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I Shot Jesse James (1949)

6.9
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Ratings: 6.9/10 from 1,269 users  
Reviews: 21 user | 22 critic

Bob Ford murders his best friend Jesse James in order to obtain a pardon that will free him to marry his girlfriend but is plagued by guilt and self-disgust.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
Preston Foster ...
Barbara Britton ...
Cynthy
...
Reed Hadley ...
J. Edward Bromberg ...
Kane
Victor Kilian ...
Soapy
Tom Tyler ...
...
Charles Ford (as Tom Noonan)
Eddie Dunn ...
Joe
...
Saloon Singer
Byron Foulger ...
Silver King Room Clerk
Jeni Le Gon ...
Veronica
Barbara Woodell ...
Phillip Pine ...
Man in Saloon (as Phil Pine)
Robin Short ...
Troubadour
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Storyline

While the law hunts him, Jesse James lives quietly in a rented house on the corner of Lafayette and Twenty-first street in St. Joseph, Missouri, under the alias of Tom Howard. His wife Zee begs him to end his association with the Ford brothers. Before they can leave on a "last" bank holdup, Bob learns that his childhood sweetheart, Cynthy Waters, now an actress, is in St. Joe and he brushes aside all caution to see her. Cynthy is beginning to realize that she is a liability to her manager, Harry Kane, because she will not leave Missouri. Meanwhile, John Kelley has come into her life. She pleads with Bob to turn honest. Cynthy tries to get a pardon for Bob, but the best offer she can get is for a 20-year stretch in prison. Then, the Governor offers amnesty and a $10,000 reward to any member of the James gang betraying Jesse. When his chance comes (April 3, 1882)Bob shoots Jesse in the back. He gets the amnesty but the reward is cut to $500. He also loses the love and respect of Cynthy,... Written by Les Adams <longhorn1939@suddenlink.net>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

THE THRILLING AND COLORFUL LAST DAYS OF AMERICA'S MOST FABULOUS OUTLAW...POWERFULLY WRITTEN IN GUNSMOKE! (original print ad - all caps) See more »


Certificate:

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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

26 February 1949 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ich erschoß Jesse James  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Samuel Fuller said that he wanted to make this picture because, unlike many filmmakers in Hollywood, he did not see the real Jesse James as a "folk hero" or someone to be admired. Fuller saw him as a cold-blooded psychopath who shot down women, children, the elderly, the helpless (his gang once stopped a Union hospital train and executed every wounded federal soldier on it) and, in Fuller's words, Bob Ford "did something that should have been done quite a bit earlier in the life of Jesse Woodson James". See more »

Goofs

During the final shootout the background lighting on the closeups and master shots of John Ireland do not match. See more »

Quotes

John Kelley: Miss Waters, don't be worried about me losing any money in your show. I don't have any, but I'd still like to talk to you again.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits are shown as posters hanging on a wall. See more »

Connections

Referenced in The Best of Sex and Violence (1981) See more »

Soundtracks

The Jesse James Song
Written by Billy Gashade
Sung by Robin Short
See more »

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User Reviews

Interesting Take on the Legend
12 September 2009 | by (Louisville, KY) – See all my reviews

I Shot Jesse James (1949)

** 1/2 (out of 4)

Fuller's directorial debut takes a look at the life of Bob Ford (John Ireland) after his cowardly killing of Jesse James. Ford is in love with a woman (Barbara Britton) but goes out West to try and make some money but what he doesn't know is that she's in love with another man (Preston Foster). The story of Jesse James in Hollywood has always been an interesting one because a lot of movies look at him as some sort of good guy when in truth he was pure scum who killed women and children. How this guy ever got to be looked at as a hero is beyond me but it's probably the same way Ford became a coward. People have debated on what Ford was but there's no question this Fuller film shows him as a weak coward and it even changes the ending of history to make him go out in a different way. This is technically a very well made film but at the same time there are quite a few problems with the screenplay. For starters, the movie seems to be hit and miss in regards to what it's trying to say. I didn't care too much for the way James was shown because they made him look and sound like one would expect Abraham Lincoln to come off. I'm not sure why they built Jesse up so highly just to change things around on Ford. The film seems to want to show Ford for a coward yet the screenplay goes off in different directions as to center on other aspects of his life and it's the later stuff that makes the film swing off track for me. With that said, the amount of talent on display here by Fuller can't be questioned. The visual style of the film is wonderful and he handles the action quite well. The psychological stuff comes off pretty well especially the scene right after the murder when Ford enters a bar only to have people looking at him differently than he expected. Ireland is very good in his role as is Foster. The two men work extremely well together and make the film worth seeing. There are many, many film dealing with this subject and while this one here isn't the best, there's still enough here making it worth checking out.


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