In 1966, Sharon Tate was on the verge of what might (or might not) have become a glittering career, as she took a supporting but important role in the remarkable, star-driven occult drama Eye of the Devil, where she played a mysterious, beautiful witch. It was her first role of any significance, her career to this point consisting of little more than extra work as she was developed under the eye of producer Martin Ransohoff.
As part of the selling of both the film and of Tate as a new star, a ten-minute puff piece called All Eyes on Sharon Tate was produced. “She’s today’s kind of girl, bursting with youth, beauty, vitality – and hope” says the breathless narrator at the start, a moment that feels almost painful, given how all four of those things would be snatched away during the unpleasantness of just three years later.
Elsewhere, director J. Lee Thompson states that Tate had two weeks to prove her worth or she’d be “put back into cold storage”, but that “very soon, we realised that here was a girl who was tremendously exciting”, while Tate herself admits that she probably wouldn’t be doing Shakespeare any time but would like to move into light comedy. Watching Eye of the Devil, you can’t help but think that she was actually most suited to the supernatural – her performance in this film is spot on, being cold yet seductive, sinister yet attractive. predictably, after her death rumours swirled around from idiots that Tate had somehow seen initiated into witchcraft during the production by the production’s consultant and self-styled ‘king of the witches’ Alex Sanders, and that this somehow played a part in her death.
Eye of the Devil didn’t do much box office, but her time filming in England did allow her to meet Roman Polanski. The two became a couple and… well, you know the rest.