|Vintage Pulp||Feb 5 2018|
We suspect what was outlawed was Howard Hughes' directorial career.
The Outlaw is reputed to be a terrible movie. Since it premiered today in 1943 we thought we'd give it a glance, and guess what? It's terrible. Howard Hughes directed it when he still fancied himself a man with artistic talent, and the main takeaway is that the Dunning-Kruger Effect is more than just a theory. His adoration of Jane Russell radiates from each of her scenes, but in overall execution the movie flops in every area except infuriating the era's movie censors. It's accidentally funny, though.
Billy the Kid: “Doc, if you're not already fixed up you can bunk with me tonight.”
Doc Holliday: “No thanks, Billy. I've got a girl. She and her aunt just moved in town. You got a girl, Billy?”
Billy the Kid: “Naw. I ain't got nothin'. Except that horse.”
On the other hand, the film is also terribly unfunny. Wikipedia says it's implied that Billy rapes Jane Russell's character Rio McDonald in a barn. We're here to tell you it may be implied visually and in the dialogue that drifts out of those obscuring shadows, but as a matter of plot it's a dead certainty that's what happens. And she's his friend's lady, the one discussed in the above dialogue exchange. Billy is just a bad guy. But you know exactly what happens next, right? Rio falls in love with Billy. But he remains a dick:
Rio McDonald: “What are you waiting for? Go ahead.”
Billy the Kid: “Say that sounds real nice. I like to hear you ask for it. Beg some more.”
Rio McDonald: “What would you like me to say?”
Billy the Kid: “Well you might say please very sweetly.”
Rio McDonald: “Please.”
Billy the Kid: “Will you keep your eyes open?”
Rio McDonald: “Yes.”
Billy the Kid: “Will you look right at me while I do it?”
The music alone during that scene could drive you from the room. And what does Billy do to Rio after he's had his way with her yet again? Ties her by her wrists and ankles and leaves her in the hot sun to roast to death. Holliday rescues her and opines that Billy must really be in love with her to do something so cruel. Um... okay. This is another great exchange:
Billy the Kid: “I think I'd rather have that cuckoo clock do the counting for me.”
Doc Holliday: “Yeah that's good enough. It's gonna strike in a minute.”
Billy the Kid: “Shall we pull on the last cuckoo?
We're pretty sure Hughes was pulling on his cuckoo when he made this, but luckily he never directed again. Amazingly, even though the film is awful, everything associated with it is collectible, including the promo poster above, which if you wanted to buy would cost you $56,000. Not the original painting. An original print. At least that's what one ambitious soul is asking for it. We suspect the separation between the quality of The Outlaw and the cost of its memorabilia is the largest of any film in American history. Watch it if you dare.