Former boxer whose work as a writer and director of socially conscious dramas such as "The Body Beautiful" led to a writing contract with Warner Bros. in 1936. Rossen scripted around ten features over the next seven years for directors including Lloyd Bacon, Mervyn Leroy and Lewis Milestone. His writing was influenced by his Communist affiliations and, although he had left the party in 1945, his involvement led to a subpoena from the House Un-American Activities Committee in 1947. In the four years that elapsed before Rossen was eventually tried and blacklisted, he established himself as an independent producer and director of note with films such as "Body and Soul" (1947), scripted by Abraham Polonsky, and "All the King's Men" (1949), an incisive indictment of political corruption.
After "naming names" in 1953 Rossen was allowed to continue working, but chose not to return to Hollywood. His subsequent output was uneven, but not without successes. "The Hustler" (1961) is a moody poolroom drama with its roots in an unproduced Rossen play, "Corner Pocket"; it was nominated for Academy Awards in every major category and inspired a Martin Scorsese-directed sequel, "The Color of Money" (1986), which again starred Paul Newman. "Lilith" (1964) is a tragic study of obsession set in a mental hospital and starring Warren Beatty and Jean Seberg; shot, like "The Hustler," by Eugene Shuftan, it was dismissed by US critics of that time of its release but is now regarded by many as its director's masterpiece.