John Bright, 81; Screenwriter

John M. Bright, a one-time Chicago newspaper reporter who helped through such films as “The Public Enemy” in 1931 establish the gangster film as a powerful motion picture theme, has died in a Panorama City hospital.

He was 81 and lived in West Hollywood. He had suffered a stroke and died Sept. 14.

With Kubec Glasmon, another former journalist, Bright wrote a series of stories that became films, beginning with “The Public Enemy” with James Cagney and Mae Clarke. The film made a star of Cagney, and the scene in which he smashes a grapefruit into Miss Clarke’s face has become one of the more fabled moments in American cinema.

One of the 10 founders of the Screen Writers Guild in 1933, Bright had screen credits for “The Brave Bulls,” “The Kid From Cleveland,” “I Walk Alone,” “Close-Up” and several more when he became entangled in the House Committee on Un-American Activities’ investigation of communist influence in the film industry.


Rather than subject himself to the scrutiny, he moved to Mexico, returning several years later to write magazine articles and plays. His leaving the country resulted in his blacklisting.

Survivors include his wife, Mildred, and two sons.

A memorial has been scheduled for 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Writers Guild, 8955 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles.