Alfred Hayes (1911–1985) was born into a Jewish family in Whitechapel, London, though his father, a barber, trained violinist, and sometime bookie, moved the family to New York when Hayes was three. After attending City College, Hayes worked as a reporter for the New York American and Daily Mirror and began to publish poetry, including “Joe Hill,” about the legendary labor organizer, which was later set to music by the composer Earl Robinson and recorded by Joan Baez. During World War II Hayes was assigned to a special services unit in Italy; after the war he stayed on in Rome, where he contributed to the story development and scripts of several classic Italian neorealist films, including Roberto Rossellini’s Paisà (1946) and Vittorio De Sica’s Bicycle Thieves (1948), and gathered material for two popular novels, All Thy Conquests (1946) and The Girl on the Via Flaminia(1949), the latter the basis for the 1953 film Act of Love, starring Kirk Douglas. In the late 1940s Hayes went to work in Hollywood, writing screenplays for Clash by Night, A Hatful of Rain, The Left Hand of God, Joy in the Morning, and Fritz Lang’s Human Desire, as well as scripts for television. Hayes was the author of seven novels, a collection of stories, and three volumes of poetry.
If Indecent Proposal had been written by Jean Rhys and shot by Edward Hopper, the result might have been something like In Love, in which lonely, searching strangers strive to make connections that will outlive last call at the local dive. “Hayes addresses the human condition and its heartbreaks with brevity and brutal honesty.”—The Guardian
In Hayes’s hypnotically intense reckoning with self-deception and desolation, a disillusioned screenwriter falls into an affair with an actress who, like him, has missed the big time. Nelson Algren called My Face for the World to See “the most vivid picture of Hollywood since Nathanael West’s Day of the Locust.”