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Outlaw, The (1943) - B&W - 116 min

Howard Hughes' production of The Outlaw is an interesting piece of film history for many reasons. While it was finished in 1940, it was dropped by 20th Century Fox due to critics' pans and the censors balking at Jane Russell's bulging cleavage. It seems Hughes Aircraft engineers even designed a special cantilevered bra to enhance Russell's attributes, long before her role in the Playtex cross your heart, lift and seperate bra commercials. (the gun control lobby today would be throwing fits, as Russell was packing a pair of 38s). In addition, famed director Howard Hawks was fired during production by Hughes, as there was some animosity between Russell and Hawks, and at the time, Russell was Howard Hughes' girlfriend.

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Outlaw, The
Directed by - Howard Hughes

(1943) - B&W - 116 min
Fearing a financial disaster, Hughes tried a proven marketing ploy... call a bunch of ministers, bridge clubs, and church ladies to complain about the excessive exposure of Jane Russell's chest. In town's everywhere, protesters were on hand, advance photos were plastered all over the place, and in many parts of the USA, it was banned (it was also banned in Finland and Sweden). By today's standards, one wonders what all the fuss is about... the realtionships between Billy, Doc Holliday, Pat Garrett and Billy's horse are much more disturbing. Many parts of it feel like a weird, still in the closet gay movie, as Billy seems more interested in Doc than Rio (Jane Russell), and Pat Garrett acts like a jilted boyfriend with his relationship with Doc. All this is probably a reflection of Howard Hughes weirdness. So check it out - the full uncut version, and see if you don't agree - this is one really weird, campy, lame movie. It is hard to believe people were clamouring to see it... or that war bonds were sold at the intermission.

Part one
Intro, B&W, credits, etc. - We meet Billy the kid, played by unknown newcomer, Jack Buetel and his new buddy, Doc Holliday, played by Walter Huston. We also meet the new sheriff, Pat Garrett, played by Thomas Mitchell. Check out Thomas Mitchell as Dr. Josiah Boone in John Ford's classic western, Stagecoach, where he won an Oscar for best supporting actor. You might also recognize Mitchell from It's a Wonderful Life, where he played Uncle Billy Bailey. We also meet the lovely Rio, played by Jane Russell in her debut performance. She meets up with Billy in the notorious scene in the hay, where Billy tells her - Hold still lady, or you won't have much dress left!

introducing Jane Russell as Rio

introducing Jack Buetel as Billy the Kid

Part two
Billy meets up with a bounty hunter who tries to trick him and shoot him in the back, but Billy ends up killing him with the old fast draw, but then gets shot by Pat Garrett who confronts him about the killing. Doc takes him to his girlfriend's adobe, Rio's little hacienda, where he instructs her on how to nurse Billy back to health.

Thomas Mitchell as Pat Garrett

Part three
Rio nurses Billy back to health and ends up falling for the kid. Part three features the first of the notorious cleavage shots - which caused such consternation. Doc comes back, and is not happy that Billy snaked his girlfriend - but isn't too upset as Doc and Billy decide to ride off together. This is weird stuff, I have no idea how one leaves Rio for riding off with Doc, and what's with the horse?

Outlaw, The Message Board

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Outlaw, The
Directed by - Howard Hughes

Starring - Jane Russell as Rio, Jack Buetel as Billy the Kid, Walter Huston as Doc Holliday, Thomas Mitchell as Pat Garrett, Joe Sawyer as Charley, Mimi Aguglia as Guadalupe, Gene Rizzi as the stranger. Also features a remarkable writing team of Jules Furthman, Howard Hawks, and Ben Hecht.

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Walter Huston as Doc Holliday

Part four
Billy and Doc share some quality time by the campfire.... and later Billy rides off back to Rio and Doc gets nabbed by Pat Garrett. More infamous scenes with Jane Russell in a slinky top with Hughes custom cantilevered bra, and then they head out back to Doc. Rio gets tied up... and things look bad for the boys - till some Indians show up looking for some scalps. Part four ends with the bizarre dusty getaway scene, with buxom Rio riding a horse (on a bluescreen set) that looks to fake for words. hilarious!

Billy the kid (Jack Buetel) likes his horse more than Jane Russell

Part five
If you are still watching - you have the patience of a saint. So we won't wreck the final scenes or tell you a thing about the ending. Hard to believe that this film did well at the box office. Which brings to mind the famous words of P.T. Barnum - No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American people.

Jane Russell as Rio riding a horse trying to outrun the Indians

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