Russell Rouse (November 20, 1913 – October 2, 1987) was an American screenwriter, director, and producer who is noted for the "offbeat creativity and originality" of his screenplays and for film noir movies and television episodes produced in the 1950s.
Rouse was the son of film pioneer Edwin Russell; his great uncle was the 1920s actor William Russell. He was educated at UCLA. His first employment in films was in the prop department at Paramount Studios, where he began writing screenplays. His play, Yokel Boy, was filmed in 1942 and became his first film writing credit.
Rouse has 18 credits as a screenwriter between 1942 and 1988. Commencing with his third writing credit, The Town Went Wild (1944), Rouse co-wrote many stories and scripts with Clarence Greene. The partners are noted for their work on a series of six film noir movies commencing with D.O.A (directed by Rudolph Maté-1950). With the second film in the series, The Well (1951), they also took on directing and producing: Rouse as director, and Greene as producer. This collaboration continued through the noir series (The Thief (1952), Wicked Woman (1953), New York Confidential (1955), and House of Numbers (1957)) and beyond. In the late 1950s Greene and Rouse formed a production company, Greene-Rouse Productions, which created the film noir television series Tightrope that ran for one season (1959–60) as well as two films in the 1960s.
In addition to their noir work, Rouse and Greene produced two westerns (The Fastest Gun Alive (1956) and Thunder in the Sun (1959). The 1959 film, Pillow Talk, was based on their story. Their careers drew to a close shortly after the unsuccessful film, The Oscar (1966).
Rouse and Greene were nominated for the Academy Award for writing The Well (1951). They received the Academy Award for Pillow Talk (1959) (with Maurice Richlin and Stanley Shapiro). D.O.A. has been preserved in the National Film Registry. That film has also been remade several times, and they were credited as writers on two of them: the Australian remake Color Me Dead from 1969 and the D.O.A remake of 1988.
In the mid-1950s, Rouse married actress Beverly Michaels. Their son Christopher Rouse (b. 1958) is a noted film editor. He died on October 2, 1987, in Los Angeles, California, and he was cremated with his ashes scattered at sea.
Richard (sic) Rouse wrote and directed several interesting noirs, such as The Well, an insightful look at crowd violence and race relations; The Thief, a Cold War noir known primarily for its gimmick of having not one word of dialogue spoken throughout the entire film; and New York Confidential, one of the better "confidential" movies inspired by Senator Estes Kefauver's public investigation of organized crime. Wicked Woman is Rouse's cheapest and seediest work, and although the dialogue keeps the script from being hackneyed, there is no one to like in the film.
Apart from The Well and D.O.A., not many of these films are actually very good, but Rouse's other film New York Confidential, a crime film without a heart that portrays its central characters as family and businessmen, is very well acted by Broderick Crawford, Anne Bancroft and Richard Conte, and pre-dates The Godfather by 17 years ...
As a movie, The Oscar was the worst publicity that Hollywood could have devised for itself. Panned by all the critics, it was also a fiasco at the box office. "Obviously the community doesn't need enemies as long as it has itself," wrote The New York Times 's Bosley Crowther.