What GPS Watched Tonight While Normal People Slept:
An odd bird of a western that was years out of
color circulation, but has lately been on Retroplex with reclaimed HD
multi-hues. Worth the wait? Big yes for curiosity's at long last satisfaction,
though less so considering the just OK western this is. Montana Belle was
independent-produced by Howard Welsch (who also ramroded Fritz Lang's House By
The River), shooting done at Republic with that company a partial investor and
committed to release. Within months of a late-'48 wrap, Welsch sold Montana
Belle's negative outright to RKO for almost $1,000,000, according to Variety,
yielding a gain of between $200-300K for the producer.
Howard Hughes was at Radio's helm and dithered
over release, however, wanting instead to focus on star Jane Russell's earlier
The Outlaw, belatedly going into wide release after years of censor wrangling. Toward
limitingmoviegoers' tussle with
Russell, Hughes also withheld another of hers that had been completed, It's
Only Money, two years later released as Double Dynamite. By 1952 and belated
circulation, Montana Belle had grown quite a beard. Republic was in for a prior
agreed percentage, the picture recognizably theirs in terms of support cast,
economical production, and even Trucolor, that most startling of recent
challenges to Technicolor's primacy.
Everything about Montana Belle belies the RKO
logo preceding it, all and sundry of content fairly shouting Republic origin.
Jane Russell is the outlaw gal, hers a perpetual sneer to my always-observation,
those celebrated two reasons for stardom well and truly hidden with nary a
glimpse of cleavage (were Russell-handlers cowed by PCA arousal over The
Outlaw?). A mature (and looks it) George Brent wins her despite vigorous rivals
Scott Brady and Forrest Tucker in the wings. Outlawry comes courtesy the Dalton gang, Ray Teal
their principal spokesman. Jane sings, perhaps too much, one number dragged on
a seeming forever. Hughes' ad art made Montana Belle look like a stag movie rather
than the modest oater it was, one better suited to kids than palpitating dads
lured by promise of la Russell undraped.