Tuesday, November 24, 2009

HAMMER GLAMOUR: Valerie Leon

Kimberley at Cinebeats is hosting a Hammer Glamour week, 24th to 30th November. Which is the only excuse I needed to post some archetypally 60s/70s cheesecake shots of the knee-weakeningly gorgeous Valerie Leon ...






... as well as a more recent picture that proves she still has that inimitable touch of glamour.



Valerie Leon's onscreen career was - perhaps unfairly - defined by her physical charms: a couple of 'Carry On' films, a handful of interchangeable sex comedies, eye candy in two Bond movies ('The Spy Who Loved Me' and the non-Broccoli-produced 'Never Say Never Again'), plenty of television work and those memorable Hai Karate aftershave adverts in the 70s which probably accounted for half of that decade's pubescent males buying the stuff by the gallon and going round smelling like a Turkish brothel.

'Blood From the Mummy's Tomb' gave Valerie Leon her one bona fide leading role, but the production was troubled. Peter Cushing, originally cast in a major role, had to bow out after his wife was diagnosed as seriously ill. Andrew Keir replaced him, but Cushing's absence is palpable. Director Seth Holt died during the shoot; the film was completed under the guidance of Michael Carreras. It's an atmospheric piece and Valerie Leon is striking and seductive; however, the film has an uneven tone that reflects these tragedies, and is remembered chiefly as something of a curio.

After a couple of decades out of the limelight, Valerie Leon appeared in Sylvie Bolioli's well-received short film 'Gas' (based on an early Hitchcock story that never made it to the screen). Valerie Leon's website is definitely worth a visit, and demonstrates (if any proof were needed) the longevity of her continued appeal.

4 comments:

Kimberly Lindbergs said...

Loved your piece on Leon, Neil! She was such a beauty and she still looks great. I had no idea that she had her own website so I'm off to visit it...

Neil Fulwood said...

She has that kind of timeless beauty that Honor Blackman and Claudia Cardinale have. The years haven't dimmed it.

Thanks for commenting. Glad you enjoyed the article.

The Film Connoisseur said...

I remember her from Blood from the Mummys Tomb, I thought she was so beautiful on that one, and played a great role as the daughter possesed by the evil egyptian princess.

I do remember reading the production was troubled, the director died of a heart attack! Still, I thought the film had some inspired moments in it! Im glad it ended up being a good film anyway, inspite of all its troubles.

Neil Fulwood said...

Yeah, the director Seth Holt actually died on set. I think I read somewhere that he collapsed into the arms of one of the cast members. Hellishly traumatic for everyone on the set, I'd imagine!

Michael Carreras stepped in really quickly to complete the final week of principal photography.

It's sad that the film seems to be so overlooked now; Valerie Leon's performance is memorable and I don't think she ever looked more beautiful.