Jacques Tourneur

Active - 1931 - 2007  |   Born - Nov 12, 1904   |   Died - Dec 19, 1977   |   Genres - Drama, Adventure, Action

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Biography by AllMovie

A resident of the United States from the age of ten, Jacques Tourneur became one of America's leading directors of horror and film noir, after a long apprenticeship. The son of the celebrated director Maurice Tourneur, he went to work at MGM as an office boy and subsequently became a script clerk on his father's movies, and returned to France as his father's editor in 1928. Tourneur made his debut as a director in France in 1931, but found, upon returning to Hollywood four years later, that there was no work for him in this capacity. He worked for David O. Selznick as a second-unit director on A Tale of Two Cities, in partnership with writer Val Lewton, and eventually moved back into the director's chair in short subjects and very low budget B pictures. In 1942, Lewton put together a low-budget horror production unit at RKO and arranged for Tourneur to direct the first two entries, Cat People and I Walked With a Zombie, a pair of deeply atmospheric, spine-tingling, yet subtle horror movies (the second one was based on "Jane Eyre"), both of which became major hits for the studio and established Tourneur's credentials. He was taken away from Lewton and given bigger-budget non-horror projects, and acquitted himself well in those, most notably the classic film noir Out of the Past (1947). But Tourneur also had a flair for swashbucklers, as he showed in The Flame And the Arrow (1950). He also directed one sword-and-sandal adventure film, The Giant of Marathon. Along with the first two Lewton movies, his most famous film is probably Curse of the Demon (1957), a chilling horror film whose reputation has grown during the four decades since its release.

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