"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone." (season one opening narration)
Those of us that were of a certain age in 1959 were entertained by the eerie opening monologue above, illustrated with "Dali-esque" surreal landscapes that were also accompanied by music of Bernard Hermann. I was enthralled. I was also at roughly the same time first introduced to the power of the visual Noir stylistics, not only from the original films of what we now consider Noir's Classic Hollywood Era but the same Noir style in a number of the episodes of the Twilight Zone that closely reflected and built upon the various non Crime genre tangents that Noir exploited in film during the lead up to the 1959-1968 Transitional Noir Era.
Noir was transitioning/morphing into Neo Noir. With the end of studio "B" film production and the weakening of the Motion Picture Production Code, Classic Noir unraveled. Crime stories were siphoning off to TV. Poverty Row, Independent, and other low budget film creators were taking more artistic liberties, and making films targeting certain demographics. So those Film Noir that went too far over the line depicting violence started getting classified as Horror, Thriller (even though they were just say, showing the effects of a gunshot wound, or dealing with weird or kinky serial killers, maniacs, and psychotics, etc.). Hitchcock's Psycho (1960) notoriously opened that tangent.
Noir-ish films that delved into the fantastic, were labeled Sci-Fi and Fantasy. Those films that went too far depicting sex, drugs, addictions, torture, juvenile delinquency, etc., in story lines and situations were now being lumped into, or classed as various Exploitation flicks, (even though they are relatively tame comparably to today's films). The noir-ish films that dealt with everything else, except Crime, concerning the human condition were labeled Dramas and Suspense. Those that tried new techniques, lenses, etc., were labeled Experimental films.
A few episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents (1955–1962) and more in The Twilight Zone (1959-1964) represented this Transitional Noir Era with it's themes and visuals on television, with almost all the variations listed above except notably sex and violence, and probably reaching far more people than the original (one or two weeks in a theater and then gone) films ever did. Us "Twilight Zone-ers," so to speak, were well schooled in all the possibilities that Noir offered well before the current Film Noir nostalgia fad.
Season One, Episode 1 - aired 2 Oct. 1959
Where Is Everybody?
|Earl Holliman as Mike Ferris|
|James Gregory center|
Directed by Robert Parrish (Cry Danger (1951), The Mob (1951)), Written by Rod Serling. Cinematography was by George T. Clemens.
|Ed Wynn as Lou Bookman|
|Murray Hamilton as Mr. Death|
|Gig Young as as Martin Sloan|
|Frank Overton as Robert Sloan|
Season 1, Episode 10 airdate 4 Dec. 1959
|Nehemiah Persoff as Carl Lanser|
|Rod Taylor as Lieutenant Colonel Clegg Forbes|
|Jim Hutton as Major William Gart|
|Charles Aidman as Colonel Ed Harrington|
|Maxine Cooper as Amy|
|Steve Cochran as Fred Renard|
|Ernest Truex as Pedott|
|Arlene (Sax) Martel as the Girl in Bar|
|Read Morgan as Lefty|