Jane Russell - detail from The Outlaw - Movie Poster Framed Picture 11"x14"
The Outlaw is a 1943 American Western film, directed by Howard Hughes and starring Jack Buetel, Jane Russell, Thomas Mitchell, and Walter Huston. Hughes also produced the film, while Howard Hawks served as an uncredited co-director. The film is notable as Russell's breakthrough role, turning the young actress into a sex symbol and a Hollywood icon. Later advertising billed Russell as the sole star.
Hughes had trouble getting it approved by Hollywood Production Code Administration due to its emphasis on and display of Russell's breasts. The Production Administration set the standard for morally acceptable content in motion pictures and they ordered cuts to the film. Hughes reluctantly removed about half-minute of footage that prominently featured Russell's bosom. However, Century-Fox cancelled their agreement with Hughes to release The Outlaw. Hughes stood to lose millions of dollars.
He schemed to create a public outcry for his film to be banned. Hughes had all his managers call ministers, women's clubs and housewives telling them about the 'lewd picture' Hughes was about to release starring Jane Russell. The public responded by protesting and trying to have the film banned, which turned into just the publicity Hughes needed to create demand for the film and get it released. The resulting controversy generated enough interest to get The Outlaw into the theaters for one week in 1943, when it was pulled due to violations of the Production Code. It was finally released widely on 23 April 1946, when United Artists premiered the film in San Francisco, when it became a box office hit.