Irving Lerner is a filmmaker who happily remained on Hollywood's fringe. He is best known for two taut, well-wrought thrillers, made on shoe-string budgets in the late 1950s, Murder by Contract and City of Fear. Before becoming a filmmaker, Lerner was a research editor for Columbia University's Encyclopedia of Social Sciences, getting his start in film by making documentaries for the anthropology department. He then made films for the Rockefeller Foundation and other academic institutions, later becoming a film editor and second-unit director involved with the emerging American documentary movement of the late '30s. Lerner produced two documentaries for the Office of War Information during WW II and after the war became the head of New York University's Educational Film Institute. In 1948, Lerner and Joseph Strick shared directorial chores on a short documentary, Muscle Beach. Lerner then turned to low-budget, quickly filmed features. When not hastily making his own thrillers, Lerner worked as a technical advisor, a second-unit director, a co-editor and an editor. In 1968, he executive produced Custer of the West. Irving Lerner continued directing through the '60s and though he had larger budgets and longer shooting schedules, he never had the success of his earlier quickies.