Best Janet Leigh Movies

Janet Leigh is undoubtedly one of the most renowned and beloved stars in Hollywood. From her iconic roles as Marion in Psycho to Martha in The Manchurian Candidate, she has proven herself a master of playing complex characters. Her talent for delivering powerful performances makes narrowing down her best films to just 10 an incredibly difficult task. But with her impressive body of work, we’ve highlighted ten titles that truly encapsulate Leigh’s uncompromising artistry.

Whether you’re a diehard fan or a newcomer eager to explore this classic star’s filmography, here are ten essential films starring Janet Leigh that should not be missed. From gripping thrillers to romantic comedies, these cinematic gems offer a captivating glimpse into the world of one of cinema’s most memorable stars.

The Top 10 Best Janet Leigh Movies, Ranked

10. Houdini (1953)

  • Genre: Biography / Drama
  • Starring: Tony Curtis, Janet Leigh, Torin Thatcher, Angela Clarke
  • Directed by: George Marshall

Anytime Leigh starred opposite her husband Tony Curtis, you just knew you were going to get a good film. After all, their chemistry was legendary! That iconic chemistry makes Houdini such an entertaining film — and one of the very best Janet Leigh movies of all time.

Houdini follows the life of magician and escape artist Harry Houdini (Curtis). While he falls madly in love with Bess (Leigh) and marries her, his dangerous act threatens to tear them apart!

9. The Fog (1980)

  • Genre: Horror / Thriller
  • Starring: Adrienne Barbeau, Jamie Lee Curtis, Janet Leigh, John Houseman
  • Directed by: John Carpenter

The Fog is a special movie for a lot of reasons. First of all, it’s the best Leigh horror film, save Psycho. Secondly, Leigh starred opposite her daughter Jamie Lee Curtis in this 1980 film, which is a lot of fun!

The Fog follows a small California coastal town as the residents there begin to notice strange happenings. Then, a fog immerses the town — and things become rather deadly.

8. Act of Violence (1948)

  • Genre: Film Noir / Thriller / Drama
  • Starring: Van Heflin, Robert Ryan, Janet Leigh, Mary Astor
  • Directed by: Fred Zinnemann

We could go on and on about how much we love Act of Violence. This film noir truly is amazing, thanks in large part to its thrilling story and its outstanding, stacked cast! It shouldn’t be a surprise that we consider this film one of the best Janet Leigh movies of all time!

In Act of Violence, Heflin plays a former prisoner of war who is hailed as a war hero after World War II. However, his townspeople don’t know that he actually aided his Nazi captors! When another war veteran (Ryan) arrives in town and threatens to reveal all in his quest for revenge, things spiral out of control. Leigh plays Helfin’s wife in this thrilling 1948 movie.

7. The Vikings (1958)

  • Genre: History / Action / Adventure
  • Starring: Kirk Douglas, Tony Curtis, Ernest Borgnine, Janet Leigh
  • Directed by: Richard Fleischer

The Vikings is one epic of historical drama. Any time the likes of Douglas, Curtis, Borgnine, and Leigh combine forces onscreen, you know you’re in for a real treat. And that’s exactly what The Vikings is!

This historical drama follows a Viking prince (Douglas) and slave (Curtis), enemies who hate each other — and don’t realize that they’re actually half brothers. The two end up fighting over a throne — and a girl (Leigh).

Related — The Top 10 Best Kirk Douglas Movies of All Time

6. Holiday Affair (1949)

  • Genre: Comedy / Drama
  • Starring: Robert Mitchum, Janet Leigh, Wendell Corey, Gordon Gebert
  • Directed by: Don Hartman

Holiday Affair is also one of the best Janet Leigh movies of all time! In fact, this movie is beloved — and often touted as one of the greatest Christmas movies ever. We can’t help but agree!

In Holiday Affair, Leigh plays a war widow who is caught in a shopping scheme during the Christmas season by a sales clerk (Mitchum). However, instead of alerting the authorities, he lets her slide — and loses his job in the process.

The two become close. Romance blossoms. But this romance threatens to ruin her plans to marry a safe and boring businessman (Corey). So, what will she do?

Related — The Best Old Hollywood Christmas Movies to Watch

5. Scaramouche (1952)

  • Genre: Action / Adventure / Comedy
  • Starring: Stewart Granger, Janet Leigh, Eleanor Parker, Mel Ferrer
  • Directed by: George Sidney

Who doesn’t love a fun swashbuckling adventure? Set in 18th-century France, Scaramouche follows a man (Granger) intent on getting revenge on the man (Ferrer) who killed his best friend. Along the way, he falls for a young lady (Leigh) who is set to marry the same man he wants to kill!

Related — The Top 10 Best Stewart Granger Movies of All Time

4. The Naked Spur (1953)

  • Genre: Western / Thriller / Drama
  • Starring: James Stewart, Janet Leigh, Robert Ryan, Ralph Meeker
  • Directed by: Anthony Mann

The Naked Spur is definitely one of the best Janet Leigh movies! This Western is thrilling, as the film follows an outlaw (Ryan) who tries to psychologically mess with the bounty hunter (Stewart) who caught him. Leigh plays a companion to Ryan’s outlaw, only to later learn what a vicious man he is!

Related — James Stewart: Essential Movies

3. The Manchurian Candidate (1962)

  • Genre: Thriller / Drama
  • Starring: Frank Sinatra, Laurence Harvey, Janet Leigh, Angela Lansbury
  • Directed by: John Frankenheimer

Of course, we can’t forget about the stellar film The Manchurian Candidate! While we think this film is one of the best Janet Leigh movies of all time, we’re not the only ones. This film is beloved — and also a part of the Criterion Collection (spine #803)!

In The Manchurian Candidate, a platoon of U.S. soldiers returns home from the Korean War after being captured by the enemy. They don’t realize they’ve been brainwashed, and one soldier (Harvey) of the group is even lauded as a hero. However, the platoon commander (Sinatra) feels that something is amiss… and launches an investigation to learn what’s wrong with them!

Leigh has a supporting role here as Frank Sinatra’s love interest!

Related — Laurence Harvey: Essential 1960s Movies

2. Touch of Evil (1958)

  • Genre: Film Noir / Crime / Drama
  • Starring: Charlton Heston, Orson Welles, Janet Leigh, Joseph Calleia
  • Directed by: Orson Welles

Touch of Evil is one of the best movies ever made! So, it’s also clearly one of the very best Janet Leigh movies of all time! In this thrilling film noir, Heston plays a narcotics agent who is set to investigate a dirty cop. However, he puts his new wife’s (Leigh) life at risk in the process — and it’s insane how it all goes down.

Related — Janet Leigh: Essential Movies

1. Psycho (1960)

  • Genre: Horror / Mystery / Thriller
  • Starring: Anthony Perkins, Janet Leigh, Vera Miles, John Gavin
  • Directed by: Alfred Hitchcock

Psycho is the absolute best Janet Leigh movie of all time, of course. How could it not be? This classic horror film remains one of the greatest movies around. To this day, this film is watched by so many — and rewatched and rewatched some more.

In Psycho, Leigh plays a woman on the run who stops at a motel to rest, only to find herself growing increasingly fearful of the motel’s proprietor (Perkins), an odd young man with a seemingly terrible relationship with his mother.

Leigh’s amazing performance here earned her an Oscar nomination for Best Actress! However, Elizabeth Taylor ended up winning for her work in Butterfield 8.

What’s Your Favorite Janet Leigh Movie?

Now, let’s hear from you. What’s your favorite Leigh film? Do you agree with this ranking? Any films we didn’t include that you feel we should’ve? Hit the comments below with all your thoughts and opinions! We’d love to hear what you think!

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