20. Abraham Polonsky
Chris Fujiwara

Abraham Polonsky was a unique figure in American cinema. A brilliant writer, he understood the special role of dialogue in film. Unlike theater dialogue, which occurs in real time on the stage, film dialogue, Polonsky believed, "occurs in the psychological time of the set of images which themselves happen to occur in real time." As a director-writer, he furnished himself with language that (in his words) "instead of dialogue that carries meaning where the film image fails, would be the meaning that completes the film image." Though his directing career was interrupted for two decades by the anti-Communist blacklist, the three films he directed demonstrate the success of his search for a poetic cinema that, as he put it, "escapes from the paralysis of naturalism."