A law school graduate, New York-born Abraham Polonsky entered movies after a short teaching career, as a screenwriter. After serving with the Office of Strategic Services (forerunner of the CIA) during World War II, he returned to Hollywood and, after a brief stint with Paramount, wrote the screenplay for the independent production Body and Soul. With help from producer Bob Roberts, Polonsky ascended to the director's chair for Force of Evil, a stunning film noir that attracted a great deal of attention despite major distribution problems. Unfortunately, Polonsky blacklisted in 1950 after refusing to testify before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. He continued to work as a screenwriter, but didn't get another chance to direct until 1970 in Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here.