Monday, September 26, 2011

Film | Montana Belle (1952)

 First of all... thanks to everyone who visited the blog from the Fashion In Film Blogathon! I didn't expect such a great response for the Letty Lynton post and the revived interest in the Sketch To Screen: All About Eve post. I also would like to thank everyone who has started following this blog... Blame Mame now has 30 followers!

And here we have the next post in the Jane Russell Filmography Project. This time we have 1952's Montana Belle... and outlawish western with action, music, and a love triangle.

After Jane Russell's career started with the scandalous western The Outlaw, it would take many years before she could break that typecast. In her early career, she only seemed to play 'the outlaw.' This is no different in the film Montana Belle. This film was shot in late 1948 at Republic Studios, but its release was held up for 4 years by Howard Hughes.  Being displeased with the film, he bought the picture from Republic for $600,000 because he didn't want the release of the film to hinder Jane's career in anyway. He would go on to re-cut the film and add a few scenes to make it a better vehicle for Russell.
The film is a fictional story about western outlaw Belle Star, who was recently saved from a lynching by the notorious Dalton gang. While at the gang's hide out, she falls for one of the boys and plans to run away with him after their next robbery. When the law shows up to arrest Star when the boys are away, Belle believes they sent them to capture her. From then on, it is her sole mission to bring the Dalton gang down and start her own gang of thieves. All is going well until the Belle Star Gang hides out in a casino and Belle meets the sophisticated owner Tom Bradfield. He changes her mind on how life can be, and she tries to get away from the life she built for herself in order to be with Bradfield... the only problem? Her Dalton boy lover wants her for himself.

While this was not a masterpiece, it was a fun movie to watch. At a running time of 81 minutes there was enough of a story to keep you interested and some musical numbers (which were Jane Russell's idea to add) to keep the story going. While I find it hard to believe Russell as a western outlaw (especially since I see her as the classy Dorothy Shaw), she does a very good job playing hard and rough. Definitely worth seeing if you are a fan of Ms. Russell or a good ol' fashioned western flick.

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