Critic Andrew Sarris said Force of Evil (1948), Polonsky's directorial debut, is "one of the great films of the modern American cinema." Blacklisted for nearly two decades after 20th Century-Fox fired him for refusing to "name names" before the House Un-American Activies Committee (HUAC), Polonsky continued to work--and earn even more money than he had before--using various pseudonyms, such as John O. Killens, for co-writing Odds Against Tomorrow (1959). In 1996, the Writers Guild restored his real name and credits.
Interviewed in "The Director's Event: Interviews with Five American Filmmakers", by Eric Sherman and Martin Rubin.
Polonsky, a victim of the blacklist, was so offended when director Irwin Winkler changed the main character (a director who is blacklisted after refusing to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee) of his script for Guilty by Suspicion (1991) from a Communist Party member to a relatively apolitical liberal that he not only had his name taken off of the picture, he also refused an executive producer credit that would have earned him a substantial fee. Polonsky was very vocal in the press about his anger with Winkler and his disapproval over the resulting movie.
UC Riverside has a fiction prize, named for Polonsky, 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 B. Sowards and purportedly the inspiration for Polonsky's script for Tell Them Willie Boy Is Here (1969). In an interview with Soward at the WGA website, 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 Polonsky on his decision to direct it, not realizing/knowing that he wrote an original screenplay for the movie.