Monday, November 5, 2018

The Twilight Zone and Film Noir

Illustration by Gregory Cannone for
George Clayton Johnson's "All of Us Are Dying"
Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine, May, 1982

In recognition of Noirvember, a celebration of classic Film Noir held annually in the month of November, here are a baker's dozen of The Twilight Zone episodes that display the show’s rich Noir heritage.

Film Noir emerged from postwar Hollywood with a series of films that established the genre’s overriding themes and style: dark, melodramatic, urban crime dramas filmed with a shadowy palate and populated by drunken private eyes, small-time crooks, femme fatales, dirty cops, deadly doctors, thieves, psychopaths, con men, and hustlers. The film titles tell the story: Night and the City, The Asphalt Jungle, In a Lonely Place, Kiss Me Deadly, Nightmare Alley. It was a stylistic genre which saw interpretation from an impressive array of talent on both sides of the camera.

Sources generally agree that John Huston’s 1941 film The Maltese Falcon, the third cinematic adaptation of Dashiell Hammett’s 1930 novel, was the first major Film Noir. Sources differ on the end of Film Noir’s classic era. A frequently cited end date is 1960 and the release of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho, based on Robert Bloch’s 1959 novel. Hitchcock borrowed elements from Film Noir (black-and-white cinematography, a murder mystery, a woman on the run, the grizzled private eye), as he had for such previous films as Strangers on a Train (1951) and The Wrong Man (1956), and delivered a shocking psycho-sexual nightmare which heralded the arrival of a more daring and ferocious type of film thriller. One of the most transitional works in the history of cinema, Psycho was an enormous influence on subsequent crime and suspense films, not to mention literature and illustrative arts. A year before Psycho was released to theaters, The Twilight Zone premiered on American television.

The Twilight Zone, too often narrowly categorized as a science fiction program, approached a wide array of styles in fantasy storytelling. Prime among these were the supernatural crime drama and the psychological thriller. With George T. Clemens’s Emmy Award-winning black-and-white cinematography (the zenith of the form on television) and a creative freedom rarely matched on other programs, The Twilight Zone attracted the finest writers, directors, and actors to the series, many of whom were significant contributors to the classic era of Film Noir. 

Actors on The Twilight Zone with Film Noir appearances include Dana Andrews, Richard Basehart, William Bendix, Neville Brand, Charles Bronson, Dane Clark, Steve Cochran, Richard Conte, Robert Cummings, Howard Duff, Dan Duryea, Jack Elam, Thomas Gomez, Earl Holliman, Phyllis Kirk, Cloris Leachman, Ida Lupino, Lee Marvin, Burgess Meredith, Vera Miles, Cliff Robertson, Mickey Rooney, and Franchot Tone. Some performers, such as Duryea and Lupino, are primarily remembered for their Noir work. The Twilight Zone was also fortunate to have directors such as John Brahm, Robert Florey, Ida Lupino (the only person to star in one episode, “The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine,” and direct another, "The Masks"), Mitchell Leisen, and Jacques Tourneur behind the camera.  

 Perhaps the most important element on The Twilight Zone was the writers. Series creator Rod Serling, always creatively concerned with the losers, the dreamers, and the doomed, was naturally at the forefront of the Noir influence on the series, but he also recruited writers who were sensitive to the literary style from which the cinematic genre was born. Richard Matheson began his career as a novelist with the James M. Cain-inspired effort Someone Is Bleeding (1953) while Charles Beaumont and John Tomerlin collaborated (as Keith Grantland) on a novel, Run From the Hunter (1957), which bore the influence of David Goodis’s 1946 novel Dark Passage, which likely inspired the man-on-the-run television series The Fugitive (1963-1967). Meanwhile, a young writer named George Clayton Johnson arrived in Hollywood fresh off the sale of a film treatment which became the popular, Noir-influenced heist film Ocean’s 11 (1960). These writers were responsible for the show’s most overtly Noir-influenced output. 

Although dozens of episodes contain the Film Noir style in terms of photography and lighting effects, I have chosen to focus on episodes which explore the principal themes of the cinematic genre. This has naturally led to the omission of several episodes, such as “Eye of the Beholder,” “The Trade-Ins,” or “Number 12 Looks Just Like You,” which will be of interest to those who wish to further explore the show’s connection with Film Noir. 

Episodes are listed in order of original broadcast date. 

       “Perchance to Dream” Season one, Episode 9 
Written by Charles Beaumont, Directed by Robert Florey, Starring Richard Conte, Suzanne Lloyd, and John Larch (November 27, 1959)

For his series debut writer Charles Beaumont adapted his story from the October, 1958 issue of Playboy into a tense thriller concerning Edward Hall (Richard Conte), a man with a heart condition whose overactive imagination has turned his dreaming state deadly. Hall’s recurring nightmare centers on a carnival roller coaster and the beautiful but dangerous Maya the Cat Girl. Conte, who built a career playing gangsters in films such as Under the Gun (1951) and The Big Combo (1955) is given the unenviable task of acting manic for half an hour yet pulls it off brilliantly. Throw in a psychiatrist (John Larch), a seedy carnival, and a femme fatale in the form of Canadian actress Suzanne Lloyd (in an unforgettable performance as the alluring yet psychopathic Maya the Cat Girl) and “Perchance to Dream” wears its Noir influence on its sleeve. The knockout punch is the weird musical score from Nathan Van Cleave and director Robert Florey’s twisted camera work, which combine to perfectly illuminate Edward Hall’s deteriorating mental state. “Perchance to Dream” is an underrated episode overall but for those interested in the influence of Film Noir on the series it is essential viewing.

Read our full review of “Perchance to Dream” here. 

“What You Need” Season one, Episode 12 
Written by Rod Serling, from a story by Henry Kuttner & C.L. Moore, Directed by Alvin Ganzer, Starring Ernest Truex and Steve Cochran (December 25, 1959)

Rod Serling stripped Kuttner’s and Moore’s 1945 short story of its science fiction trappings in favor of a Noir-flavored urban fantasy highlighting Serling’s skill at characterization. Steve Cochran, who made his name playing gangsters and heavies in Film Noir (Private Hell 36, The Chase) is tailor-made for the role of an embittered bully who intimidates a meek old man possessed of second sight (Ernest Truex). Kuttner’s and Moore’s story was previously adapted on Tales of Tomorrow, a significant precursor of The Twilight Zone, but it lacked the dark urban atmosphere of Serling’s adaptation.

Read our full review of “What You Need” here.  

“The Four of Us Are Dying” Season one, Episode 13 
Written by Rod Serling from a story by George Clayton Johnson, Directed by John Brahm, Starring Harry Townes, Ross Martin, Phillip Pine, Don Gordon, and Beverly Garland (January 1, 1960)

This most overtly Film Noir-influenced episode is a Rod Serling adaptation of an unpublished story by George Clayton Johnson about a criminal named Arch Hammer who can change his appearance at will. The tough dialogue is straight out of a paperback novel and the players are Film Noir standbys: the conman, the gangster, the jazz musician, the washed up boxer, the lonely nightclub singer. The episode’s strength is in the production design and photography, including a dazzling floating neon sequence. It remains a memorable debut for George Clayton Johnson on the series, whose jazzy writing was perfectly filtered through Rod Serling’s remarkable gifts for characterization and dialogue. Johnson’s story was later published in the October, 1961 issue of Rogue.

See our full review of "The Four of Us Are Dying" here.

“Mirror Image” Season one, Episode 21 
Written by Rod Serling, Directed by John Brahm, Starring Vera Miles and Martin Milner (February 26, 1960)

The tale of the pursued and antagonized young woman was a favorite subject of film thrillers of the forties and also of series creator Rod Serling, who approached the material several times throughout the course of the series. These included such episodes as “The Hitch-Hiker,” “The After Hours,” and “Twenty Two,” all of which show the influence of Film Noir, but “Mirror Image” particularly captures the oppressive atmosphere essential to the genre. Vera Miles, who gave a memorable performance in Hitchcock’s The Wrong Man (1956), is mesmeric as the doomed young woman battling an evil double in an out-of-the-way bus station in the middle of the night. Martin Milner plays the rational man who gets the shock of his life after having Miles committed to the men in the white coats in one of the show’s more grotesque twist endings. This one is a sleeper and comes highly recommended.

See our full review here.

“The Big Tall Wish” Season one, Episode 27 
Written by Rod Serling, Directed by Ron Winston, Starring Ivan Dixon (April 8, 1960)

Professional boxing is unquestionably the sport of choice in Film Noir. In films such as Body and Soul (1947), The Set-Up (1949), and Champion (1949), boxing is viewed through the lens of loyalty, honor, criminality, and consequence. Rod Serling’s writing career was launched into the stratosphere with his Playhouse 90 effort “Requiem for a Heavyweight” (1956), about a washed up boxer trying for a second chance in life, and he returns here to tackle the sport through a lens of fantasy. The result is a heartbreaking meditation on faith and forgiveness performed by a groundbreaking group of African American performers who broke through the color lines of American television. It remains one of Serling’s most underrated efforts on the series and comes highly recommended.

See our full review here.  

“Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room” Season two, Episode 39 
Written by Rod Serling, Directed by Douglas Heyes, Starring Joe Mantell and William D. Gordon (October 14, 1960)

Director Douglas Heyes was up to the challenge for this technically challenging two-man play showcasing Rod Serling’s concerns with the doomed and the redeemed. It is another example of Serling’s ability to combine the crime drama with fantasy as Joe Mantell plays a cowardly small-time crook who comes face-to-face with the hidden self beneath the surface. William D. Gordon, later to play the lead doctor in Serling’s masterpiece, “Eye of the Beholder,” is suitably slimy as an antagonistic thug. Though clearly influenced by Film Noir, Serling’s redemptive ending is unique in a typically nihilistic genre.

See our full review here.  

“Shadow Play” Season two, Episode 62 
Written by Charles Beaumont, Directed by John Brahm, Starring Dennis Weaver (May 5, 1961)

“Shadow Play” is the second in Charles Beaumont’s informally termed Dream Trilogy, comprised also of “Perchance to Dream” and “Person or Persons Unknown.” All of these stories contain that essential Noir element: the man on the run. Beaumont’s preoccupation with dreams and nightmares led him to create several tales which placed an everyman into the spiraling depths of an altered reality. “Shadow Play” takes this a step further as the viewer is never shown reality but only the recurring nightmare which sends Adam Grant (Dennis Weaver) to the electric chair night after night. It becomes even more powerful in the hands of director John Brahm, the man behind such moody psychological thrillers as The Lodger (1944) and Hangover Square (1945). “Shadow Play” was remade for the first revival Twilight Zone series in 1986.

See our full review here. 

“A Game of Pool” Season three, Episode 62 
Written by George Clayton Johnson, Directed by Buzz Kulik, Starring Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters (October 13, 1961)

This masterfully performed episode takes that Noir standard, the pool hall hustler, and creates from it an epic game of life and death which tackles such heavy topics as legends, dreams, cowardice, and redemption. Jack Klugman, perhaps the performer most associated with the series, is at his absolute best here and is matched by comedian Jonathan Winters as pool hall legend Fats Brown. Winters delivers Clayton Johnson’s jazzy dialogue with a confident attitude that belied his nervous disposition while filming. In the process he created one of the truly enduring characters from the series. Despite an ending with too much levity (tacked on without Clayton Johnson’s approval) the episode still manages to mesmerize and impart the hard knocks of Noir wisdom. It remains essential viewing. “A Game of Pool” was remade, with Clayton Johnson’s original ending, for the first revival Twilight Zone series in 1985.

To read our full review go here. 

“Dead Man’s Shoes” Season three, Episode 83 
Written by Charles Beaumont and OCee Ritch, Directed by Montgomery Pittman, Starring Warren Stevens (January 19, 1962)

Functioning almost as a darkly humorous remake of George Clayton Johnson’s “The Four of Us Are Dying,” “Dead Man’s Shoes” finds bum Nate Bledsoe (Warren Stevens) steal a pair of shoes off a murdered gangster who’s been dumped in an alley. A game of switched identities ensues as Bledsoe becomes the murdered man as long as he wears the shoes. Warren Stevens’s deadpan acting style perfectly complements Montgomery Pittman’s direction as does the jazz-inflected cues from the stock music. The supporting cast is rounded out by Richard Devon as a long-faced mobster and the statuesque Joan Marshall as the dead gangster’s girl. “Dead Man’s Shoes” was remade, as the entertaining “Dead Woman’s Shoes,” for the first revival Twilight Zone series in 1985.

Read our full review here. 

“In Praise of Pip” Season five, Episode 121

Written by Rod Serling, Directed by Joseph M. Newman, Starring Jack Klugman and Bill Mumy (September 27, 1963) 

This affecting drama concerns an alcoholic bookmaker, Max Phillips, who receives a telegram informing him that his son the soldier, Pip, is wounded and dying in South Vietnam. Max is shot during a confrontation with a crime boss and wanders wounded into an amusement park after hours. Amazingly, Max meets his son in the deserted park, but Pip is somehow ten years old again. They spend a wonderful hour together before Pip has to leave and return to his adult body to die. Max is filled with regret for a lifetime of poor parenting and makes a deal with God, his life for Pip’s. Max dies and Pip survives. Rod Serling’s powerful meditation on parental love is anchored by a potent performance from Jack Klugman and juxtaposed against the seedy underworld of two-bit bookies and conmen. The moody atmosphere of the deserted amusement park and the mournful, jazz-inflected score by Rene Garriguenc (conducted by Lud Gluskin) add a haunting, noir-ish quality to the drama. Workmanlike director Joseph M. Newman was no stranger to Film Noir, having directed 711 Ocean Drive (1950), Lucky Nick Cain (1951), Dangerous Crossing (1953), and The Human Jungle (1954), as well as several episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour. 

“The Last Night of a Jockey” Season five, Episode 125 

Written by Rod Serling, directed by Joseph M. Newman, starring Mickey Rooney (October 25, 1963)

Thematically related to "Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room," and taking place in one of the most noir-ish of settings, a flea-bitten one-room apartment, Rod Serling’s morality tale is that of Grady, a diminutive jockey who loses his livelihood when caught doping horses. Now he wallows in his own grief and anger, until he is visited by his alter ego, an impish double who appears to first taunt Grady and then to grant Grady’s wish to be big. Grady becomes a giant, steadily growing from first eight feet tall then ten feet tall. When the head of the racing commission telephones to inform Grady that he’s been cleared to ride again, Grady realizes with horror that he’s now too big to ride. His most fervent wish has sealed his doom. It doesn’t get more noir than that. 

“Night Call” Season five, Episode 139 
Written by Richard Matheson, Directed by Jacques Tourneur, Starring Gladys Cooper (February 7, 1964)

Richard Matheson lobbied to get Jacques Tourneur, with whom he had recently worked on The Comedy of Terrors, behind the camera for an episode of The Twilight Zone. The result was this tense, moody, and heartbreaking meditation on guilt and fear. Tourneur directed one of the classics of Film Noir, Out of the Past (1947), as well as a series of Noir-infused Gothic Horrors for producer Val Lewton: Cat People (1942), I Walked with a Zombie (1943), and The Leopard Man (1943). “Night Call” remains a genuinely suspenseful supernatural thriller which careens into an effective, emotional melodrama in its final act. 

“The Masks” Season five, Episode 145 
Written by Rod Serling, Directed by Ida Lupino, Starring Robert Keith, Milton Selzer, Virginia Gregg, Brooke Hayward, and Alan Sues (March 20, 1964)

“The Masks” is one of the most atmospheric episodes of the series largely thanks to director Ida Lupino, a performer and artist intimately associated with Film Noir. Lupino appeared in a handful of essential films in the genre and directed the gritty and effective low-budget thriller The Hitch-Hiker (1953). Lupino skillfully utilized her talented cast of character actors and the suffocating atmosphere of an old New Orleans mansion (with excellent sound design in the form of a Mardi Gras parade outside its walls) to tell Rod Serling’s story of the otherworldly comeuppance on a group of narcissistic, gold-digging relatives who descend on a dying man. Makeup effects artist William Tuttle and sculptor Charles Schram tie the tale together beautifully with their unforgettable designs for a set of ghoulish carnival masks. "The Masks" remains chillingly effective and stands as Rod Serling’s final great script for the series.

“The Jeopardy Room” Season five, Episode 149 
Written by Rod Serling, Directed by Richard Donner, Starring Martin Landau and John Van Dreelen (April 17, 1964)

As Film Noir moved into the fifties so did the genre’s preoccupation with the Cold War. “The Jeopardy Room” combines Rod Serling’s talent for social commentary and characterization while also remaining an entertaining espionage thriller. Serling cuts the fat off the typical spy tale and gets right to a game of cat and mouse staged between two motel rooms. If the narrative jumps logic in a few spots it is suited to the type of pulp novel on screen Serling and company were trying to achieve. Although this episode is sometimes dismissed as a tale better suited to Alfred Hitchcock Presents, it is unmistakably the work of Rod Serling and displays the range of the series. Director Richard Donner was the last great director to arrive on the series and here shows his skill in staging a violent and paranoid thriller. Donner embraces the staged quality of the script with some innovative camera work which keeps the dialogue-heavy action moving forward. The episode also benefits from the presence of Martin Landau, one of the finest actors of his generation, and John Van Dreelen in a pleasingly over-the-top performance as the villainous Commissar Vassiloff.

So ends our journey down the dark alleys and side streets of The Twilight Zone. We hope you enjoyed the trip and made it through with your sanity intact. For more Film Noir I recommend Eddie Muller’s Dark City: The Lost World of Film Noir (St. Martin’s Griffin, 1998), as well as the Muller-hosted TCM series Noir Alley. 


Appendix: Selected Noir Filmography:

This filmography is intended as a generous selection of Film Noir which featured performers, writers, or directors who later worked on The Twilight Zone. Appearances on The Twilight Zone are noted.

They Drive by Night (Warner Bros., 1940)
-Features Ida Lupino (“The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” director of “The Masks”).

High Sierra (Warner Bros., 1941)
-Features Ida Lupino (“The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” director of “The Masks”).

Street of Chance (Paramount, 1942)
-Features Burgess Meredith (“Time Enough at Last,” “Mr. Dingle, the Strong,” “The Obsolete Man,” “Printer’s Devil”).

The Leopard Man (RKO, 1943)
-Directed by Jacques Tourneur, director of “Night Call.”

The Woman in the Window (MGM, 1944)
-Features Dan Duryea (“Mr. Denton on Doomsday”).

Ministry of Fear (Paramount, 1944)
-Features Dan Duryea (Mr. Denton on Doomsday”), Alan Napier (“Passage on the Lady Anne”), and Cyril Delevanti (“A Penny for Your Thoughts,” “The Silence,” “A Piano in the House,” “Passage on the Lady Anne”).

Phantom Lady (Universal, 1944)
-Features Franchot Tone (“The Silence”), and Thomas Gomez (“Escape Clause,” “Dust”).

Laura (20th Century Fox, 1944)
-Features Dana Andrews (“No Time Like the Past”), as well as Vincent Price, who appeared on Rod Serling’s Night Gallery in “Class of ‘99” and “The Return of the Sorcerer.”

Fallen Angel (20th Century Fox, 1945)
-Features Dana Andrews (“No Time Like the Past”), and John Carradine (“The Howling Man”).

Scarlet Street (Universal, 1945)
-Features Dan Duryea (“Mr. Denton on Doomsday”), and Vladimir Sokoloff (“Dust,” “The Mirror,” “The Gift”).

Detour (PRC, 1945)
-Written by and based on the novel by Martin Goldsmith, writer of the fifth season episodes “What’s in the Box” and “The Encounter.”

The Blue Dahlia (Paramount, 1946)
-Features William Bendix (“The Time Element”).

The Chase (United Artists, 1946)
-Features Robert Cummings (“King Nine Will Not Return”), and Steve Cochran (“What You Need”).

Out of the Past (RKO, 1947)
-Directed by Jacques Tourneur, director of “Night Call.”

Brute Force (Universal, 1947)
-Features John Hoyt (“The Lateness of the Hour,” “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”) and Howard Duff (“A World of Difference”).

Sorry, Wrong Number (Paramount, 1948)
-Written by and based on the radio play by Lucille Fletcher, author of the radio play “The Hitch-Hiker,” adapted by Rod Serling for The Twilight Zone.

Road House (20th Century Fox, 1948)
-Features Ida Lupino (“The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” director of “The Masks”).

Moonrise (Republic, 1948)
-Features Dane Clark (“The Prime Mover”), and Clem Bevans (“Hocus-Pocus and Frisby).

He Walked by Night (Eagle-Lion, 1948)
-Features Richard Basehart (“Probe 7, Over and Out”), and John Dehner (“The Lonely,” “The Jungle,” “Mr. Garrity and the Graves”) in an uncredited role.

Force of Evil (MGM, 1948)
-Features Thomas Gomez (“Escape Clause,” “Dust”).

Thieves’ Highway (20th Century Fox, 1949)
-Features Richard Conte (“Perchance to Dream”).

The Crooked Way (United Artists, 1949)
-Directed by Robert Florey (“Perchance to Dream,” “The Fever,” “The Long Morrow”).

Criss Cross (Universal, 1949)
-Features Dan Duryea (“Mr. Denton on Doomsday”), Alan Napier (“Passage on the Lady Anne”), and Richard Long (“Person or Persons Unknown,” “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”).

The Accused (Paramount, 1949)
-Features Robert Cummings (“King Nine Will Not Return”), and Sam Jaffe (Night Gallery pilot film segment “The Escape Route”).

D.O.A. (United Artists, 1949)
-Features Beverly Garland (“The Four of Us Are Dying”), and Neville Brand (“The Encounter”).

Too Late for Tears (United Artists, 1949)
-Features Dan Duryea (“Mr. Denton on Doomsday”).

Woman in Hiding (Universal, 1950)
-Features Ida Lupino (“The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” director of “The Masks”), and Howard Duff (“A World of Difference”). Lupino and Duff were married the following year. They divorced in 1984.

The Damned Don’t Cry (Warner Bros., 1950)
-Features Steve Cochran (“What You Need”), and Hugh Sanders (“Judgment Night,” “The Jungle,” “Of Late I Think of Cliffordville”).

Where the Sidewalk Ends (20th Century Fox, 1950)
-Features Dana Andrews (“No Time Like the Past”), Gary Merrill (“The Valley was Still”), and Neville Brand (“The Encounter”) in an uncredited role.

No Man of Her Own (Paramount, 1950)
-Directed by Michell Leisen (“The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” “Escape Clause,” “People Are Alike All Over”), features Phyllis Thaxter (“Young Man’s Fancy”).

Quicksand (United Artists, 1950)
-Features Mickey Rooney (“The Last Night of a Jockey”), and Jack Elam (“Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”) in an uncredited role.

The Strip (MGM, 1951)
-Features Mickey Rooney (“The Last Night of a Jockey”).

On Dangerous Ground (RKO, 1951)
-Features Ida Lupino (“The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” director of “The Masks”).

Fourteen Hours (20th Century Fox, 1951)
-Features Richard Basehart (“Probe 7, Over and Out”), Agnes Moorehead (“The Invaders”), Joyce Van Patten (“Passage on the Lady Anne”) in an uncredited role, and Paul Douglas, who originally appeared in “The Mighty Casey” before his death resulted in reshoots which eliminated him from the play.

Under the Gun (Universal, 1951)
-Richard Conte (“Perchance to Dream”), Sam Jaffe (Night Gallery pilot film segment “The Escape Route”), and Phillip Pine (“The Four of Us Are Dying”).

Beware, My Lovely (RKO, 1952)
-Features Ida Lupino (“The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” director of “The Masks”).

Kansas City Confidential (United Artists, 1952)
-Features Neville Brand (“The Encounter”), and Jack Elam (“Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”).

The Hitch-Hiker (RKO, 1953)
-Directed and co-written by Ida Lupino, star of “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” and director of “The Masks.”

The Big Heat (Columbia, 1953)
-Features Lee Marvin (“The Grave,” “Steel”), Jeanette Nolan (“The Hunt,” “Jess-Belle”), and Adam Williams (“The Hitch-Hiker,” “A Most Unusual Camera”).

Crime Wave (Warner Bros., 1954)
-Features Phyllis Kirk (“A World of His Own”), and Charles Bronson (“Two”).

Private Hell 36 (Filmmakers Releasing Organization, 1954)
-Features Ida Lupino (“The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” director of “The Masks”), who also co-wrote the film, Steve Cochran (“What You Need”), Howard Duff (“A World of Difference”), and Dean Jagger (“Static”).

The Big Combo (Allied Artists, 1955)
-Features Richard Conte (“Perchance to Dream”), Lee Van Cleef (“The Grave”), Earl Holliman (“Where Is Everybody?”), and John Hoyt (“The Lateness of the Hour,” “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”).

Kiss Me Deadly (United Artists, 1955)
-Features Strother Martin (“The Grave”), Jack Elam (“Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?”), and Cloris Leachman (“It’s a Good Life”).

The Wrong Man (Warner Bros., 1956)
-Features Vera Miles (“Mirror Image”), Nehemiah Persoff (“Judgment Night”), and Charles Aidman (“And When the Sky Was Opened,” “Little Girl Lost”) in an uncredited role. Aidman also narrated the first two seasons of The Twilight Zone revival series.

Touch of Evil (Universal, 1958)
-Features Dennis Weaver (“Shadow Play”), and Kennan Wynn (“A World of His Own”) in an uncredited role.


  1. What a cool idea for a post! I must admit I like the first season's noir shows best of this group. I also LOVE Noir Alley and record and watch it weekly. Thanks for reminding me of some of these great episodes.

    1. Thanks, Jack! The first season was definitely the most Noir influenced of the series. The show only occasionally came back to that style afterwards. There were also many episodes which looked Noir but were more science fiction in nature so I left them off the list. Thanks for reading!