Family & Companions
Master of macabre suspense who hit his peak in the 1940s with such atmospheric gems as the Val Lewton-produced horror classic "Cat People" (1942), the quietly absorbing psychodrama "Experiment Perilous" (1944) and one of the masterworks of film noir, "Out of the Past" (1947). Tourneur worked on the films of his father, the gifted visual stylist Maurice Tourneur, in the US and then in Paris, where he made his directorial debut in 1931. He returned to America in 1935, making shorts and B features at MGM before hitting his stride with several brilliantly understated features for producer Val Lewton at RKO: "Cat People," "I Walked With a Zombie" (1942), and "The Leopard Man" (1943).
Tourneur inherited his father's gift for atmospheric, evocative compositions and put it to good use in westerns ("Canyon Passage" 1946), films noirs ("Out of the Past" 1947) and thrillers ("Berlin Express" 1948). His films from the mid-1950s, for various studios, were less effective, though the British-made "Curse of the Demon" (1957) marked a notable return to his earlier form.
Director (Feature Film)
Editing (Feature Film)
Moved to USA with father; grew up in CA
Began working as office boy at MGM
Signed as actor with MGM; first film, "Scaramouche"
Returned to Paris with father; worked as his editor
Directed first feature, "Un Vieux Garcon"
Moved back to USA; began working on shorts and as second unit director at MGM
Met Val Lewton when both worked as special unit directors for Jack Conway on "A Tale of Two Cities" (together they staged the "storming of the Bastille" sequence for that film)
Directed over 20 short sujects for MGM
First US feature as director, "They All Came Out"
Joined RKO where he began directing for producer Val Lewton; helmed "Cat People"
Retired to France