are his collaborations with Kaufman, his critical stature will always be obscured by that of the older, more famous dramatist. It would be a mistake, however, to think of Hart as simply Kaufman’s collaborator. Kaufman worked with several partners in his career, including such talents as Ring Lardner, Alexander Woollcott, and Edna Ferber, but none of them produced such fine results with Kaufman as Hart did, nor were any of the Kaufman and Hart plays the work of one man more than the other. Theirs was a true collaboration, with each man contributing equally to the final product. Moreover, Hart’s solo works, such as Lady in the Dark, with its innovative staging and probing of psychological conflicts, show that he could create significant drama on his own.

In addition to playwriting and screenwriting, Hart directed such plays as Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s Camelot (pr. 1960) and My Fair Lady (pr. 1956); the latter won for Hart a Tony Award.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Ashley, Leonard R. N. “Moss Hart.” In Great Writers of the English Language: Dramatists, edited by James Vinson. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1979. An objective approach to Hart.

Atkinson, Brooks. Broadway. New York: Macmillan, 1970. This general survey of the Broadway stage, written by the famous drama critic of The New York Times, explores the personal and professional dimension of the writer as well as the collaboration between Hart and George S. Kaufman. Atkinson enumerates their contributions to Broadway theater and maintains that they presided over an era. According to Atkinson, they wrote comedy that was unprecedentedly iconoclastic. Contains numerous illustrations.

Bach, Steven. Dazzler: The Life and Times of Moss Hart. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2001. Includes bibliographical references and an index.

Brown, Jared. Moss Hart: A Prince of the Theatre. New York: Back Stage Books, 2006. A traditional biography of the playwright and director that charts his creative development, complete with forty-seven black and white photos and maps.

Ferber, Edna. “A Rolling Stone Gathers Considerable Heart.” Stage 14 (December, 1936): 41-43. Ferber, a contemporary of Hart as a writer of Broadway plays and fellow collaborator with George S. Kaufman, describes...

(The entire section is 508 words.)