Friday, July 17, 2009
Who Was That Lady?
Quick - name a Janet Leigh film, besides Psycho.
She was an Oscar-nominated actress, and half of one of the most famous, publicized couples of the 1950's...
...but Miss Leigh possibly made the least memorable films of any major star we can think of. Perhaps it was her flexibility and almost cipher-like prettiness that was the trouble: she was equally at home in dramas, comedies, musicals, and Westerns; and could give fair approximations of a girl next door, a blonde bombshell, or a glamorous fashion plate. Never honing a particular image to fix upon the public, she drifted from Houdini (1953) to The Naked Spur (1954) to My Sister Eileen (1955) with professional ease.
However, a closer inspection reveals at least two other bona fide classics in Miss Leigh's filmography, aside from her infamous outing with Hitch: Touch of Evil (1958) and The Manchurian Candidate (1962), cinephile favorites which we don't immediately associate as "Janet Leigh films." Perhaps Orson Welles and John Frankenheimer chose Miss Leigh precisely for her versatile, chameleon-like quality, and for her ability to add to the whole of the project without stealing focus from it.
Then there's Night of the Lepus (1972), but that's a whole other bag of bunnies.