Today, November 12, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the birth of two terrific TZ directors: Jacques Tourneur ("Night Call") and James Sheldon ("It's a Good Life").
In addition to "It's a Good Life," Sheldon (1920-2016) directed five other episodes: "The Whole Truth," "A Penny for Your Thoughts," "Long Distance Call," "Still Valley," and "I Sing the Body Electric."
Tourneur (1904-1977) had a celebrated feature career before he joined the TZ ranks. Working in the horror and thriller genre, he helmed classic films such as Cat People (1942), I Walked With a Zombie (1943), Out of the Past (1947), and, just before TZ, Curse of the Demon (1957). Like Hitchcock, Tourneur eschewed on-screen horror. He preferred to build atmosphere and fear using the viewer's imagination – which made him a perfect candidate to direct "Night Call," about an elderly woman (Gladys Cooper) who keeps getting increasingly unsettling phone calls from a mysterious voice.
Meanwhile, Sheldon was a prolific TV pro who worked easily between comedy and dramatic shows. This range is apparent in his TZ work, going from the comedy of "The Whole Truth," about a used car salesman (Jack Carson) who purchases a haunted Model T that acts like a truth serum, to the dramatic Civil War episode "Still Valley," which blends black magic with a war story setting.
Here's to the talented directors who stepped into Rod Serling's fifth dimension and added a creative dimension of their own.