Robert Rossen

Active - 1937 - 1964  |   Born - Mar 16, 1908   |   Died - Feb 18, 1966   |   Genres - Drama, Thriller, Adventure

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Biography by AllMovie

American screenwriter, director, and producer Robert Rossen, born Robert Rosen, was raised by Russian-Jewish immigrants in the often violent ghettos of the Lower East Side in New York. As a young man he was briefly a professional boxer before beginning his show business career as a director and playwright in stock and off-Broadway productions. Rossen was never a great playwright, though his socialist-oriented plays enjoyed some success. In 1936, after seeing his latest production, The Body Beautiful, close on Broadway after only four performances, Rossen signed a contract as a screenwriter with Warner Bros. He worked there, writing over ten features, for seven years and worked with directors such as Lloyd Bacon and Mervyn LeRoy. His interest and affiliation with the Communist party greatly influenced his writing. By 1945, he had abandoned the party, but his early activities led to his being subpoenaed by the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. It took them four years to get around to trying and blacklisting him; during that time, Rossen independently produced several notable films such as Body and Soul (1947) and All the King's Men (1949). In 1953, Rossen chose to "rat" on many of his peers to the Committee and so was able to resume his career. He did not return to Hollywood, but did continue making films; with some notable exceptions, such as the multiple-Oscar-nominated film The Hustler (1961), most of his films were not terribly successful. In 1964, he made Lilith, considered by many modern critics Rossen's greatest film.

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