IMDb > I Shot Jesse James (1949)
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I Shot Jesse James (1949) More at IMDbPro »


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Samuel Fuller (written by)
Homer Croy (article)
View company contact information for I Shot Jesse James on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
26 February 1949 (USA) See more »
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. Full summary » | Add synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
(4 articles)
Read An Exclusive Excerpt From Sam Fuller's Lost Novel Brainquake
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Film Junk Podcast Episode #371: Moonrise Kingdom
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User Reviews:
dark, existential melodrama wrapped up in a B-western, a stunning debut from one of the great mavericks See more (21 total) »


  (in credits order) (complete, awaiting verification)
Preston Foster ... Kelley
Barbara Britton ... Cynthy

John Ireland ... Bob Ford
Reed Hadley ... Jesse James
J. Edward Bromberg ... Kane
Victor Kilian ... Soapy
Tom Tyler ... Frank James

Tommy Noonan ... Charles Ford (as Tom Noonan)
Eddie Dunn ... Joe

Margia Dean ... Saloon Singer
Byron Foulger ... Silver King Room Clerk
Jeni Le Gon ... Veronica
Barbara Woodell ... Mrs. Zee James
Phillip Pine ... Man in Saloon (as Phil Pine)
Robin Short ... Troubadour
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Gene Collins ... Young Gunslinger (uncredited)
Albert Glasser ... Musician (uncredited)
Frank Hagney ... Livery Stableman (uncredited)
Mickey Ireland ... Gang Member (uncredited)
Ray Jones ... Barfly (uncredited)
Jack Low ... Barfly (uncredited)
Robert Malcolm ... Marshal Craig (uncredited)
George Morrell ... Play Spectator (uncredited)
Stanley Price ... Bank Cashier (uncredited)
Jack Richardson ... St. Joseph Saloon Bartender (uncredited)
Britt Wood ... Play Spectator (uncredited)

Directed by
Samuel Fuller 
Writing credits
Samuel Fuller (written by)

Homer Croy (article in American Weekly magazine)

Robert Gardner  uncredited

Produced by
Carl K. Hittleman .... producer
Robert L. Lippert .... executive producer
Original Music by
Albert Glasser 
Cinematography by
Ernest Miller 
Casting by
Yolanda Molinari  (as Yolando Molinari)
Art Direction by
Frank Hotaling 
Set Decoration by
John McCarthy Jr.  (as John McCarthy)
James Redd 
Costume Design by
Alfred Berke 
Makeup Department
Peggy Gray .... hair stylist
Bob Mark .... makeup artist
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
John Grubbs .... assistant director (as Johnny Grubbs)
Sound Department
T.A. Carman .... sound
Harry Coswick .... sound effects
Howard Wilson .... sound
Special Effects by
Ray Mercer .... special effects
Chuck Roberson .... stunt double: Reed Hadley (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
Archie R. Dalzell .... camera operator (uncredited)
Milton Gold .... still photographer (uncredited)
Editorial Department
Paul Landres .... editorial supervisor
Other crew
Moree Herring .... script clerk
Murray Lerner .... assistant to producer
Robert L. Lippert .... presenter
Stanley Price .... dialogue coach
Crew believed to be complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
81 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System)

Did You Know?

The skilled gunman who attracts younger opponents who want to defeat him is very commonplace in the world of westerns. This movie is said to be the one that started this trend.See more »
Continuity: When Jesse James goes to straighten the picture on his wall, the opening shot shows the picture slanting down to the right. When the camera angle changes, the picture is slanting up to the right. When the film cuts back to the first angle, the picture is slanting down to the right again.See more »
[last lines]
Bob Ford:I... I want to tell you something I ain't never told anyone. I'm sorry for what I done to Jess.
Cynthy Waters:Oh, Bob!
Bob Ford:I loved him.
See more »
The Jesse James SongSee more »


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23 out of 24 people found the following review useful.
dark, existential melodrama wrapped up in a B-western, a stunning debut from one of the great mavericks, 16 September 2007
Author: MisterWhiplash from United States

It's one of the oldest Western stories: Jesse James was a big-time outlaw, robbing banks left and right, alongside his gang, including Robert Ford. One day, upon hearing of the huge bounty (and possibility of amnesty for anyone in the gang) for Jesse's murder, Ford took it upon himself to kill him so that he could be free and clear to mary his would-be wife. But things didn't quite turn out right afterwords, and Ford was considered more-so a coward, a traitor for doing this act, and any gunslinger who could gun Ford down would then be seen as the baddest dude in the west. At least, that's the legend anyway that comes out of the main plot. But there's more to it, at least under the surface, that Samuel Fuller gets to in his take on the legend of one man's existential downfall from killing his best friend, who happened to be the most feared- and yet most admired- bank robber in America for a short while. Fuller might be asking why he was admired, when he didn't do anything that really merited praise only in hindsight. There's a sense of pure melodrama, brimming with acting that is typical for the budget, but somehow Fuller brings out the best in what might be a little limited in the character actors.

John Ireland says a lot in the understated expressions on his face, the tense feeling of rejection from the only one he can get close to- once Jesse is out of the picture- and likewise Cynthy (Barbara Britton) is very good at doing the 'acting-concerned' woman that is reluctant to be on Ford's sleeve. It's all the more compelling because Fuller could easily make the direction more into a black and white category, that Ford is bad like Jesse was, and Cynthy is more than in her reasoning for not wanting to marry him. But even in the pulpy world of Jesse James and Robert Ford, there is room for compromise. I liked seeing the scenes where Ford goes through the humiliating act of doing a theater re-enactment of the killing scene, but suddenly seeing in a vision the actual act he performed superimposed over the pantomime. And, immediately after, as one of the very best scenes in the film, a traveling singer who sings a song terrified in Ford's face about how much of a traitor he was for killing such a man like Jesse James.

It's a sharp script considering what Fuller would have to work with, but it's also the simplicity of his craft (it might be one of those genre films where the style is so stripped down to bare essentials with necessary close-ups, consistent medium shots, that when something 'stylistic' happens like in the last shootout between Kelly and Ford that it is shocking), how Fuller pushes it into looking like a tale that on the surface as a conventional feature. But watch how the suddenness of violence sparks up interest in the craft, how the opening bank robbery is timed and shot with the same level- or even more- tension than your average heist thriller. Or in the actual infamous scene itself, which is preceded by Ford getting a chance beforehand when James was in the bath, and the cut-aways to the POV at the back. It's bold-faced type through a crisp full-frame lens.

And while Fuller would still go on to make greater films, I Shot Jesse James is a fantastic prototype for a great career, where history merges with the human process of change, and how love, however a typical thing in a triangle situation, complicates even the strongest of men.

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