Monday, August 25, 2008

Summer Under the Stars: Janet Leigh

Movie Dearest continues our daily previews of Turner Classic Movies' month long "Summer Under the Stars" celebration:

Now Playing Star Profile for Janet Leigh - Stardates: Born July 6, 1927, Merced, California; died 2004. Star Sign: Cancer. Star Qualities: Peaches-and-cream face, voluptuous form, sensitive intelligence, adaptability. Star definition: "Small-town girl who got lucky and made good. Worked hard to learn and improve whatever God had given her." -- Herself. Galaxy of Characters: Edith Enley in Act of Violence, Aline de Gavrillac de Bourbon in Scaramouche, Susan Vargas in Touch of Evil, Marion Crane in Psycho.

In Orson Welles' stark noir classic Touch of Evil, Leigh plays the new American wife of Charlton Heston's Mexican narcotics agent who have anything but a perfect honeymoon when they become entangled in a seedy case involving crooked cops, car bombs and drug trafficking.

At one point, left alone in a sleazy motel room, Leigh is besieged and drugged by a gang of young hoodlums and is apparently sexually assaulted (off camera) as their butch lesbian leader watches. Making the scene even more unnerving is that not only does the biker chick look just like Mercedes McCambridge ... it is Mercedes McCambridge! The uncredited Oscar winner appears out of nowhere for this one sequence and is then never seen again.

Touch of Evil airs tomorrow on TCM at 8:00 PM EST; also, a two-disc 50th anniversary DVDwill be released October 7.

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