The Outlaw (1943) from Tuna

The Outlaw (1943) marked the film debut of Jane Russell, or, more importantly, her more than ample cleavage, in a Howard Hughes Western.

Doc Holiday arrives in town, and finds his old friend and partner in crime, Pat Garrett, has been elected sheriff. Doc is looking for a horse that was stolen from him, and finds the horse with no other than Billy the Kid, who bought, not stole it. Doc and Billy start a love/hate relationship, mainly fighting over possession of the horse, until Billy is shot, and taken by Doc to the home of Jane Russell (Rio), his girlfriend. Pat Garrett and a posse are after Doc, while Rio nurses Billy back to health. Garrett now deeply resents Billy for ruining his friendship with Doc, and is now after Doc as well. Rio falls for the attractive young Billy, and crawls naked into his bed to stop his chills, although we are only shown her taking off her stockings.

Billy recovers, and we are treated to a scandalous view of Russell's cleavage. Billy and Doc try to escape together, but Rio, now mad at Billy for preferring his horse to her, fills their canteens with sand and tips the sheriff as to their whereabouts. The rest of the story examines friendships, love and justice.


No nudity. See the main text for a description of why the film is considered a landmark in sexy cinema.
This film created a huge scandal due to Ms. Russell's costumes, and her implied pre-marital sex. At the time, it was banned outright in Finland and Sweden, and, until recently, was only available in a shortened version.

The DVD version is the full 120 minutes. Maltin gives it three stars, pointing out that the film is proof of Howard Hughes' interest in Russell's breasts.

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Only version available is 4:3, but is the fully-restored 120 minute version

  • No significant features

Is it a good film? Technically, it is good. The choppy transitions common in the early 40s are absent, although fade out/fade in is the most common transition between scenes. The score is overbearing, and sometimes overly cute, but it played well in 1943. The relationships are very interesting, but the dialogue is full of 40s slang. The depiction of the West is, of course, not even close to realistic, but Westerns back then never were. I must say I enjoyed it a lot, as much for its historical value as anything.

The Critics Vote

  • Maltin 3/4

The People Vote ...

  • With their votes ... IMDB summary: IMDb voters score it 5.6,
  • With their dollars ...It was a box office smash, although no numbers are available. Rental receipts alone are $5.057m
IMDb guideline: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence, about like three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, about like two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, about like two stars from the critics. Films under five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film, equivalent to about one and a half stars from the critics or less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

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