In 1876, the Missouri legislature issues a pardon and amnesty to the James and Younger gangs despite many people considering them outlaws. The pardon is because they protected the homesteaders of Clay County against the marauding railroaders, who wouldn't let anyone or anything get in their way of building the railroad where they wanted. However, the railroad companies and banks still consider them outlaws and will take matters into their own hands if they come across the gangs. Prior to the pardon, Cole Younger had contemplated robbing the First National Bank in Northfield, Minnesota - what is considered the largest bank west of the Mississippi - but has now decided against it. Circumstances, including learning that Jesse James and his gang are going ahead with the robbery behind his back, and that the railroaders issuing a war against them which also includes bribing the legislature to revoke the pardon, make Cole change his mind. But right from the start - even during the planning ... Written by
One of the prostitutes is Valda Hanson who appeared in several Ed Wood, Jr movies. See more »
The film was shot mostly in Jacksonville, Oregon, whose landscape bears little resemblance to that of Northfield. Many errors result from this, such as the hills outside of town (Northfield is located in relatively flat farm country). See more »
Even before the wounds of the Civil War had healed in Missouri, the railroads came swarming in to steal the land. Everywhere, men from the railroads were driving poor, defenseless families from their homes. And that's when a fresh wind suddenly began to blow. It was other Clay County farmers, the James and Younger boys, coming to the rescue. They tarred and feathered the railroad men and drove them from the land. From that moment onward, they were outlaws. But the people of ...
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Although the central character of The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid is Cliff Robertson as Cole Younger, Robert Duvall joins a great pantheon of actors that range from Tyrone Power to Brad Pitt in playing the legendary outlaw of the old west, Jesse James. Some say that the James/Younger gang were the last Confederates out there actively engaged in warfare against the invading Yankees on behalf of the south. This film certainly takes that position.
The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid took place in 1877 and was the biggest job attempted by the gang and turned into the biggest flop in their outlaw career. Word leaked out about the robbery and the Pinkertons and the local law enforcement were waiting. The incident is shown in just about every Jesse James film there is.
The James/Younger gang remain populist heroes to this day in many quarters. They were an expression of outrage by a conquered people, the poor white class who saw land taken over illegally by Yankee managed railroads or foreclosed by banks with northern management they ultimately answered to. A decade later these people would find a voice in the Populist Party and if Jesse James hadn't been such a person of violence, he might have had a great career as a Populist politician, he was reputed to be that charismatic.
Younger's a different story, his charisma as it were was a laid back kind. He's got two brothers to look after, Bob and Jim and wants to live long enough to get the amnesty promised by the state of Missouri. It's one of the reasons the James/Younger gang is operating as far north as Minnesota. That and the fact they can rob from Yankees if they have to rob at all.
As is shown in the film, Missouri was debating an amnesty, but certain interests wanted to make sure that didn't happen. The gang is operating outside their home state, lest any outlaw activities interfere with the amnesty. And the Pinkertons want to nail them all before the amnesty ever is passed as an example.
The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid is one fine western with two rugged leads and very realistic settings for the old West. Fans of that generation and younger should not miss this one.
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