The Sizzling Jane Russell

Crimson

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Born on this day 100 years ago

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ginnyfan

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Today I watched a new Jane Russell movie, to me, Foxfire (1955) and I really enjoyed it. A decent effort from everyone involved, it's a love story set in the Arizona desert, shot in glorious Technicolor, in fact the last movie to be shot in that process., before different versions of Eastmancolor took over. Jane has that short 50s bob but she pulls it off and looks hot in the desert. She plays a really great character and the rest of the cast is also good, with Jeff Chandler playing her sometimes wooden husband and Dan Duryea who is not as sleazy as you'd expect him to be.

I would recommend it to those interesting in Jane or going through her filmography, it's probably one of her better performances and movies. I mean, it is a basic, predictable story but it's enjoyable and never boring.















 

Caproni

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I recall seeing some of FOXFIRE when TCM aired it once. I don't really remember watching it, or what it was about necessarily, but I do remember finding the movie absolutely breathtaking. Jane was one of those actresses that was made to be shot in Technicolor, with her dark hair and distinct features. She photographs beautifully when done correctly.

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FOXFIRE was one of Jane's mid-'50s duds, at least at the box office. After THE TALL MEN, which she did with Gable, none of her movies did too well, unless one counts THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER, which did okay financially.​
 

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I would recommend it to those interesting in Jane or going through her filmography, it's probably one of her better performances and movies. I mean, it is a basic, predictable story but it's enjoyable and never boring.

It's not a movie that I instantly think of as one of her best, FOXFIRE is a pretty solid film. It's very atypical of her movies, being a somewhat grounded drama and dealing with, in a surprisingly frank way for the mid-50s, an interracial relationship. I'm not wild about her short hair in the film, but she still looks beautiful; cinematography was by William Daniels (who had filmed Greta Garbo a number of times).

The movie came at an interesting time in her career. She was still under contract to Hughes, but he had disinterested himself in the industry. This left Jane with more freedom than she ever had before, and she sought out a few roles beyond her norm. THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER is a better movie, but both show Jane could have been a good actress if she had better material to work with.
 

Caproni

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It's not a movie that I instantly think of as one of her best, FOXFIRE is a pretty solid film. It's very atypical of her movies, being a somewhat grounded drama and dealing with, in a surprisingly frank way for the mid-50s, an interracial relationship.
From what I do remember about the movie, which ain't much, I'd say it was fairly solid as well. But I hadn't any recollection of the interracial relationship subplot, so that shows you just how much I remember.​
I'm not wild about her short hair in the film, but she still looks beautiful; cinematography was by William Daniels (who had filmed Greta Garbo a number of times).
I'm not terribly crazy about short hair on women at all, but I think it looked okay on Jane, especially when it was styled correctly. With William Daniels having the experience of directing someone like Garbo, I'm sure he had not issues finding the most flattering ways to photograph Jane. Garbo was beautiful, and she could be breathtaking when photographed at her best.​
 

Caproni

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ginnyfan

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It's not a movie that I instantly think of as one of her best, FOXFIRE is a pretty solid film. It's very atypical of her movies, being a somewhat grounded drama and dealing with, in a surprisingly frank way for the mid-50s, an interracial relationship. I'm not wild about her short hair in the film, but she still looks beautiful; cinematography was by William Daniels (who had filmed Greta Garbo a number of times).

The movie came at an interesting time in her career. She was still under contract to Hughes, but he had disinterested himself in the industry. This left Jane with more freedom than she ever had before, and she sought out a few roles beyond her norm. THE REVOLT OF MAMIE STOVER is a better movie, but both show Jane could have been a good actress if she had better material to work with.

Once again, what you wrote reminds me that even though Hughes created her, he also destroyed her . I mean, whenever Jane was loaned out to other studios, she blossomed and did her best work. Gentleman Prefer Blondes, The Tall Men and Mamie Stover at FOX, Bob Hope comedies at Paramount, Foxfire at Universal. All of these movies look glorious in Technicolor, classy and are great or good. But at Hughes RKO, outside of her 2 Mitchum noirs (which are not really that good but their pairing worked), it was pretty much sexploitation stuff that looked cheap and just bad. RKO was falling apart in the 50s and it showed in their product. Hughes destroyed the studio and Jane's career, even though she had a lucrative contract with him. I can imagine her flourishing at FOX where she could have done more classy, colorful musicals or at Universal in Ross Hunter's glossy melodramas. Such a waste....





 

Caproni

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Poor Jane had to deal with the best and worst that came with her association with Hughes. On the positive side, she had the security of his long-time financial support and the fact that he ignited her career when she was still a teenager. But on the negative side, she had to deal with his mismanagement of her career, the weak movies he assembled for her, and sexy image he created for her.

I've only seen pieces of HIS KIND OF WOMAN and MACAO (her two movies with Robert Mitchum), but those movies are definitely elevated by the chemistry Jane and Robert share. Other than that, they're not very good movies. Her PALEFACE comedies with Bob Hope are quite good, but it is true the majority of Jane's greatest efforts came from when RKO loaned her out.

Had she stayed somewhere like Fox, she might've done more glittery musicals like GENTLEMEN PREFER BLONDES (which is, in my opinion, her greatest film), or had she stuck around with Universal, she might've ended up in some soapy melodramas.

But, alas, we got what we got.

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RKO was falling apart in the 50s and it showed in their product. Hughes destroyed the studio and Jane's career, even though she had a lucrative contract with him.

Although technically under contract to Hughes, Jane was the de facto Queen of the RKO lot in the 50s; but it wasn't much of a reign, with Hughes' meddling hastening the downfall of that studio. Hughes' tastes were puerile and vulgar; his management style was chaotic. HIS KIND OF WOMAN and MACAO probably would have been good -- maybe even great -- films, if Hughes hadn't tinkered with them endlessly. The rest of his films with Jane were terrible.

Certainly she would have fared better if she had been at Paramount or Fox although, to be fair, it's also likely Jane wouldn't have had a career at all without Hughes. By her own admission, she lacked ambition and was even lazy. I suspect she would have married Bob Waterfield and been a footballer's wife, without Hughes' promoting her career.


Now this one can't be blamed on Hughes! This is from THE FUZZY PINK NIGHTGOWN (1957), which Jane produced after Hughes had ceased directly managing her career. It's a comedy about a publicity prone movie star who gets kidnapped for real, and the studio assumes its a stunt. This should have been a fun film -- a spoof of the Jayne Mansfield-style publicity hunting stars of the 50s -- but Jane and the director disagreed on the style. The director wanted a Technicolor comedy, while Jane wanted it as a B&W romantic mystery. They met in the middle and the end result worked on neither level. This was also pretty much the end of her Hollywood career.
 

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All of these movies look glorious in Technicolor,
I'm one of these loonies who believes Technicolor ---- old style Technicolor -- is actually more natural color! It didn't make those fuchsias and crimsons look that way -- it was simply able capture it.

The test is outdoor photography: old style Technicolor makes it all look far more three-dimensional than the regular, muted film we're accustomed to seeing.
 

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The Outlaw, The Tall Ma, Gentlemen Prefer Blonds... and so much more. Jane Russell also did commercials for Platex in the 70s and 80s. Let me say that she
was still quite the beauty! JR (interesting initials!) was a strong woman, and a great icon.
 

Caproni

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Although technically under contract to Hughes, Jane was the de facto Queen of the RKO lot in the 50s; but it wasn't much of a reign, with Hughes' meddling hastening the downfall of that studio. Hughes' tastes were puerile and vulgar; his management style was chaotic. HIS KIND OF WOMAN and MACAO probably would have been good -- maybe even great -- films, if Hughes hadn't tinkered with them endlessly. The rest of his films with Jane were terrible.
Constance Bennett, Ann Harding, and to a lesser extent, Helen Twelvetrees, were made some big "women's pictures" for RKO in the '30s. Katharine Hepburn had a few good years there, but when I think of a big star for RKO, I always think of Ginger Rogers. I mean she literally had a dressing room there that was named "The Ginger Rogers Suite".

But poor Jane really had some stinkers that used pushed out for her. Even THE OUTLAW, despite all its hype, was pretty dull and not necessarily a good movie.​
to be fair, it's also likely Jane wouldn't have had a career at all without Hughes. By her own admission, she lacked ambition and was even lazy. I suspect she would have married Bob Waterfield and been a footballer's wife, without Hughes' promoting her career.
You know, I could see that. Had her early movies failed and Hughes lost interest, I could really see Jane stepping back and marrying for love and live a life away from the limelight.​
Now this one can't be blamed on Hughes! This is from THE FUZZY PINK NIGHTGOWN (1957), which Jane produced after Hughes had ceased directly managing her career. It's a comedy about a publicity prone movie star who gets kidnapped for real, and the studio assumes its a stunt. This should have been a fun film -- a spoof of the Jayne Mansfield-style publicity hunting stars of the 50s -- but Jane and the director disagreed on the style. The director wanted a Technicolor comedy, while Jane wanted it as a B&W romantic mystery. They met in the middle and the end result worked on neither level. This was also pretty much the end of her Hollywood career.
I've never seen this movie, but I've heard enough about it. Although I know I wouldn't like it, I think I'd still like to see it, even if just to see just how awful it is. But, yeah, this decision was all on Jane. Hughes didn't have anything to do with THE FUZZY PINK NIGHTGOWN.​
 
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