Synaesthesia Magazine Seven Deadly Sins - Page 66

Maximum Mason and the Summer Thunderstorm Over a Landscape

Baltimore Judge Paul E. Mason gained the nickname “Maximum Mason” on account of his penchant for always handing out the maximum sentence where possible, but even he hadn’t seen anything like Jane Russell’s breasts in Howard Hughes’ film The Outlaw. The story goes that Hughes developed the underwire bra specifically for this film to accentuate Russell’s assets, though that may be apocryphal. Nevertheless, it was the significant focus attached to Russell that saw the film up in court in 1940, where Maximum Mason saw it – one wouldn’t imagine that he’d have bought a ticket of his own accord.

Cinema was viewed with nothing but suspicion and distaste by many of the Conservative elite in America, given its history as a sideshow, a novelty, also a medium of pornography, rather than high art. It was unsurprising then that Maximum Mason banned The Outlaw, and indeed the film wasn’t released until three years later. When asked about his decision, Mason said this:

"Miss Russell's breasts hung like a summer thunderstorm over a landscape. They were everywhere."

This was a weird time for America too – coming towards the end of splendid isolation and a

few years shy of the Kinsey Reports that launched the sexual revolution. A generational gap was forming, and sex seemed to be at its heart. This is Mason’s story.