At the end of October, the American Cinematheque will present a quirky series featuring films from two masters of mood and suspense. Running on select nights from October 14 through 31, Tourneur & Hitch: The Films of Jacques Tourneur and Alfred Hitchcock will offer a series of double bills, each matching one of Hitchcock’s films with one of Tourneur’s. The first week’s batch will consist of film noir and suspense-thrillers, but Week 2 will delve deeply into horror in time for Halloween.
The transition starts on October 28 with Tourneur’s The Leopard Man and Shadow of a Doubt. The latter is one of Hitchock’s classic thrillers; the former is one of three films Tourneur directed for producer Val Lewton, which grafted clever storylines onto titles that sounded like cheesy horror movies. The Leopard Man is the least of the Lewton-Tourneur collaborations, but early on it contains one of the scariest sequences ever committed to celluloid, when a little girl hurries home pursued by a menacing panther.
Next is Rebecca and I Walked with a Zombie – a clever combination as both feature a young woman falling in love with a man troubled by the spectre (literal or figurative) of his wife. Hitchcock’s Rebecca may not technically be a horror film, but it is loaded with Gothic elements. I Walked with a Zombie is the best of Tourneur’s work for Lewton, who jokingly called it “Jane Eyre in the West Indies.” Both are classics.
Going full-blown horror on October 30, the American Cinematheque presents a double bill of Hitchock’s The Birds and Tourneur’s Curse of the Demon – two of the greatest achievements in the horror genre. The later is marred slightly by the overexposure of its titular character; nevertheless, its ending packs a wallop.
The series concludes on Halloween Night with Hitchock’s Psycho and Tourneur and Lewton’s most well known title, Cat People. Both are justifiably famous, dealing with the psychological underpinnings of horror (though Cat People is ambiguous enough to allow for the possibility of the supernatural – an approach common to Tourneur’s work, including Curse of the Demon).
Screenings take place at the Aero Theatre, starting at 7:30pm. Tickets are $13 general admission, $8 for Cinematheque members. The address is 1328 Montana Avenue in Santa Monica.
Get full details on the series at the Cinematheque’s website.