I'm sorry, but I must admit that I've been fixated on Janet Leigh's breasts this morning.
In my apparent attempt to watch Every Christmas Movie Ever Made, I was watching a movie called Holiday Affair and in one scene Leigh is wearing a tight sweater. When I saw her in profile, I was reminded of the cone-shaped drinking cups I used to drink water from when I visited my father at his job in the mail room of the train. You could see the mechanism through the material of the sweater and I wondered what sort of engineering marvel had created those impossible breasts.
Well, I decided to write about it, as a break from puppies, and I did a search on photos of Janet Leigh. When I put "Janet Leigh" into Google's image search, one of the first suggestions that came up was "Janet Leigh's Breasts." Obviously I was not the first person to be intrigued by Ms. Leigh's mammary marvels.
It turns out that it was deliberate. The movie was a Howard Hughes production. Hughes had previously been rejected by Leigh. Of this film, the "Janet Leigh breasts page" says,
Howard Hughes was kind of bored by the idea of this film. No sex, no violence, no exotic locales, no intrigue, no malleable plot, no nothing. He knew the film would mean instant money in the bank because of the stars, the plot and the holiday hook. So he left it well enough alone which is why this film is one of the least convoluted productions from the RKO library during that time period. However, he did leave his mark by means of one very very tight sweater. In Lee Server's Robert Mitchum biography Baby I Don't Care, he states "[Hughes] had them make Janet Leigh wear a shoulder-length fall [for hair] and in one scene a sweater so tight it made her breasts stand out like traffic cones." It was Hughes way of getting back at Leigh for her for rejecting his advances as well as injecting some sex into a pretty much sexless film.
In exploring the Janet Leigh breasts web site, I found another reference to a movie called Touch of Evil, where Leigh is called "The Queen of the Pointy Breasts."
(actually, it's such a rich source of information I should link to the web site Bit Maelstrom, which turned me on to Janet Leigh's breasts. So to speak)
Here I thought I was the only person who had discovered this little Hollywood quirk and it turns out there are whole web sites devoted to it.
There's something almost satirical about the way breasts were presented in the '50s. In day-to-day clothing covered completely (by turtlenecks, no less) and yet absolutely defiant, threatening to burst out like siamese xenomorphs from John Hurt's chest.
It as if distance from the spine were the measure of breasts' worthiness. Less weird, though, than today's obsession with bolt-ons. Generic bigness now being more important than scars and strange, unnatural dynamics, apparently.
So I guess my fixation on Ms. Leigh's breasts played into the whole "Hollywood manipulates American values" thing. I feel so "used."