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Jesse James, retired and living under an assumed name in St. Joseph, Missouri, agrees over the protests of his wife Zee to join Bob Ford and Sam Wells in a Colorado gold raid. Jesse rounds up gunman Arch Clements; demolition expert Elias Hobbs, with suspect credentials as he later blows himself up; and get-away wagon driver Johnny Jorette. They rendezvous at Ford's saloon in Creede, Colorado, where Ford's girlfriend Kate joins the gang. Sam guesses Ford's plan to double-cross Jesse and collect a reward and Ford kills him. Lots of other people die before Jesse and Ford ride off in opposite directions. This was made shortly after Tom Neal, in real life, nearly killed Franchot Tone in a fight over Miss Payton, so when she sings (unless she was dubbed) "That's the Man for Me" in this film, it appears to be heartfelt. Written by
Les Adams <email@example.com>
I doubt that Willard Parker copped the lead for the television version of Tales Of The Texas Rangers on the strength of this rather tired western. Parker is in the title role of The Great Jesse James Raid. It's more like a road trip than a raid. And who brings the caper to him? None other than Bob Ford played here by Jim Bannon.
Parker is living quietly with wife Barbara Woodell and child when Bannon arrives with sidekick Richard Wells. There's mine in Creed, Colorado where he knows there's a mother lode that can be gotten to by an abandoned tunnel. Of course there's a reason it's abandoned, but that's part of why you might want to see the film for.
Jesse's picked crew is Tom Neal, Wallace Ford, and Jim Anderson. Not the most harmonious bunch ever gathered. And of course the name of Bob Ford is synonymous with treachery.
I will say this that Parker's more reflective scenes were done quite well as Jesse yearns to leave outlaw life behind and pack up wife and child and move somewhere they never heard of Jesse James. As if in 1881 in the USA that were possible.
But the whole business is presented rather prosaically and Lippert Films no doubt did the film to capitalize on the notoriety of Tom Neal and his romance with Barbara Payton. Payton is in the film also as Ford's squeeze who Neal of course takes a fancy too. Everybody in America knew about Neal's famous fist fight with Franchot Tone over Payton. Franchot's classic profile required reconstructive surgery, but it was a slow and sorry end for both of Neal and Payton. Besides that particular Hollywood scandal was already two years old. So I doubt much box office was made from the only appearance of Neal and Payton in a film together.
This might have been a better film in another studio. But I never expect much from Lippert.
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