On February 5, 1943, The Outlaw officially opened at San Francisco’s Geary Theater. It was already a sensation after endless headlines and heavy promotion of Russell as he next big thing.
Hughes stunned everyone by pulling the film again before it finally opened nationwide in 1946, complete with skywriters looping enormous breasts across the heavens. Billboards screamed: “How would you like to tussle with Russell?” and “What are the two greatest reasons for Jane Russell’s rise to stardom?”
20th Century Fox president Darryl Zanuck demanded Breen do something about a film and publicity campaign he believed was tarnishing all of Hollywood.
In the end it was Hughes’ own hubris which saw the film dropped again. He promoted the film as “exactly as filmed” implying all the reported licentious shots were intact, when many had, in fact, been cut.
The Advertising Code Administration took him to court for false advertising, and won. All the major film distributors dropped the film, but local independent ones continued to play it.
It was ultimately a major hit, banking over $5million ($760million today) and Russell was on her way to being an iconic big screen bombshell.
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