Booby Trapped


Well, I can second Virginia Postrel's high praise for Martin Scorcese's vivid depiction of Golden Age glamour in The Aviator, which was enough fun to get me over my own disappointment that the movie doesn't treat the Vegas hotel room period.

It's always a bore when some aficionado starts bellyaching about how Hollywood got his special interest wrong, but as a longtime Hughes buff I have to ask: Where were all the tits? Hughes was one of the most legendary breast men in the history of American movies, a true-blue mammophile when Russ Meyer was still out there winning World War II. Granted, glamour is about abstracting and polishing sexuality, rather than presenting it toute nue, but The Aviator doesn't even have a part for Jane Russell, Hughes' greatest discovery. The making of the Russell vehicle The Outlaw is the stuff of legend: the special bra designed by aircraft engineers, the censorship crisis, the abuse of leading man Jack Buetel (in the ur-text of Hughes-was-gay revisionism, Howard Hughes: The Secret Life, breathless author Charles Higham does a close reading of The Outlaw as gay BDSM; sample here).

The obvious explanation is that in an era where we're supposed to accept Kate Beckinsale as the va-va-voom Ava Gardner, we just don't have the full-figured gals Hollywood needs to recreate its own past (a chilliing mirror image of the ongoing dwarf shortage). But I had already worked that problem out in my head: Just add in a cartoon Jane Russell who interacts, Jessica Rabbit-style, with the live actors. Who wouldn't have wanted to see a cartoon Jane, with her hooters knocking over cocktail glasses three tables away? I like to think the great creator Scorcese, he of Taxi Driver and The King of Comedy, would have done it that way…