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Hell's Crossroads (1957)

Approved | | Western | 8 March 1957 (USA)
An imprisoned gunfighter is offered parole on one condition--that he track down and bring in Jesse James.



(story), (screenplay) | 1 more credit »


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Complete credited cast:
Victor 'Vic' Rodell
Paula Collins
Pinkerton Agent Clyde O'Connell
Harry Shannon ...
Clay Ford
Sheriff Steve Oliver
Gov. Crittenden of Missouri
Jean Howell ...
Mrs. Jesse James


An imprisoned gunfighter is offered parole on one condition--that he track down and bring in Jesse James.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The Romantic Story of the Fabulous Outlaw JESSE JAMES!




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

8 March 1957 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Morte de Jesse James  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| (RCA Sound Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


In 1957, this film was distributed on a double bill with Untamed Youth (1957) starring Mamie Van Doren. See more »


Jesse James: Frank, Bob, on your way. Cole, take your time.
Cole Younger: All right, Jess.
Jesse James: Shall we drift?
Vic Rodell: Why not?
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User Reviews

Underrated Dramatic Western; Stephen McNally, a Fine Cast and More
12 October 2005 | by See all my reviews

This by my standards is a very good B/W 1957 western, with several action scenes, strong dramatic confrontations, very good characters and unusually-fine acting and directing. However, I believe it to be very important because it stands between the older filmmakers' depictions of real western badmen and lawmen and the later, freer and less-historical treatments (made as partly-fictionalized biographies). Also, its theme, the attempt by a man to seek redemption from earlier crimes, became a staple item in films and not only in westerns, largely on the basis I assert of two films--"Bend of the River", and "Hell's Crossroads". This western was written from John K. Butler's story with Butler and Barry Shippman providing the taut screenplay. Franklin Adreon directed with unusual skill with cinematography supplied by John L. Russell Jr., art direction by Frank Arrigo and set decorations by Mowbray Berkely and John McCarthy Jr. Alexis Davidoff was costume supervisor, and did a creditable job. The story concerns two peripheral members of the Jesse and Frank James and Younger brothers gang. As Vic Rodell, handsome Stephen McNally wants to go straight; Robert Vaughn as Bob Ford has ridden only once with the James' gang. Returning home at risk, they find Peggie Castle who is the elder Ford's daughter eager to see Vic, and her brother. But they are wanted. The elder Ford, played very strongly by Harry Shannon, once intervened to make sure Rodell did not marry Paula. Now she wants him again, and he refuses to consent. They agree to wed anyway, since Vic has a plan. Mssouri's legislature is getting ready to pass an Amnesty Act; he may have to serve a year or two, but she agrees to wait for him. While he was gone with Quantrill's raiders and James, having killed no one since the Civil War, she had married her father's choice, a dull bank clerk shot in a bank raid--by the gang. But what she resents is the time they've lost together; and she knows he is a good man. On the trail of the James gang comes a Pinkerton Man, ably played by Barton Maclane and the County Sheriff, Grant Withers. They nearly catch Vic and do capture Bob Ford. This means that before he can try to meet Paula in the capital, and try to make a deal with the Governor (played with verve by Frank Wilcox) he has to try to kill no one but still rescue Bob from a lynch mob, one permitted to act by the corrupt town marshal Morris Ankrum and led by bitter townsfolk anxious to hang a former rebel without a trial. He is begged by Paula's father to help, and he does--by recruiting the James gang. Then he heads for St, Joseph, and is trapped in a hotel room by the wily Pinkerton man; he overcomes him, by knocking him out, and escapes. Soon Paula talks to the Governor--and learns the Legislature has narrowly defeated the amnesty measure. He offers her a deal for Bob and Vic--if either brings in Jesse or Frank dead or alive, he can earn a pardon. She tells him Vic is a boyhood friend of Jesse's, that he will not do it. Vic confirms this later, and leaves her, planning to hide out for a year until the Legislature reconsiders the bill. Then Bob comes to the Governor and takes to the deal, warning him he will have to kill the dangerous Jesse to do the job; the Governor agrees. On his way to hiding, Vic says goodbye to Jesse, played strongly by Henry Brandon and angering his volatile brother Frank, portrayed by fine actor Douglas Kennedy. Vic disappears; and Bob Ford has to wait while the gang plans and executes a raid on Northfield, Minnesota, which stirs up hatreds and proves bad for the gang also. Jesse has been calling himself Mr. Howard; Bob goes to his house and kills him as he decorates a Christmas tree for his children's holiday with his wife (Jean Howell) in the next room--shooting him in the back. This brings Vic out. Paula swears she had no idea this was to happen; he accuses her of having killed him--because the James gang will now be after both Bob and him. They soon capture Vic. This sets up an exciting climax; Vic escapes and hides behind some rocks. The James gang surrounds him, firing to kill. Paula has gone to her father who is won over, and they come in a wagon to save Vic; but cowardly Bob hesitates, until he reconsiders and joins them. A very satisfying climax to the film follows. For an unpretentious feature with stock music, B/W scenery and a small budget, this is a well-scripted, moving and well-acted film. This is I assert one of Stephen McNally's best parts; he is dangerous, award level, darkly-attractive, and his acting along with Shannon's dominates every scene he is in. Young Robert Vaughn as Bob Ford is attractive but not particularly powerful; as Paula, Peggie Castle is lovely and intelligent. A very underrated western, a clever and seminal fictionalization of historical western characters.

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