Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Please Stop Dying!

RIP: Jane Russell.

Some of my favorites:

HIS KIND OF WOMAN (1951) opposite Robert Mitchum, directed by the great John Farrow. Odd crime film that takes place in a Baja resort where gangster Raymond Burr is trying to force ultra-cool gambler Mitchum to get back into the United States without the law finding out about it. Mitchum's in love with singer Russell - but is she part of the scheme or not? Kind of breezy, loose plot that almost feels like a comedy at times.

MACAO (1952) again opposite Robert Mitchum with the great Josef Von Sterberg directing. Again, Russell plays a singer - this time on a ship to Macao where she has a night club gig. Mitchum is living in exile in Macao and his only way back to the USA is to take down a crime syndicate... which owns the night club Russell is singing in. And this is one of the William Bendix/Mitchum movies.

DARKER THAN AMBER (1970) based on a John D. MacDonald novel, with Rod Taylor playing Travis McGee and Thedore Bikel playing Meyer and Robert Clouse (ENTER THE DRAGON) directing. Russell plays The Alabama Tigress - a neighbor of McGee's who was a man in the books... but she plays the role perfectly even though she's a woman. This film is not on DVD, and hard to find anywhere without being cut down to nada. It's one of those kick-ass action flicks from the 70s that was neutered for TV... and the theatrical version seems not to exist any more.

But those are the movies of Jane Russell's that *I* love, she's best known for:

THE OUTLAW (1943) - the risque western directed by Howard Hughes about Pat Garrett starring Janes Russell's boobs (the poster shows her with cleavage reclined in hay... almost offering a roll in it) - she plays Billy The Kid's girlfriend.

THE PALEFACE (1948) - quasi remake of the Keaton short starring Bob Hope, with Russell playing Calamity Jane.

GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (1953) with that other pair, Marilyn Monroe, as a pair of singers who leave their boring lives behind to become sensations in Paris... and find love along the way. Plus the sequel - GENTLEMEN MARRY BRUNETES with Jeane Crain instead of Marilyn.

The other RIP is Gary Winick, producer of a bunch of films and founder of InDigEnt films - which made indie films on digital formats for pocket change with biog name stars who just wanted to act in a movie where they weren't replaced by CGI every other scene. He produced and directed TADPOLE with Sigorney Weaver and Bebe Neuwirth and Ron Rifkin and John Ritter at a cost of $250k - and if you haven't seen it, it's a great little film! He made TAPE and PERSONAL VELOCITY and PIECES OF APRIL and many others - and even though I don't like everything he produced, he gave a voice to filmmakers who we would never have heard of without InDigEnt. As a director he made 13 GOING ON 30 and CHARLOTTE'S WEB and LETTERS TO JULIET and many others. He was 49 years old - too young to die. But he leaves behind many cool indie films. He'll be missed.

- Bill

1 comment:

Sam T. said...

This is sad. She was in person at the Hollywood Heritage Museum just a few months ago. I could not go but I saw a few clips of her and she looked and sounded fine. I was sad to hear the news. Rest in peace.

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