Richard Brooks , (born May 18, 1912, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.—died March 11, 1992, Beverly Hills, California), American screenwriter and director whose best-known movies were adaptations of literary works, notably Blackboard Jungle (1955), Elmer Gantry (1960), and In Cold Blood (1967).
After attending Temple University in Philadelphia, Brooks began his writing career as a sports journalist and later was a radio commentator for NBC. In the early 1940s he moved to Hollywood, where he worked at Universal on the screenplays for such films as Men of Texas (1942) and Cobra Woman (1944). After serving (1943–45) in World War II, Brooks wrote The Brick Foxhole (1945), a novel about the persecution of a homosexual. The book was the basis for Edward Dmytryk’s noir classic Crossfire (1947), though the film centres on anti-Semitism. Brooks later provided the scripts for such notable films as the Jules Dassin noir Brute Force (1947) and John Huston’s Key Largo (1948).
In 1950 Brooks was given the chance to direct his own script for Crisis, thanks to its star, Cary Grant, who interceded with MGM on Brooks’s behalf. The political thriller received generally good reviews, and two years later Brooks made The Light Touch, a standard caper starring Stewart Granger as an art thief. Deadline—USA (1952) was a significant step forward, using Brooks’s newspaper background to provide Humphrey Bogart with one of his better late films. After a string of indifferent movies, Brooks had his first major success with Blackboard Jungle (1955). Based on a popular novel by Evan Hunter, the film is set in a New York City school terrorized by teenage hoodlums (played by Vic Morrow and Sidney Poitier, among others) until a new teacher (Glenn Ford) intervenes. Extremely influential, the drama helped launch the rock-and-roll revolution by using “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets as its theme. Brooks received an Academy Award nomination for his screenplay.
In 1956 Brooks directed one of his few westerns, The Last Hunt,