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In 1955, Leigh demonstrated her versatility (and the
results of her vocal training at
MGM) in the musical MY SISTER
EILEEN, about two sisters, Leigh and
Betty Garrett, who come to New York to find fame and fortune, both of
which are a little slow in coming.
Above, Kurt Kasznar,
Garrett, Leigh and Dick York (later
of "Bewitched" fame) sing "We're Great (But
No One Knows It)" in MY SISTER EILEEN, which also
starred dancer Bob Fosse who doubled as the film's choreographer.
Leigh's career turned a corner when she signed on
to appear in Orson Welles'
film-noir thriller TOUCH OF EVIL (1958) which replaced her innocuous
screen persona with a fiesty, sexually charged character menaced from without.
Playing Susan Vargas, the newlywed wife of a Mexican narcotics agent (Charlton
Heston) who is terrorized by
Mercedes McCambridge and a gang of local thugs when her husband leaves
her in their motel room to pursue an investigation, Leigh endures several
harrowing ordeals at the hands of her tormenters. Though now
considered a film-noir classic, TOUCH OF EVIL was severely re-edited by
the studio (Universal)
before its original release and proved a commercial failure. A
restored and re-edited version of the film, true to
Welles' original conception,
debuted in 1998 to world-wide critical plaudits. Read an article on
Touch of Genius to a Classic".
Little known is the fact that Leigh suffered a broken arm on
the set of her previous film, a TV movie called "Carriage from Britain", and
that with the exception of a few scenes for which her cast had to be temporarily
cut off, she filmed all of TOUCH OF EVIL while hiding her broken arm behind
costumes and such convenient props as...
Charlton Heston (as in the still at
Title" (clip) by
Henry Mancini (removed
from the opening titles of the film in the 1998 re-edited version)
(a .AU file courtesy Rhino Records).
offered Leigh the role that would secure her place in the annals of
Hollywood history, that of Marion Crane in the Master of Suspense's
low-budget and surprisingly brutal thriller, PSYCHO (1960), co-starring
Anthony Perkins. Although audiences today are well aware of Marion's
fate before the movie even begins, in 1960 they were shocked to see
the film's central character (and a movie star of Leigh's stature) killed
off less than a third of the way into the film, and were even more shocked
at the method of her demise. A landmark in movie entertainment,
PSYCHO was an enormous box-office success and in addition to becoming a
fixture of popular American culture, has also become a staple of film
studies textbooks. Leigh earned the only Oscar nomination of her
career (as Best Supporting Actress) for her performance in PSYCHO, and in
1995, authored a book about the making of the film.
Music Clips from PSYCHO:
(a .WAV file).
Suite" (clip) by
(a .MP3 file).
Cellar" (clip) by
(a .WAV file).
(For help opening any of the multimedia files, visit the plug-ins
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