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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.

Directors:

, (uncredited)

Writer:

(original screen play)
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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

The Tremendous Dramatic Thrills Of the Midwest's Lawless Era will burst from our screen... See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

27 January 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Darryl F. Zanuck's Production of Jesse James  »

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Box Office

Budget:

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

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Henry Fonda received a mild powder burn on his hand during the filming of this movie in Pineville, MO. Because of his lack of trust in small-town doctors, Fonda insisted on being taken to Kansas City (nearly 200 miles away) for treatment. See more »

Goofs

When Frank breaks Jesse out of jail, it's clear that the action is taking place at night. The note mentions 12 and the characters repeatedly say "tonight" "before this night is over", etc, but when Jesse and Frank emerge from the jail it is broad daylight. See more »

Quotes

Zerelda 'Zee' Cobb, later Zerelda 'Zee' James: If I could just think of some way to let you know how wrong you are.
Jesse Woodson James: No use, honey. It's just like I always told you: I hate the railroads... and when I hate, I've gotta do somethin' about it.
Major Rufus Cobb: That's the stuff! People ain't hating nowadays like they used to. They gettin' soft. I got to admit that I like a man that hauls off and hates good and hard. It's the lawyers - gol-dang it - it's the lawyers are messin' up the whole world! Why ten years ago, here in Liberty, we didn't have no lawyers and ...
[...]
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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 »

Connections

Remade as The True Story of Jesse James (1957) See more »

Soundtracks

The Battle Cry of Freedom
(1862) (uncredited)
Written by George Frederick Root
Played by the band at the railroad station
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Excellent western + Gorgeous man = Something for everyone
3 December 2005 | by See all my reviews

If you go to Pineville, Missouri, where part of Jesse James was filmed, and ask about the making of the movie, everyone you meet will tell you the same thing. One of the extras became pregnant by Tyrone Power and gave the baby up for adoption. When Power learned of this, he spent thousands upon thousands of dollars but never located his offspring. Just think, today she'd drag him into court and sell her story to People. But the times were different. Frankly, I'm not surprised it happened. Even Power's younger daughter Taryn thinks her father was his most devastatingly handsome in Jesse James. She's right.

Darryl F. Zanuck gave his biggest star a first-class production in color no less. Not remarkable considering that Power in 1939 would hit the pinnacle of his popularity, beating Gable in the year of GWTW in box office receipts.

In this version, Jesse is a folk hero who seeks revenge on the railroad for cheating people out of their property and allowing its representatives to resort to violence against the property owners. That's one way of looking at it.

What puts this movie over is the top-notch cast, headed by Power. Critics could never see beyond his looks, and it is difficult, but his Jesse is ruthless, loving, defeated, and angry as the story demands. Henry Fonda is perfect as Frank James, and the scene between the two men after Jesse argues with the gang is wonderful. One sees Jesse's pain and feels Frank's concern. The rest of the cast includes Nancy Kelly, Henry Hull, Brian Donlevy, John Carradine, Jane Darwell, and Randolph Scott - all first-rate.

I'm not a particular fan of westerns, but this one held my interest. Of course, it helps when the Jesse is the stuff dreams are made on.


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