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

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.

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(screenplay), (novel)
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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 25 wins & 65 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

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

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

Taglines:

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:

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Details

Country:

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Language:

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Release Date:

19 October 2007 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

The Assassination of Jesse James  »

Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

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

Gross:

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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

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Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The gun Jesse James gives Robert Ford is an 1875/1878 Smith and Wesson Model 3, Schofield .45 caliber revolver with single-action, top-break and auto-eject. It was the first pistol to use a large caliber and auto-eject. It was famously used by other gunslingers, like Pat Garrett and John Wesley Hardin. See more »

Goofs

When the gang leaves Martha's farm for Kentucky, Dick Liddil carries a pair of saddle bags. The pattern on the bags is US Army M1885, which first appeared 5 years later. See more »

Quotes

[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 »

Connections

Referenced in Bad Movie Beatdown: Seraphim Falls (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

The Ballad of Jesse James
Traditional
Arranged by Nick Cave
Performed by Nick Cave
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
Hero Worship Turns Sour
7 November 2007 | by (Buffalo, New York) – See all my reviews

Though Jesse James through the newspaper accounts of his exploits and through the dime novels of the day was already a legend, his immortality was sealed on April 3, 1882 by the manner of his death. The lengthy title of the film tells all or at least the official version of the story.

But was that accepted version the real story? For the first time the Ford brothers, Robert and Charley, get their due. As played by Casey Affleck, Robert Ford was a most complex character indeed. Ford is shown for what he was, a moonstruck kid who was brought up on those dime novels and idolized the legendary bandit. The fact that Charley was already riding with the James gang got him into the group.

After the last job the James gang pulled and the only Ford was ever in on, the Fords kind of attached themselves to Jesse James. Of course the idol is no hero. Brad Pitt plays a most unheroic Jesse.

Hints of Pitt's interpretation of Jesse's character are found in the classic portrayal of Jesse James by Tyrone Power. Remember when the laconic Henry Fonda as Frank James dresses Jesse down, tells him he's getting mean, meaner every day even with some of his own gang members? Power was showing signs of it, but we see Pitt as Jesse do some really brutal and cruel things. At the same time he's a loving husband to Mary Louise Parker and doting father to his two children.

As good as Pitt is I think the acting honors go to Casey Affleck. His gradual disillusion with his idol is really something to see on the screen. He becomes really scared of Pitt for reasons I won't reveal, but were definitely sufficient to want him to get Pitt.

We also get to see the Fords sorry aftermath. Things did not go so well for them. Bob Ford did not quite get the acclaim he would have liked as Jesse James became bigger after death than in life.

Frank James as played briefly in the beginning is an odd peripheral character in this film. The James brothers did separate some months before Jesse's death. Frank is played by Sam Shepard who has an encounter with young Bob Ford at the beginning of the film and announces to one and all, the kid creeps him out. But Jesse likes having the kid follow him around like a puppy dog to his ultimate regret.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a very good western and we sure don't see too many of them in these times. It's shot in an unusual color, almost like one of those sepia-tone films that were in vogue for a brief spell. The location shooting was done in western Canada and looks a whole lot more like Missouri then than Missouri does now.


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