Friday, May 9, 2008
Howard Hughes Censorship Case with Jane Russell: The Outlaw [Case File]
Directed by Howard Hughes
Starring Jane Russell
In 1943 Howard Hughes directed and released a highly controversial movie name "The Outlaw" staring the stunningly beautiful bombshell, Jane Russell.
The Outlaw launched Jane Russell's career and turned her into a Hollywood movie-star. The western genre movie is about a fictional relationship between Doc Holliday and Billy the Kid and their feud over a beautiful woman named Rio.
Howard Hughes was obsessed with Jane Russell's beauty, breasts and cleavage and wanted to sleep with her but she was happily married and devoutly Catholic. I know this because when I was a child, I asked Jane about this. More on that later.
To make a long story short, the film was considered to be way to racy and was censored in theaters across the United States. Howard turned to my Grandfather Jake and asked him to take the case. When they first discussed the case they had a huge ego clash.
Howard being a strong alpha male told Jake that he was close friends with William Randolf Hearst and he thought they should try and embarass the censors in the court of pubic opinion through the media.
Jake disagreed and told Howard the only way he would take the case was if Howard allowed Jake to handle the case in any way he saw fit. Howard was shocked because he was used to dictating to everybody. Jake and Howard argued back and forth and Howard finally agreed to trust Jake.
Jake subpoenaed paintings from the San Francisco De Young Museum that were considered to be classical masterpieces and had them placed under cloth covers in the court room.
When the trial began, Jake addressed the jury and said, "Ladies and Gentlmen of the jury, we bring our children and grandchildren to the De Young Museum and expose them to these paintings and tell them they are masterpieces that have marked the upward surge of mankind!!!"
He then had all the cloth covers removed to expose paintings of completely naked men and women in all kinds of strange and awkward sexual postions.
Then Jake said to the jury "Do you mean to tell me that we expose our children to this artwork where they see completely naked women, yet the fact that Howard has exposed a few inches of Mrs. Russell's bosom is somehow pornographic!?!"
The just immediately stopped Jake and dismissed the case. The judge then apologized to the jury for wasting their time.
On the surface the case may have seemed to be inconsequential, but the first ammendment implactions were deeply profound. Had this case gone in the opposite direction, the entire sexual revolution of the 60s may not have occurred.
Decades later in 1956 Jake took on the case of the Howl and the Censor which also had deeply profound long term first amendment implications.
Back to the Jane Russell story. When I was a child, members of my family were friends with Jane Russell. One day we were getting ready to go out to dinner with Jane and I asked my Aunt, Dora Jane, who was Jake's daughter, why Jane Russell was so famous and what her background was.
My aunt said she was a huge Hollywood Movie star and that there was a huge contravereay about whether or not she had an affair with Howard Hughes. Keep in mind at the time, i was twelve years old.
We were all sitting at the dinner table at a San Francisco restaurant named the Brazen Head in the San Francisco Marina. I was bored out of my skull with the adult conversation taking place which I could not relate to.
I kept staring at Jane Russell and I remember thinking to myself, "She is supposed to be some gorgeous sex bomb?" All I really new of Jane was that I used to see her on TV doing bra commercials which was just about as interesting to my 12 year old mind as walking on broken glass barefoot.
This just did not make sense to me because at the time I remember Jane had short hair almost cut like a man. There was a quite break at the table and I turned to Jane and said "So is it true that you had an affair with Howard Hughes?"
You should have seen the expression on Jane's face!!! and the table went completely silent. You could have heard a pin drop. I caught her and everybody at the table completely off guard!!
Jane starred at me with this look of shock on her face and then suddenly realized I was just a naive child with apparently no sense of fear around touchy subjects. She started to giggle and then everybody at the table started to laugh. I could not figure out what was so funny?
After Jane stopped laughing, she turned to me and said "No. We did not have an affair. I am not saying he did not want to, but I was happily married and not interested.
To be candid with you, I always wondered if Jane was being honest with me or if she was just embarrassed and did not want to tell the truth. We'll probably never know and it would probably be easier to figure out who killed J.F.K. than to figure out whether Jane Russell actually had an affair with Howard
Speaking of the J.F.K. Assassination, in later articles we are going to be looking into Jake's relationship to the case. As a matter of fact, when Oswald was arrested, his mother called Jake and asked him to represent her son. Of course before Jake could answer, Oswald was dead. The next day Jake got a call from Jack Ruby's brother asking him to represent her brother.
Jake was the first lawyer to interview Jack Rubenstien after he killed Oswald.
Also, kind of fascinating as the following article points out, Howard Hughes basically invented the underwire bra to emphasize Jane Russell's bosom as you will see. What a world!!!
The following is from an article in Wikipedia:
The Outlaw is a 1943 western movie, directed by Howard Hughes and Howard Hawks (uncredited), which turned Jane Russell into one of Hollywoods movie legends. The film also starred Jack Buetel, Thomas Mitchell, and WAlter Houston.
Although the movie was completed in 1941, it was released to only a limited showing two years later. It did not see a general release until 1946. The delay was a result of Hughes defying the Hays Code, which set the standard of morally acceptable content in motion pictures. By showcasing Jane Russell's breasts in both the movie and the poster artwork, The Outlaw became one of the most controversial pictures of its time. Hughes even created a new type of bra just for this movie.
In 1941, director Howard Hughes, while filming The Outlaw, felt that the camera did not do justice to Jane Russell's large bust. He employed his engineering skills to design an underwired, cantilevered bra to emphasise her assets. Hughes added rods of curved structural steel that were sewn into the brassiere below each breast. The rods were connected to the bra's shoulder straps. The arrangement allowed the breasts to be pulled upward and made it possible to move the shoulder straps away from the neck. The design allowed for any amount of bosom to be freely exposed.
Regardless, the emphasis on her breasts proved too much for the Hollywood Production Code Administration, which ordered cuts to the film. To obtain the Boards' required Seal of Approval, Hughes reluctantly removed about 40 feet, or a half-minute, of footage that featured Jane Russell's bosom. He still had problems getting the film distributed, so Hughes schemed to create a public outcry for his film to be banned. The resulting controversy generated enough interest to get The Outlaw into the theaters for one week in 1943, before being withdrawn due to objections by the Code censors. When the film was finally released in 1950, it was a box office hit.
Ironically, Russell later asserted that she never wore Hughes' bra, and that Hughes never noticed. 
Even after Hughes did an "end-run" around the censors, the film was banned on a local level by several towns.
The film was colorized twice.
If you want to read a fascinating article on the history of the Bra and how wearing one contribute to women developing breast cancer, click here.
The Outlaw 
You can watch the entire historic Outlaw movie directed by Howard Hughes, starring Jane Russell right here: