Abraham Polonsky

Director, Screenwriter, Novelist
Blacklisted for refusing to name any fellow Communists before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1951, writer-director Abraham Polonsky still managed to compile an impressive array of screen credits in ... Read more »
Born: 12/05/1910 in New York City, New York, USA

Filmography

Writer (11)

Body and Soul 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)

From Story

Body and Soul 1982 (Movie)

("Body and Soul") (From Story)

Monsignor 1982 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Avalanche Express 1978 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here 1969 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Madigan 1968 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

I Can Get It For You Wholesale 1951 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Force of Evil 1948 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Body and Soul 1947 (Movie)

(Screenplay)

Body and Soul 1947 (Movie)

(From Story)

Golden Earrings (Movie)

(Screenwriter)
Actor (3)

Blacklist: Hollywood on Trial 1995 - 1996 (TV Show)

Actor

American Cinema 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Actor
Director (3)

Romance of a Horse Thief 1971 (Movie)

(Director)

Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here 1969 (Movie)

(Director)

Force of Evil 1948 (Movie)

(Director)

Biography

Blacklisted for refusing to name any fellow Communists before the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) in 1951, writer-director Abraham Polonsky still managed to compile an impressive array of screen credits in a career interrupted nearly 20 years. Strongly influenced by his pharmacist father's socialist ideals, he practiced law for a few years and taught at NYC's City College before leaving the law behind in 1937 to devote himself to writing, first for radio. After joining the American Communist Party in the late 30s, Polonsky established and edited a local newspaper, The Home Front, then published his first novel, "The Goose Is Cooked," written with Mitchell A Wilson under the joint pseudonym Emmett Hogarth. Before signing a screenwriter's contract with Paramount, he published another novel, "The Enemy Sea" (1943), and his politics did not preclude his service behind enemy lines during World War II as part of the OSS (after all, Joseph Stalin was our ally).

Relationships

Rebecca Polonsky

Mother

Susan Polonsky Epstein

Daughter

Sylvia Polonsky

Wife
married from 1937 until her death in 1993

Henry Polonsky

Father
Russian-Jewish immigrant who spoke and wrote several languages graduate of Columbia University

b Polonsky

Son
was 2nd unit director on "Romance of a Horse Thief"

EDUCATION

Columbia University Law School

New York , New York 1935
(LLB)

City College of New York

New York , New York 1932

Milestones

1998

Taught a philosophy class at USC film school called "Consciousness and Content"

1998

Interviewd for the documentary, "Hollywoodism: Jews, Movies, and the American Dream"

1995

Appeared in PBS' "American Cinema" series

1982

Last feature credit as screenwriter for "Monsignor"

1978

Wrote screenplay for Mark Robson's "Avalanche Express"

1970

Helmed "Romance of a Horse Thief", scripted by David Opatoshu; set on the Polish border in 1904, it revisited the director's roots

1968

Resumed career as writer-director with "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here", starring Robert Redford

1968

First American credit under his own name, as screenwriter for Don Siegel's "Madigan"

1965

Served as story editor for the Canadian series "Seaway"

1959

Co-wrote script (using John O. Killens as a front) for Robert Wise's feature "Odds Against Tomorrow"; credit restored by Writers Guild of America in 1996

1957

Reportedly did uncredited direction on Tyrone Guthrie's film version of "Oedipus Rex"

1951

Last credit for 17 years, as screenwriter (with Vera Caspary) for "I Can Get It for You Wholesale"

1951

Subpoenaed to appear before the House Un-American Activities Committee; blacklisted by Hollywood when he refused to 'name names'; Congressman Harold Velde calling him "the most dangerous man in America"

1948

Directorial debut, "Force of Evil"; also co-wrote with Ira Wolfert from Wolfert's novel "Tucker's People"

1947

First feature screenwriting credit, "Body and Soul"; received Oscar nomination

1947

Received a credit as screenwriter for "Golden Earrings", though none of his material made it into the final cut

1940

Published his first novel, "The Goose Is Cooked", co-written with Mitchell A. Wilson under joint pseudonym Emmett Hogarth

Wrote early drafts of the script that became Irwin Winkler's "Guilty By Suspicion" (1991), a project about the McCarthy era that had Bernard Tavernier as its director at the time of Polonsky's involvement

Taught at City College in NYC

Signed screenwriter's contract with Paramount before leaving USA to serve in Europe in the OSS during WWII (from 1943 to 1945)

Joined the American Communist Party in the late 1930s, establishing and editing a local newspaper, The Home Front

Wrote for the CBS-TV shows "Danger" (1950-1955) and "You Are There" (1953-1957), among other writing outlets; fronted by his neighbor, public relations executive Jeremy Daniel (who either took no money or received a 10 percent commission, depending on wha

Bonus Trivia

.

The Univerisity of California at Riverside has a fiction prize named for Polonsky that is given to the writer of the best short-story in their annual literary magazine. Harry Lawton, an instructor at the university, wrote a non-fiction book called "Willie Boy: A Desert Manhunt" which was the inspiration for a script by Jack Soward and purportedly the inspiration for Polonsky's "Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here". In an interview with Soward at the WGA Web site, he claims that years after he'd given up on the script he wrote, Polonsky came by his office at Universal asking what time it was. When Soward asked what was wrong with his watch, Polonsky said "There's nothing wrong with my watch. I just wanted to meet the man who wrote MY script." Apparently people who had read Soward's script years back were complimenting Abe on his decision to direct it, not realizing/knowing Abe wrote an original screenplay for the movie.

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