Janet Leigh in Kid Rodelo

Janet Leigh is not best known for her work in westerns, but the beautiful actress did star in the fantastic Old West thriller The Naked Spur and she appeared twice on the popular western television series The Virginian. However, in 1966 (though made in 1965) she also co-starred in another western film, Kid Rodelo.

For whatever reasons, Kid Rodelo remains rather obscure. It was released theatrically in 1966 and it played on TV often in the early '70s, though I'm guessing that the lack of a proper home video release was a big factor in the continuing unpopularity of this movie. Thankfully, mainly due to the internet, fans and curious viewers now have the opportunity to see this fine film.

Based on a Louis L'Amour book, Kid Rodelo is about a cleverly hidden cache of stolen gold and the men who will die to get it. Janet Leigh plays Nora, the only female character, a woman who was with one of the men who was after the gold. After that man dies early on, Nora sticks with Kid Rodelo (played by Don Murray), presumably because he seems like the smartest (and cleanest) guy left fighting for the treasure.

With a stark and effective musical score and a straightforward but intriguing story, Kid Rodelo is a pretty good western (to its benefit, the movie also features a great performance from screen veteran Broderick Crawford). Though some people (i.e. people who don't watch that many westerns and/or low budget films) may be slightly put off by the sometimes clunky editing and generally rough nature of the filmmaking, it's nevertheless an entertaining and engaging piece of cinema. 

Regardless of the quality of the film, Janet Leigh is does a terrific job in her role and she looks absolutely gorgeous throughout. She made this movie inbetween higher profile motion picture projects, but she had been working on the silver screen for nearly twenty years at this point and her consummate professionalism really shows here. Her huge screen presence and innate charm are perfectly on display in Kid Rodelo, just as they are in her more popular efforts. Any Janet Leigh fan would be well advised to take a look at her in this neat little western romp.