Thursday, February 12, 2004

One of those days when a dip in the bacta tank sounds really good. Got a store throat and feel like there are thistles stored behind my nose. This just had to happen on a Thursday, didn't it?

Last night I watched The Outlaw, directed by Howard Hughes. It was a bad movie. Apparently it's more famous for how it was marketed--advertisements focused mainly on Jane Russell's cleavage. It was only released briefly, then pulled when family associations and the like screamed for its blood. In light of the whole Janet Jackson thing, one's forced to note how the more things change, the more they stay the same.

And like Janet Jackson, Howard Hughes appears to have had almost no artistic talent. Originally, Howard Hawks (The Big Sleep) was supposed to direct The Outlaw but was fired because Hughes felt he had better ideas. These ideas seem generally to have consisted of bizarre, oddly-timed close-ups with a massive overuse of cresendoing orchestra for the soundtrack (not to mention an overuse of goofy "wa-wa-waaaa"s). At one point, Jane Russell's character decides to stay home. She says so, then walks out of frame, and we're subjected to several moments of the camera meaninglessly watching the empty wall while the music gets grand.

The story is simple enough. One day, Doc Holiday shows up in town (it's a western, by the way). He's friends with the sheriff, so they're hanging out when they discover that Billy the Kid had stolen Doc's horse--the actor in the role of Billy the kid is a monotonously charmless fellow who was obviously always polite to his elders in real life.

The Battle For the Horse is a running gag throughout the film, one of the many things which provoked me to scream, "Why don't you shoot him!"

Billy sleeps in the stable to protect his horse from Holiday. Billy's attacked here by a young woman named Rio (Jane Russell). She's awful mad about him having killed his brother. But then he rapes her so she can't help but love him. She loves him so much that, later, when he's been injured by a shotgun at point blank range, she patiently nurses him back to health, even pressing her naked body to him to keep him warm (for truly, the warmth of a woman is the cure for having your body scattered into pulpy meat--okay, so the shotgun only gave him a minor leg wound).

From the uncannily lustreless performances by Billy the Kid and Rio, to Rio's ridiculous figure, this movie feels like a porno. There are a number of scenes that fade to black, practically telling you, "And then they had sex." But of course, you never see any of the good stuff.

The moral hijinks--like Rio's rape--would have bothered me except I didn't believe for a single moment in anything that happened in this movie. It was filled with long, dull scenes that we can figure out the ending to long before they reach said end . . .

Why did I watch it? Well, it's Howard Hughes!

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