Wednesday, October 01, 2014

TCM Star of the Month: Janet Leigh

Janet Leigh is the October Star of the Month on Turner Classic Movies.

Over 30 Leigh films will be shown every Wednesday night in October, continuing into Thursday morning.

Leigh's Star of the Month tribute begins this evening, October 1st, with her very first film, THE ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE (1947). In a truly "Hollywood" story, Leigh was cast in the film shortly after her photo was noticed by Norma Shearer at a ski lodge. She's charming as innocent young Lissy Anne in this post-Civil War drama with Van Johnson. I highly recommend ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE, as it's not only a wonderful film, it's fascinating to see such a novice succeeding in her debut role.

The MGM star machine treatment was then fully underway, and by the end of 1949 Leigh had starred in nine additional feature films. Some of those early Leigh titles on tonight's schedule include MGM's colorful LITTLE WOMEN (1949), in which she plays Meg; the Lassie movie HILLS OF HOME (1948); the Rodgers & Hart biopic WORDS AND MUSIC (1948); THAT FORSYTE WOMAN (1949) with Errol Flynn, Greer Garson, and Walter Pidgeon; and the melodrama THE DOCTOR AND THE GIRL (1949) with Glenn Ford.

On October 8th the evening kicks off with the baseball fantasy ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD (1951) followed by the musical BYE BYE BIRDIE (1963).

One of the highlights on the 8th is the excellent Christmas movie HOLIDAY AFFAIR (1949) with Robert Mitchum, in which Janet plays a young war widow and mother torn between security (Wendell Corey) and adventurous love (Robert Mitchum). HOLIDAY AFFAIR will also air on TCM three times this December!

Leigh played the title role in the very enjoyable musical version of MY SISTER EILEEN (1955), costarring Betty Garrett, Jack Lemmon, and Bob Fosse.

Leigh was reunited with ROMANCE OF ROSY RIDGE costar Van Johnson in CONFIDENTIALLY CONNIE (1953), a goofy comedy in which she's an expectant mother trying to figure out how to fit the beef she craves into the family food budget.

On October 15th Anthony Mann's outstanding Western THE NAKED SPUR (1953) is the first movie of the evening, costarring James Stewart and Robert Ryan.

THE NAKED SPUR is followed by the classic swashbuckler SCARAMOUCHE (1952) with Stewart Granger and Eleanor Parker, a marvelous film with exquisite cinematography. THE NAKED SPUR and SCARAMOUCHE are wonderful examples of some of the top-flight titles in Leigh's filmography.

The evening also includes JUST THIS ONCE (1952), a slight but enjoyable romantic comedy in which she plays an attorney trying to rein in the spending of playboy Peter Lawford, and Jack Webb's PETE KELLY'S BLUES (1955).

October 22nd includes some of the films she made with then-husband Tony Curtis, including THE PERFECT FURLOUGH (1958), WHO WAS THAT LADY? (1960), and THE VIKINGS (1958), which costarred Kirk Douglas (seen at left).

Titles that night also include THE FOG (1980) with her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis and the cult classic NIGHT OF THE LEPUS (1972), which is about man-eating rabbits!

Appropriately for Halloween week, the final night of Janet Leigh films on October 29th begins with the Alfred Hitchcock classic PSYCHO (1960). PSYCHO is followed by the Orson Welles thriller TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) and Fred Zinnemann's noir classic ACT OF VIOLENCE (1948).

The series wraps up in the wee hours with HARPER (1966) and AN AMERICAN DREAM (1966).

To learn more about Janet Leigh, I recommend her 1984 autobiography THERE REALLY WAS A HOLLYWOOD and the 1995 book PSYCHO: BEHIND THE SCENES OF A CLASSIC THRILLER, cowritten with Christopher Nickens.

For more information on TCM this month, please visit my post TCM in October: Highlights, along with TCM's complete online schedule.


Blogger Eric Niderost said...

Hi Laura, I do want to comment on janet--I met her-- but first, I'm wondering if you ever did buy my book on Frank Baxter? I'm Eric Niderost... here's a link to a podcast I did on the book... and, of course, I'd value your opinion

6:38 PM  
Blogger Eric Niderost said...

Re Janet--in 1983 I went down to her home in Summitridge Drive, beverly Hills, ca--what a wonderful lady, gracious--to do an article. At the time she was just finishing her "really was a Hollywood book"--and baby sitting jamie Lee's dog-- I'm a history teacher, with a freelance sideline-- and she was very trusting, when I think of it, that she let me in her home--I mean, I had no press credentials-- but she was wonderful-- I got a picture of me and her together, and, later, an autographed book.. I don't know how to post on someone else's blog--Id happily send you a the photo of janet and me via e-mail attachment-- my e-mail is look at that more often)

6:45 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Eric! Thanks so much for stopping by and for sharing your wonderful memory of Janet Leigh. What a nice lady!

I did buy your book on Frank Baxter! I just got it recently and haven't yet started it as I had other reading commitments in line ahead of it, but I'm looking forward to checking it out as I enjoyed the Capra Bell Science movies so much.

Best wishes,

7:05 PM  

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