These days, you'd be hard-pressed to find a movie poster that isn't exploiting some "shocking" element of perverse culture.
Sex, drugs, rock and roll...er, foul language - there's nothing a studio won't touch (or photograph) to get your butt in the seat for their movies. While parent groups and the MPAA board actively fight to censor Hollywood ("Think of the children!"), the leniency on sultry advertising has certainly loosened up in modern times.
But it wasn't always so, as the busty, leading lady Jane Russell learned the hard way back in the 1940s. Russell, who the New York Times reports passed away on Monday from a respiratory-related illness at the age of 89, was a singer and actress first discovered by the wild Howard Hughes (go rent "The Aviator" for more on that) and cast in his gritty Western picture, "The Outlaw." Perhaps, a bit too gritty for the public's taste.
A notorious poster for "The Outlaw" depicted Russell sprawled across a bed of hay, donning a pistol and a shirt that had a few buttons missing (OK, it didn't have buttons). Basically, it was a pin-up - a graphic that, apparently, had no place in the movie world. The imagery lit a fire under Hollywood, which blocked the film for almost a decade, before finally seeing national release in 1950.
But it didn't keep Russell and her 38D bust size from gaining traction and becoming a star, going on to nab roles in over 25 films, like Bob Hope's Western "The Paleface," and the Marilyn Monroe film "Gentleman Prefer Blonds." A large portion of her career was spent on stage, even landing gigs in Vegas in the '50s. The man was not keeping her down.
Russell's legacy is apparent when you see everyone from "Scott Pilgrim" director Edgar Wright to famed critic Roger Ebert to Katy Perry tweeting 140 character obits in her honor. Perry wrote "R.I.P the original BOMBSHELL, Jane Russell. Love you, we'll miss you," while Ebert didn't hesitate to speak the truth: "Jane Russell, RIP. Not all gentlemen preferred blondes."
Later in life, Russell turned towards conservative values and religious practices, but her legacy as a voluptuous movie star helped break the standard for what could and could not be depicted in the world of film.
Just think: without Russell, would we have the envelope-pushing posters for "Skins," the grisly imagery of "Saw," a movie with a title like "Little Fockers" or Christina Hendricks? Someone had to open those doors, and one of those ladies was Jane Russell.
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