Jacques Tourneur Profile
* Films in Bold Type Will Air on TCM
Tourneur, Jr. began his film career modestly, as an office boy at MGM in 1924. He also acted and served as a script clerk for some of his father's films. After returning to France to work for a time, Tourneur's first film in Hollywood was MGM's A Tale of Two Cities (1935) where he served as a second -unit director and met the producer Val Lewton who would prove so influential in his later career. In 1936 he began directing short subject films for the studio and eventually progressed to a string of distinctive B-movie horror films for RKO.
A gifted director in his own right, Jacques Tourneur was known, like his father, for his subtlety and attention to a sustained mood and for his success with themes of mystery and fantasy. Jacques Tourneur was especially adept at creating a foreboding mood in a string of atmospheric, low-key films as famous for what they did not show as for what they did. Cat People (1942) and I Walked with a Zombie (1943), that he made alongside the head of RKO's horror unit Lewton, are key examples of his distinctive style. But Tourneur excelled at other genres as well, as demonstrated in his mastery of film noir in the 1947 classic Out of the Past, starring Robert Mitchum and Jane Greer, and also evident by his skills directing swashbucklers (The Flame and the Arrow, 1950) and sword-and-sandal fare (The Giant of Marathon, 1959).
by Felicia Feaster