Born in Paris in 1904, Tourneur went to Hollywood with his father, director Maurice Tourneur around 1913. He started out as a script clerk and editor for his father, then graduated to such jobs as directing shorts (often with the pseudonym Jack Turner), both in France and America. He was hired to run the second unit for David O. Selznick's A Tale of Two Cities (1935), where he first met Val Lewton. In 1942, when Lewton was named to head the new horror unit at RKO, he asked Tourneur to be his first director. The result was the highly artistic (and commercially successful) Cat People (1942). Tourneur went on to direct masterpieces in many different genres, all showing a great command of mood and atmosphere.