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10 Memorable Movie Poster Controversies

The Outlaw

The queen mother of all controversial posters — and movies — was The Outlaw, Howard Hughes’s 1943 Western vehicle for actress Jane Russell and her rather prominent bust. In those pre-MPAA days, Hughes (who produced and directed, along with an uncredited Howard Hawks) had to battle the Hays Office, which demanded the removal of several shots in the film that violated the Motion Picture Production Code by lingering on Miss Russell’s bosom. The film became a cause célèbre, which Hughes eagerly embraced as cheap publicity; posters not only highlighted Russell’s cleavage, but proclaimed The Outlaw “The Picture That Couldn’t Be Stopped!” It wasn’t; thanks to Hughes’s savvy PR and the condemnations of churches and censors, it became a huge hit when it was finally released some three years after its original target date.

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