51 user 29 critic

Jesse James (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Crime, Drama | 27 January 1939 (USA)
After railroad agents forcibly evict the James family from their family farm, Jesse and Frank turn to banditry for revenge.


, (uncredited)


(original screen play)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Prime Video



Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Crime | History | Western
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.7/10 X  

Frank James continues to avoid arrest in order to take revenge on the Ford brothers for their murder of his brother Jesse.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, Jackie Cooper
Action | Adventure | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

An American pilot impulsively joins Her Majesty's Royal Air Force in Britain in an attempt to impress his ex-girlfriend.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Betty Grable, John Sutton
Action | Drama | Musical
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

The O'Leary brothers -- honest Jack and roguish Dion -- become powerful figures, and eventually rivals, in Chicago on the eve of its Great Fire.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche
Drama | Musical | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

This send-up of ragtime song and dance begins in 1915 San Francisco when society boy Roger Grant decides to pursue popular rather than serious music.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Alice Faye, Don Ameche
Drama | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.1/10 X  

American soldiers stranded in the Philippines, after the Japanese invasion, form guerrilla bands to fight back.

Director: Fritz Lang
Stars: Tyrone Power, Micheline Presle, Tom Ewell
Johnny Apollo (1940)
Crime | Drama | Film-Noir
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7/10 X  

The son of a jailed Wall Street broker turns to crime to pay for his father's release.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Tyrone Power, Dorothy Lamour, Edward Arnold
Adventure | Drama | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  

An unscrupulous agent for the Borgias suffers a change of heart when asked to betray a noble count and his much younger, very beautiful wife.

Director: Henry King
Stars: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Wanda Hendrix
Brigham Young (1940)
Adventure | Biography | History
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

In 1844, after the assassination of Mormon leader Joseph Smith by an angry mob in Illinois, the Mormons choose Brigham Young as their new leader and follow him to a new promised land in Utah.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Tyrone Power, Linda Darnell, Dean Jagger
Adventure | History | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.4/10 X  

A disinherited 13th Century Saxon nobleman leaves Norman England with an archer friend to seek his fortune in the Far East.

Director: Henry Hathaway
Stars: Tyrone Power, Orson Welles, Cécile Aubry
Second Fiddle (1939)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Music
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.5/10 X  

Studio publicist (Power) discovers Minnesota skating teacher (Henie) and takes her to Hollywood. She goes back to Minnesota but he follows her.

Director: Sidney Lanfield
Stars: Sonja Henie, Tyrone Power, Rudy Vallee
Drama | Romance | War
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  

Although she comes from an aristocratic family, beautiful Prudence Cathaway defies convention by joining the WAAFs and becoming romantically involved with an AWOL soldier.

Director: Anatole Litvak
Stars: Tyrone Power, Joan Fontaine, Thomas Mitchell
Dodge City (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.2/10 X  

A Texas cattle agent witnesses first hand, the brutal lawlessness of Dodge City and takes the job of sheriff to clean the town up.

Director: Michael Curtiz
Stars: Errol Flynn, Olivia de Havilland, Ann Sheridan


Cast overview, first billed only:
Mr. Runyan
Mc Coy
Johnny Russell ...
Jesse James Jr. (as John Russell)
Mrs. Samuels
Charles Ford
Mrs. Bob Ford


The railroads are squeezing farmers off their land. When a railroad agent kills their mother, Frank and Jesse James take up robbing banks and trains. The public regard them as heroes. When Jesse retires his erstwhile friend Robert Ford shoots him in the back to get the reward. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Motion Pictures' Supreme Epic ! See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

27 January 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Darryl F. Zanuck's Production of Jesse James  »


Box Office


$1,600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Tyrone Power's first Technicolor movie. See more »


On the river bank, when Jesse James bids farewell to Pinkie, the latter changes place, from beside the mule, with his hand on its back, to the front of the mule, holding the rein, between shots. See more »


Major Rufus Cobb: [standing over Mrs. Samuel's body] There's no use. She's dead. This is bad! Mighty bad! I'm sure sorry!
Barshee: Well, I'm sorry too!
Major Rufus Cobb: Oh, I wasn't talking about her. She's gone. It's you I'm sorry fer.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: After the tragic war between the states, America turned to the winning of the West. The symbol of this era was the building of the trans-continental railroads.

The advance of the railroads was, in some cases, predatory and unscrupulous. Whole communities found themselves victimized by an ever-growing ogre - the Iron Horse.

It was this uncertain and lawless age that gave to the world, for good or ill, its most famous outlaws, the brothers Frank and Jesse James. See more »


Referenced in Ready 2 Die (2014) See more »


Oh Susanna
(1846) (uncredited)
Written by Stephen Foster
Played on harmonica offscreen by prisoner Jesse James in jail
Sung a cappella by Nancy Kelly and Tyrone Power with modified lyrics
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.

User Reviews

A highly romanticized account of the infamous desperado…
30 November 2007 | by See all my reviews

Splendid in his first Western and his first Technicolor movie, Power portrayed Jesse James as a sympathetic hero and the most charming bank robber of the Old West…

Teamed with Henry Fonda, and stalwart Randolph Scott, Henry King came with a Western classic, considered as one the best Jesse James of the series…

The film opens in Pineville with hothead Jesse and temperate Frank as a couple of Missouri brothers who, embittered by the ruthless tactics of a railroad agent, got a warrant and had to skip out, hiding out until Major Rufus Cobb (Henry Hull) can get the governor to give them a fair trial … But the railroad's got too much at stake to let two farmer boys bollix things up…

After they had thrown Barshee (Brian Donlevy), the brutal railroad representative off the farm of their widowed mother (Jane Darwell) when she refused to sign over her property, Jesse and Frank later learn that she had been killed by a bomb tossed into their home by Barshee himself… Jesse returns, shoots Barshee, and vows revenge on the railroad, with the complete sympathy of the Missouri populace…

Jesse's sweetheart, Zee and her uncle, publisher Major Rufus, are among the James' supporters, as is U. S. Marshal Will Wright (Scott), but he has a job to do and is forced to track down the two brothers…

Jesse and Frank have expanded their operation from merely harassing the St. Louis Midland with a series of holdups to robbing banks…

Pursuaded by railroad president McCoy (Donald Meek) to talk Jesse into surrendering, Wright extracts a written promise of a light sentence for the desperado… Zee then urges Jesse to give himself up following their wedding…

Of course, Henry King tries to show how Jesse hated the railroads and from that hate he presented a charismatic hero… But this hero was not going to last… The more luck he had, the worse he gets… It'll be his appetite for shooting and robbing until something happens to him…

He also shows a worried fiancée keeping thinking of an outlaw all the time out there in the hills just going on and on to nowhere just trying to keep alive with everybody after him, wanting to kill him to get that money…

There's a scene near the end where Zee (Nancy Kelly) after delivering her baby is lying in bed with her creature, with the presence of the Marshal, so to speak, between herself and her uncle that suddenly made clear to me what the entire film was about… Her feelings as a woman: "I'm so tired to care. This is the way it always is. We live like animals, scared animals. We move. We hide. We don't dare to go out… "

Obviously she is a sensitive woman who exposes her being on screen without losing sight of reality… That's quite a great scene from King, and key in this great Western, as it's really all about her character, Zee Cobb, a struggling woman in love now a mother with a baby to take care of…

So please don't miss it!

37 of 44 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 51 user reviews »

Contribute to This Page