Richard Brooks was an American screenwriter, director, novelist and occasional producer.
Brooks was born Ruben Sax to Russian Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and graduated from West Philadelphia High School, and later Temple University. He was a sports reporter at several newspapers, then moved into radio at WNEW in New York. He served at the NBC network as a staff writer in the 1930s before directing for the stage at the Mill Pond Theatre in New York. He then spent several years in Hollywood as a staff writer for low-budget pictures and serials before serving in the U.S. Marines during World War II.
His second published novel was Splinters in 1941, but his 1945 novel, The Brick Foxhole, was a larger success – it is the story of a group of Marines who pick up and then murder a homosexual man, and the novel is a stinging indictment of intolerance. The book was made into a movie in 1947 as Crossfire, though the intolerance was switched from homophobia to anti-Jewishness to please studio executives and 1940s audiences. In the 1940s he wrote the screenplays for the critically acclaimed Key Largo and Brute Force, both suspenseful examples of film noir. He also co-wrote Storm Warning, an anti-Klan melodrama with film-noir overtones, in conjunction with Daniel Fuchs. In 1950 he directed his film Crisis, which gave a much darker role to the actor Cary Grant than he had previously attempted. He won his only Oscar in 1960 for his screenplay for Elmer Gantry, although he was nominated for the films Blackboard Jungle, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Professionals, and In Cold Blood .