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And the West is History: Janet Leigh & Tony Curtis on set of “The Naked Spur” – 1952

In June 1952, top Hollywood studio MGM came to the mountains north of Durango to film “The Naked Spur.” Filmed in Technicolor and entirely on location with no interior sets, the movie had only five actors. One of the five was young starlet Janet Leigh, who later become famous for her role in “Psycho.” Also in the cast was Jimmy Stewart and Robert Ryan. Leigh brought her new husband, actor Tony Curtis, along with her to Durango, though he had no role in the film. They are pictured here on a break between scenes. This photo was taken by Bernice Gardner, a young teacher who worked at El Rancho Escantado (later the Golden Horseshoe) that summer. The guest ranch served as a location for some scenes and was where many of the cast and crew stayed. Considered one of the best cinematic westerns of its time, the film accentuated complex psychological character development over simple western shoot ’em up action. The movie includes many local landmarks, including Engineer Peak, Purgatory Flats, Spud Mountain and the Animas River around Baker’s Bridge. Uncharacteristically for westerns filmed here in the period, the D&RGW train was not used. Curtis and Leigh were the parents of actress Jamie Lee Curtis. – Ed Horvat for Animas Museum, edhorvat@animasmuseum (Catalog Number: 21.02.2 from the La Plata County Historical Society Photo Collections)