A.I. Bezzerides, Buzz to his friends, had a long, fruitful writing career in the 1940s and '50s, churning out pulp novels and scripts for film noir classics such as "On Dangerous Ground" and "Kiss Me Deadly." Yet, like many screenwriters, he remains mostly unknown today. Spiro N. Taraviras' documentary "Buzz" chronicles the life of a tireless worker of the Hollywood "dream factory" of the middle of the last century, weaving it together with stories about the working-class experience, labor practices and the Hollywood blacklist.
The son of Armenian refugees, Bezzerides grew up poor in Fresno, where he was friendly with writer William Saroyan. After attending UC Berkeley, he wrote a novel about long-haul truckers that would later be adapted into the Humphrey Bogart early noir classic "They Drive by Night." Warner Bros. had already adapted the novel and begun production before securing the rights from Bezzerides, which put him in a good position to negotiate. But rather than risk his relationship with the studio, Bezzerides' agent accepted a tiny sum on his behalf. Thus began a long line of bad deals that marked the writer's career. Despite his productivity and success, Bezzerides never achieved any measure of financial stability, even after creating the hit TV series "The Big Valley" in the 1960s.