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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>
The title, "The Great Jesse James Raid" is a bit misleading. First there is no raid (it's about digging through a mine for gold) and second, there's no James boys gang (Frank is nowhere to be seen).
Produced by the Lippert Company and directed by Reginald LeBorg, the film winds up being nothing more than a formula poverty row quickie, in spite of the fact its in color (rare for this company).
Tom Howard (Willard Parker), who in reality is Jesse James is living anonymously in St. Joseph, Missouri with his family when he is visited by one of his gang, Bob Ford (Jim Bannon) and his partner Sam Wells (Richard Cutting). They have come to Jesse to gain his support for their plan to rob a gold mine. James is to provide, apart from himself, a "powder man", Elias Hobbs (Wallace Ford) and a gunfighter, Arch Clements (Tom Neal).
In Ford's saloon, they meet up with Ford's girlfriend Kate (Barbara Payton) and Clements sets his sights upon her. The four men set off for the mine where they meet up with Sam Wells and begin the task of undermining (so to speak) the shaft leading to the gold. Kate comes along and causes friction among the men. After several double crosses and murders the final showdown takes place and.................................
Its hard to imagine Willard Parker as Jesse James, but his does his best with the role. Veteran character actor Ford takes the acting honors in this one as the grizzled old powder man. Tom Neal never achieved the promise he showed in the film Noire thriller "Detour" (1945). He merely walks through his role as the trigger happy gunman. Barbara Payton had made some major "A" features, such as "Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye" (1950) with James Cagney, but soon sank into roles such as this. Neal and Payton were an item in real life. In fact Neal is probably best remembered for his brawl with actor Franchot Tone over Ms. Payton's affections. Jim Bannon, long a fixture in westerns, had recently finished a series as "Red Ryder".
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