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An account of the conflict between Billy The Kid (Jack Beutel), Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) and Pat Garrett (Thomas Mitchell). Billy makes friends with Doc and then steals his gal, Rio (Jane Russell).

"Finding out what excited audiences and threw censors into a spin in 1943 is about the only reason to invest in this example of rich man's folly. Howard Hughes' obsession with Jane Russell's cleavage is the major talking point in an otherwise amateurish account of the conflict between Billy The Kid (the stupefyingly wooden Jack Beutel), Doc Holliday (Walter Huston) and Pat Garrett (Thomas Mitchell). Jules Furthman's script and the performances of all concerned, even Walter Huston, barely rise above high school show standard as Billy makes friends with Doc and then steals his gal Rio (Jane Russell).

This is a stiff and creaky old oater which is more interesting for its homosexual undercurrent than the odd moments of steam between Billy and Rio. It's a wonder the sissy rivalry between Garrett and Billy for Holliday's friendship hasn't shown up in documentaries about gay Hollywood. "You're the only partner I ever had" says a tearful Billy to his new pal Doc. Fascination with the legend of the film made me buy it and for less than $20 it's worth it on that count, as long as you don't expect much from the film itself.

The 1943 release (shot in 1941) looks dreadful in colorised form, with Holliday's green and black checked pants taking the prize for worst eyesore. Greg Toland's photography at least looks better in the 1947 re-release although it's a long slog at 117 minutes (the box incorrectly lists the running time at 107mins). At the budget end of the market this is a reasonable purchase for the curious who'll probably be amused to discover the chapter listing on the back cover lags one short of the chapters on screen, Holliday is misspelled Halliday and the Jane Russell biography concludes with the line 'she really is a talented actress!!'"
Richard Kuipers

Published March 15, 2001

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OUTLAW, THE (1943) (G)

CAST: Jane Russell, Jack Beutel, Walter Huston
DIRECTOR: Howard Hughes
RUNNING TIME: 97min / 107 mins

DVD RELEASE: November 2000

1943 release (colorised)
1947 re-release (b/w)
Jane Russell Biography/Filmography
Howard Hughes Biography/Filmography
Stills/Poster Gallery

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