As thrilling as it is to watch Clark Gable ride in and rescue Jane Russell from hostile Indians in The Tall Men, he must have felt a bit silly while filming it. At the time, Russell was already the queen of the Western parody, having demonstrated self-sufficiency in both musical take .
Even when Russell wasn’t kidding around, she was still one for keeping a cool head around hot lead. In 1952 she starred in Montana Belle,
a fictional biopic about a Calamity-Jane-esque character who feuds with
a deadly gang of outlaws. So how is it that out of all the actresses in
Hollywood, Clark Gable wound up bailing out the one cowgirl who had
proved to be the most capable of taking care of herself (as well as her
leading men)? Chalk it up to the success of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes
and the solidification of Russell’s appeal as an enduring sex symbol —
clearly audiences had wised up to the fact that she didn’t need a
six-shooter in her hand to knock ’em dead.