The last eighteen years in the life of Jesse James, showing his home life in Missouri, his experiences with Quantrill's raiders, his career of banditry with his brother Frank and the ...
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The last eighteen years in the life of Jesse James, showing his home life in Missouri, his experiences with Quantrill's raiders, his career of banditry with his brother Frank and the Younger brothers, and his attempt to lead a peaceful life after the disastrous attempt to rob the bank at Northfield, Minn. Written by
Every re-telling of the Jesse James story has been flawed. This picture has neither the carelessly cobbled script of "The Long Riders" nor the Robert Duvall version's annoying quirkiness and skewed morality. However, it is a highly selective narrative omitting much of the suffering caused by the Jameses and with several outright distortions of the historical record. For example, when he was shot by Robert Ford, Jesse James was in the process of assembling a new gang, not about to retire to the life of a farmer as depicted here.
Robert Wagner is appropriately youthful in the title role. As brother Frank, the impossibly handsome Jeffrey Hunter has little to do but acts well. Agnes Moorehead plays Mrs. Samuel, the matriarch, as too saintly for my taste. But portraying a media-savvy Cole Younger, Alan Hale leads a particularly able supporting cast including, as an honorable Union soldier, the father of contemporary star Kurt Russell.
The narrative is anchored to the disastrous expedition to Northfield, Minnesota. One nice touch, copied in a later retelling, was the inclusion of a Swedish-speaking actor to play one of the two town residents killed by the gang.
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