Re: The First "Un-Censored" Movie / "The Outlaw"

From: David P. Hayes
Newsgroups: rec.arts.movies.past-films
Date: Monday, September 21, 1998 11:39 AM wrote in message <6u4cgr$dod$>…
>Howard Hughes caused the first breach of the Code when he exhibited THE OUTLAW
>(US 1943) without a Seal of Approval. Billy the Kid, a criminal and moral
>transgressor, a his girl Rio, a moral transgrssor only, were able to ride off
>into the sunset without reaping any of the just deserts demanded by the Code.

Not true. Producer Howard Hughes got a seal of approval for his 1940-41 production after he made the few changes insisted upon by the Production Code Administration. He had to remove about 40 feet (about a half-minute), at various points, of shots (and frames at the ends of shots) that displayed too much of Jane Russell's bosom. Also, and requiring more effort, he had to add and change dialogue so that Billy the Kid (Jack Butel) and Rio (Jane) married. It's not much of a marriage, and Rio even tells another man that Billy was not aware of the marriage because he was suffering from chills at the time; after this disclosure, the marriage is never mentioned again. Still, this is how Hughes was able to show Russell climbing into bed with Butel: she sees that he needs to made warm, so she instructs her friend to bring the preacher by, then pulls back his blankets to that she can join him.

Hughes played up the notoriety of the film in two years of publicity before issuing the film in 1943--two years after getting the Seal. (This is why the year of the film is sometimes given as 1941 instead of 1943.) When Hughes decided to reissue the film in 1946, the five-year life of the original Seal had expired, so he had to re-apply. This time, the PCA wasn't so tolerant as they had been in 1941; they knew what had aroused public interest in the film. Many cuts were demanded, and the film was much shorter in 1946 than it had been in 1943.

David Hayes


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