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Archive for the ‘Jane Russell’ Category

Directed by Allan Dawn
Produced by Howard Welsch
Screen Play by Horace McCoy & Norman S. Hall
Story by M. Coates Webster & Howard Welsch
Director Of Photography: Jack Marta
Film Editor: Arthur Roberts
Special Effects: Howard & Theodore Lydecker
Music by Nathan Scott

Cast: Jane Russell (Belle Starr), George Brent (Tom Bradfield), Scott Brady (Bob Dalton), Forrest Tucker (Mac), Andy Devine (Pete Bivins), Jack Lambert (Ringo), John Litel (Matt Towner), Ray Teal (Emmett Dalton), Rory Mallinson (Grat Dalton), Mike Ragan (Ben Dalton), Roy Barcroft (Jim Clark), Glenn Strange, George Chesebro, Iron Eyes Cody

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That photo of Jane Russell’s gorgeous Mercedes prompted me to revisit Allan Dwan’s Montana Belle (1952), which I’ve been meaning to do for quite a while.

I really like Jane Russell. She made some really cool movies, including Son Of Paleface (1952), one of my all-time favorites. She didn’t take herself too seriously, didn’t take any crap from Howard Hughes (or anybody else, it seems) and wasn’t afraid to be who she was. Plus, she drove that car!

In late October and November, 1948 — the same year she appeared in The Paleface, Russell made Montana Belle. It was produced by Howard Welsch for his Fidelity Pictures. Welsch had an arrangement with Republic to use their facilities, standard crew (such as DP Jack Marta) and Trucolor. Allan Dwan, who was directed pictures for Republic at the time, signed on. Republic would handle distribution.

Detail from a Serbin Golfer ad, promoting Montana Belle as a Republic picture.

In April of ’49, Welsch sold the completed Montana Belle to RKO for $875,000 — he and Republic split about $225,000 in profits. Then, the picture fell victim to the typical RKO/Howard Hughes weirdness. It was released by RKO in November of 1952, a full four years after Dwan shot it.

The story has Belle Starr (Russell) involved with the Dalton gang, then forming her own outlaw band, and finally giving it all up for the love of a saloon owner (George Brent). Along the way, Jane impersonates a fella and dons a blonde wig to pass as a saloon singer and gambler.

Montana Belle is at its best when all the riding, robbing and shooting’s going on — well directed by Dwan and captured in Trucolor by Jack Marta (would love to see this get the restoration other Trucolor pictures have received lately).

Jane Russell isn’t as comfortable in front of the camera as she’d later become, with pictures like Macao and Son Of Paleface (both 1952), but she handles herself pretty well here. George Brent has an interesting part, or maybe he makes the part interesting. And the rest of the cast is made up of real veterans at this kind of stuff: Scott Brady, Forrest Tucker, Andy Devine, Jack Lambert, Ray Teal, Roy Barcroft and Iron Eyes Cody. Dwan and Brady would later do another overlooked little 50s Western, The Restless Breed (1957).

Montana Belle is available overseas in a PAL DVD that I’ll bet looks pretty crummy. Since it’s officially an RKO picture, it’s not part of the Republic stash over at Paramount. With Allan Dwan getting a much-deserved mini-reappraisal in recent years, it’d sure be great to see this one get a decent DVD, or better yet Blu-Ray, release. It’s no classic, but it’s easy to recommend it anyway.

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This is a bit of a stretch for this blog, but I couldn’t NOT share this.

This 1969 Mercedes Benz 280SL, one of the prettiest cars I’ve ever seen, belonged to Jane Russell of Montana Belle and Son Of Paleface (both 1952).

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Walter Huston listens to (or pretends to) producer/director Howard Hughes.

Directed by Howard Hughes (and Howard Hawks)
Starring Jack Buetel, Jane Russell, Thomas Mitchell, Walter Huston, Joe Sawyer

Going in, The Outlaw (1943) had so much going for it. Howard Hughes and Gregg Toland behind the camera. A cast that boasted Thomas Mitchell, Walter Huston and the great Joe Sawyer, working from a script Ben Hecht worked on. And all set to music by Victor Young.

In the end, The Outlaw is known more for the crazy brassiere Hughes designed for Jane Russell (that she says she didn’t wear) and its trouble with the censors than anything else. There are times when everything clicks — writing, acting, direction, cinematography — and The Outlaw shows real promise. If Howard Hughes had left things to Howard Hawks, we might have an extra great Western on our hands.

Kino Lorber is bringing a spiffed-up (2K restoration) The Outlaw to DVD and Blu-Ray in February. I’m really looking forward to it — this is a film I’ve been meaning to revisit for quite a while.

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Directed by Frank Tashlin
Starring Bob Hope, Jane Russell, Roy Rogers

There’s been some debate out there as to whether this counts as a 50s Western, and some have said they don’t care for comedy Westerns in general. But for me, Son Of Paleface (1952) is one of my all-time favorite films.

This was once available on the old HD DVD discs. Remember those? Now it’s coming to Blu-Ray this Summer from Kino Lorber, along with The Lemon Drop Kid (1951) and a couple of the Hope-Crosby Road pictures, Road To Rio (1947) and Road To Bali (1952). It’s all good stuff.

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Here’s a cool AP photo from 1951, chronicling Jane Russell’s tub scene in Son Of Paleface (1952). Click it and it gets bigger.

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sonofpaleface4

Leslie Townes “Bob” Hope
(May 29, 1903 – July 27, 2003)

He’s not a cowboy star. But his Son Of Paleface (1952) — directed by Frank Tashlin and co-starring Jane Russell and Roy Rogers (and Trigger, seen here) — is not only one of the best Western spoofs, but I’d hold it up as a strong contender for Funniest Movie Ever Made.

Bob Hope would be 110 today. And while most of those TV specials are wretched, his movies of the 40s and 50s are terrific and ripe for re-evaluation. OK, now I gotta watch Son Of Paleface.

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russell-demille-tashlin-hope sized

Frank Tashlin
(February 19, 1913 – May 5, 1972)

Today would’ve been writer-director-genius Frank Tashlin’s 100th birthday. Here he is (second from right) on the set of Son Of Paleface (1952) with Jane Russell, Cecil B. DeMille (who has a cameo in this scene) and Bob Hope.

A number of people have written in to say they don’t like comedy Westerns (or is it Western comedies?). But every so often, I have to pay tribute to this film. It’s hysterically funny, Roy Rogers is terrific in it, and Ivan likes it as much as I do. One of my favorites.

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