The first director Val Lewton hired for his RKO unit was Jacques Tourneur, and the first picture made by that unit was Cat People, an original screenplay by DeWitt Bodeen.
When Tourneur’s father, Maurice, returned to Paris after a number of years in America, Jacques had gone with him, working as assistant director and editor for his father. In 1933, he made a few directorial solos in the French language and then returned to Hollywood, where he became an assistant director at MGM. It was at this time that he first met Val Lewton, and the two young men worked as special unit directors for Jack Conway on A Tale of Two Cities ; it was Lewton and Tourneur who staged the storming of the Bastille sequence for that film.
Tourneur remained at MGM, directing over 20 short subjects, and Lewton eventually went on to become David O. Selznick’s story editor. When Lewton left Selznick to head his own production unit at RKO, he had already made up his mind that Tourneur would direct his… read more
"Unlike the classic auteur who imposes his vision on his film, Tourneur effaces his vision, not by the absence of style but by a style that emphasizes absence."- Chris Fujiwara.
My entry into Toureur and I don't quite know what to make of it. Seemingly about 'nothing', there's little to suggest a past or future for these people, existing only in a fleeting present. Neither party can even summon more than momentary rage against one another and there is at times an unsettling coolness to their behavior. McCrea in particular wouldn't have been too out of place in a Bresson film.