IMDb > Jesse James (1939)
Jesse James
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Jesse James (1939) More at IMDbPro »

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Jesse James -- The legend of Jesse James stars Tyrone Power as the most infamous bandit in the history of the West. Jesse James was a young Missouri farmer forced outside the law after ruthless agents for the transcontinental railroad kill his ailing mother and steal his family's land.


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Nunnally Johnson (original screen play)
View company contact information for Jesse James on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
27 January 1939 (USA) See more »
The Epic Story of the most Colourful Outlaw who ever lived See more »
After railroad agents forcibly evict the James family from their family farm, Jesse and Frank turn to banditry for revenge. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
User Reviews:
Robbing Hoods Get the Technicolor Treatment See more (45 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Tyrone Power ... Jesse James

Henry Fonda ... Frank James

Nancy Kelly ... Zerelda (Zee)

Randolph Scott ... Will Wright

Henry Hull ... Major Rufus Cobb

Slim Summerville ... Jailer
J. Edward Bromberg ... Mr. Runyan

Brian Donlevy ... Barshee

John Carradine ... Bob Ford

Donald Meek ... Mc Coy

Johnny Russell ... Jesse James Jr. (as John Russell)

Jane Darwell ... Mrs. Samuels
Charles Tannen ... Charles Ford
Claire Du Brey ... Mrs. Bob Ford
Willard Robertson ... Clarke
Harold Goodwin ... Bill
Ernest Whitman ... Pinkie

Eddy Waller ... Deputy
Paul E. Burns ... Hank (as Paul Burns)
Spencer Charters ... Minister
Arthur Aylesworth ... Tom Colson

Charles Middleton ... Doctor

Charles Halton ... Heywood
George Chandler ... Roy
Harry Tyler ... Farmer
Virginia Brissac ... Boy's Mother
Edward LeSaint ... Judge Rankin (as Ed Le Saint)
John Elliott ... Judge Mathews
Erville Alderson ... The Old Marshal
George P. Breakston ... Farmer Boy (as George Breakston)

Lon Chaney Jr. ... One Of James Gang
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Carol Adams ... Minor Role (uncredited)

Donald Douglas ... Infantry Captain (uncredited)
James Flavin ... Cavalry Captain (uncredited)
Sam Garrett ... Rider / Roper (uncredited)
Wylie Grant ... Barshee's Henchman (uncredited)
Harry Holman ... Engineer (uncredited)
Kenner G. Kemp ... Union Soldier (uncredited)

Leonard Kibrick ... Boy (uncredited)
Sidney Kibrick ... Boy (uncredited)
Ethan Laidlaw ... Barshee's Henchman (uncredited)
Tom London ... Soldier (uncredited)

George O'Hara ... Teller (uncredited)
Paul Sutton ... Lynch - Barshee's Henchman (uncredited)

Directed by
Henry King 
Irving Cummings (uncredited)
Writing credits
Nunnally Johnson (original screen play)

Gene Fowler  contributing writer (uncredited)
Curtis Kenyon  contributing writer (uncredited)
Hal Long  story contributor (uncredited)

Produced by
Nunnally Johnson .... associate producer
Darryl F. Zanuck .... producer
Ben Silvey .... associate producer (uncredited)
Cinematography by
George Barnes (photography)
W. Howard Greene (photography) (as W.H. Greene)
Film Editing by
Barbara McLean  (as Barbara Mc Lean)
Art Direction by
William S. Darling  (as William Darling)
George Dudley 
Set Decoration by
Thomas Little (set decorations)
Costume Design by
Royer (costumes)
Makeup Department
Robert Cowan .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Buddy King .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Ray Lopez .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Ben Nye .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Webster C. Phillips .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Doris Rowland .... hair stylist (uncredited)
Dot Snyder .... body makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
Sid Bowen .... unit manager (uncredited)
William Koenig .... production manager (uncredited)
V.L. McFadden .... production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Otto Brower .... second unit director (uncredited)
Hal Herman .... assistant director (uncredited)
Robert D. Webb .... assistant director (uncredited)
Henry Weinberger .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Joe Behm .... props (uncredited)
G.L. Cooper .... painter (uncredited)
Charles Fremdling .... props (uncredited)
Tom Gillette .... carpenter (uncredited)
L. Paul Haines .... carpenter (uncredited)
Frank E. Hughes .... set dresser (uncredited)
Frank Patterson .... carpenter (uncredited)
Jack Stubbs .... props (uncredited)
Al Withers .... carpenter (uncredited)
Sound Department
Roger Heman Sr. .... sound (as Roger Heman)
Arthur von Kirbach .... sound
Hal Lombard .... boom operator (uncredited)
Jack Miller .... cable person (uncredited)
Roy Potts .... boom operator (uncredited)
W.R. Snyder .... assistant sound (uncredited)
Visual Effects by
William F. Mittlestedt .... photographic effects (uncredited)
Ben Southland .... photographic effects (uncredited)
Cliff Lyons .... stunt double: Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Charles Bohny .... assistant camera (uncredited)
A.C. Bumpus .... additional grip (uncredited)
James Cairns .... electrician (uncredited)
Duke Callaghan .... camera technician: Technicolor (uncredited)
Robert Campbell .... electrician (uncredited)
R.M. Harmon .... additional grip (uncredited)
J. James .... electrician (uncredited)
W. Harry Jones .... additional grip (uncredited)
Wendell Jones .... additional grip (uncredited)
Phil Mandella .... additional grip (uncredited)
W. Nugent .... electrician (uncredited)
Hugh C. Peck .... additional grip (uncredited)
Jack Percy .... head grip (uncredited)
Edward Petzoldt .... gaffer (uncredited)
Robert A. Petzoldt .... best boy electric (uncredited)
R. Pipes .... generator operator (uncredited)
Frank Powolny .... still photographer (uncredited)
C.E. Richardson .... second grip (uncredited)
Irving Rosenberg .... camera operator (uncredited)
William Russell .... generator operator (uncredited)
Gordon Sandsberry .... electrician (uncredited)
Sheridan Smith .... generator operator (uncredited)
W. Stewart .... electrician (uncredited)
Paul Uhl .... film loader: Technicolor (uncredited)
S. Warn .... electrician (uncredited)
Paul Woods .... electrician (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eddie Armand .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Sam Benson .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Steve Brandt .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Ollie Hughes .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Josephine Perrin .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Richard Billings .... assistant cutter (uncredited)
Robert Fritch .... assistant cutter (uncredited)
Music Department
Louis Silvers .... musical director
Cyril J. Mockridge .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Alfred Newman .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Louis Silvers .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Other crew
Jo Frances James .... historical data assembler
Natalie Kalmus .... Technicolor color director
Rosalind Schaeffer .... historical data assembler
Teresa Brachetto .... script clerk (uncredited)
Edwin H. Curtis .... dialogue director (uncredited)
Paul Hill .... assistant: Technicolor (uncredited)
Henri Jaffa .... associate technicolor color director (uncredited)
Max Larey .... script clerk (uncredited)
R.C. Moore .... location manager (uncredited)
Joe Noecker .... technician: Technicolor (uncredited)
Cliff Shirpser .... assistant: Technicolor (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Darryl F. Zanuck's Production of Jesse James" - UK (complete title), USA (complete title)
See more »
106 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Argentina:13 | Australia:G | Finland:K-16 | Norway:16 | Spain:13 | UK:U (passed with cuts) | USA:Approved (certificate #4590) | West Germany:12 (f)

Did You Know?

The film shows both Jesse and Frank going off the cliff on horseback. In reality the stunt was performed once and shot with two cameras.See more »
Crew or equipment visible: After they get Jesse out of jail, in the head-on shot of Frank and Jesse riding while being chased by the posse, road dust from the camera truck is visible ahead of them.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 »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Myra Breckinridge (1970)See more »
Oh SusannaSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
10 out of 15 people found the following review useful.
Robbing Hoods Get the Technicolor Treatment, 29 September 2006
Author: Oct ( from London, England

With Ty Power and Hank Fonda in the saddle, there was no way this version of the James Brothers legend was going to paint them as bad guys.

Less so since the courtly southerner Nunnally Johnson wrote and produced the yarn. In reality the James boys took to knocking off banks and trains after being at a loose end following Missouri's joining the losing side in the War Between the States. This was too painful a scab to pick in the Thirties, so Johnson gives the Jameses a more palatable enemy than Abe Lincoln: big bad railroad barons upsetting their ma. And he paints his outlaws with a populist tint, to please New Deal Democrats as well as Dixiecrats who knew the real backstory.

However, the broad outlines of their rise and fall are intact. We see a gradual slide into semi-chivalrous villainy (they didn't rob train passengers, only mails), a 'Liberty Valance'-like exploitation of their coups by political orators and editors, Jesse's becoming consumed by his own legend, and the final botched bank job at Northfield, Minnesota. That leads to a panicky flight and an attempt to live semi-respectably under pseudonyms, followed by Bob Ford's betrayal as Jesse turns art curator.

The film is pleasingly quiet between action set pieces, free of the obtrusive music that was often the curse of Hollywood soundtracks and laced with good lines from Johnson's florid pen. And above all, surrounded by good character actors, we have two rising Zanuck stars tussling enjoyably for mastery, both in the plot and career-wise.

Henry King had become Power's preferred handler ('In Old Chicago' the previous year had been a wow) and both men evidently relish the challenge of tweaking his 'nice bank teller' image a little. Swarthy and bearded betimes, barking out orders to older subordinates, Power does fine. Fonda's grand remonstrance, when he tells Junior that he's turning into a suicidal psycho, is ably played and paced. The soft early tripack Technicolor looks sweet both outdoors-- Ford was getting similar results in 'Drums Along the Mohawk'-- and in candle-lit interiors.

Also noteworthy is Jesse's respectful, confiding relationship with his black ex-slave Pinky (Ernest Whitman) when he decides not to pursue Frank. Black maids could sass their mistresses in crazy comedies, but this quality of understanding between men of different colours was unusual in early-talkie Hollywood.

'Jesse James' was released in Hollywood's peak year, 1939. It's understandable that it was overlooked. But when we've done finger-wagging at the cruelty to horses which led the American Humane Association to demand supervisory privileges over stampedes-- and the cruelty to female Central Casting members which allowed Power to father a child on one-- we can still appreciate a good, workmanlike travesty of outlaw history. As a distortion of the James-Younger saga it has not been surpassed.

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Horses were killed... malione-1
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Typical of it's time osolis
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