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The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

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Robert Ford, who's idolized Jesse James since childhood, tries hard to join the reforming gang of the Missouri outlaw, but gradually becomes resentful of the bandit leader.



(screenplay), (novel)
1,650 ( 313)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 25 wins & 64 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Dustin Bollinger ...
Express Messenger
James Defelice ...
Baggagemaster (as James DeFelice)
J.C. Roberts ...
Darrell Orydzuk ...
Ukranian Train Passenger
Jonathan Erich Drachenberg ...
Young Train Passenger


Taking place in the American Northwest in the early 1880s, the film dramatizes the last seven months in the life of famed outlaw Jesse James, beginning with the Blue Cut train robbery of 1881 and culminating in his assassination at the hands of Robert Ford the following April. In the time between these two fateful events, the young and jealous Ford befriends the increasingly mistrustful outlaw, even as he plots his demise. Written by Cole Matthews

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Beyond the myth lies America's greatest betrayal.

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for some strong violence and brief sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:




| |



Release Date:

19 October 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Assassination of Jesse James  »

Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$147,812 (USA) (21 September 2007)


$3,904,982 (USA) (25 January 2008)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

| |


Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?


A scene at the beginning reveals that half of Jesse James' left middle finger is missing. The top half of Brad Pitt's left middle finger was digitally erased in every scene in which his hands appeared. See more »


As the gang members wait during the day to rob the train at Blue Cut that night, one gang member recites a poem by Catullus ("My love says she would marry only me ..."). The words are from "Catullus: The Complete Poems for American Readers", by Reney Myers and Robert J. Ormsby, published in 1970. See more »


[first lines]
Narrator: He was growing into middle age, and was living then in a bungalow on Woodland Avenue. He installed himself in a rocking chair and smoked a cigar down in the evenings as his wife wiped her pink hands on an apron and reported happily on their two children. His children knew his legs, the sting of his mustache against their cheeks. They didn't know how their father made his living, or why they so often moved. They didn't even know their father's name. He was listed in the city ...
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Crazy Credits

The film does not contain either an opening title nor intro credits. The film title is displayed first after the final fadeout. See more »


Featured in The Tonight Show with Jay Leno: Episode #21.193 (2013) See more »


Amazing Grace
Traditional Hymn
Lyrics by John Newton
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

the most beautiful film ever made
13 October 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

I've been thinking of a good way to start my review, I've been pondering many opening sentences, but none of them are close enough to the point, so I've decided to just say that this film is perfect in all aspects. When the credits started to roll I didn't move at all, I sat staring at the screen just thinking about what I just watched. I was trying to understand if what I just saw was really that good, or if I was just thinking it was. The film runs at almost three hours, but never looses your attention for one second. It moves forward through dialog that is poetic, but increasingly haunting at times.

First off, the performances. Brad Pitt as Jesse Jame makes you feel that he is a vulnerable person, and then at the next second he'll make you completely change all your feelings for him. He doesn't talk much in the film, but is none the less flawless. Casey Affleck as Robert Ford is in his best performance ever, makes you hate him. His character is very shaky, very nervous at times, but always seems confident of what he's doing, whether it's right of wrong. He steals most of the scenes he's in. The biggest surprise however for me was Sam Rockwell as Charley Ford, Robert's brother and Jesse's right hand man. At the beginning of the film, you think that Charley is the stupid brother and that Robert is intelligent beyond any standard Charley could reach. At the end of the film though, the roles switch. You realize that Robert has been making all the dumb decisions, and Charley has been trying to save him by covering them up and usually taking all the crap for it. His last scene was intense and beautiful. One other performance to talk about is Paul Schneider as Dick Liddil, an outlaw womanizer. His performance is somewhat comedic, but in some scenes he can be the backbone for the drama. I can easily see Pitt getting a Best Actor nomination while Affleck pulls in the Supporting Actor for the win.

The musical score by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis is on par with Clint Mansell's classic Requiem for a Dream score, if not better. In the films most horrific scenes, the music turns them into something beautiful. You'll want to sit through the end credits just to hear it one more time. The music will draw you back to the film to see it again. The score also fits the tone for the most of the scenes.

Andrew Dominik's direction is perfect. He uses the camera in such a unique way that you never miss anything that happens. In one of the film's best scenes, he places the camera so that you can only see Pitt's silhouette become meshed into a train's smoke and then reappear seconds later as it pops out. Dominik also wrote the entire script by himself, which really shows how versatile he is. He originally wrote the film into a 3hr and 50min cut that the studio made him trash. I can't wait to see that cut.

The best thing in the film though, is Roger Deakins' cinematography. That is what you gives the feel for the film. The blurry landscapes, the wheat fields that Pitt gracefully moves through, and the greatest train robbery scene ever on film. It perfectly portrays the landscapes of the old 1800's and everything that took place there. The film is consistent with providing one memorable scene after the other. When the assassination finally happens, you'll be sitting in your chair gawking at the screen in amazement of how sudden it happens.

I am very proud to say that this is now my favorite film of all time, and my definite choice for Best Picture of the year. It brings new flavor to the art-house scene and never lets you down. I recommend this film to everyone. It truly is a beautiful film.

I give it a 10 out of 10

318 of 477 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Why are there so many out of focus shots? roryflast
Yet another movie rendered unwatchable - codad1946
Exquisite music amadeus3
beyond boring...what a joke daddy8ball
One of the most underrated movies ever. sheltiknong
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