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

R  |   |  Biography, Crime, Drama  |  30 November 2007 (UK)
7.6
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Ratings: 7.6/10 from 124,080 users   Metascore: 68/100
Reviews: 394 user | 265 critic | 32 from Metacritic.com

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

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Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 33 wins & 47 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
Dustin Bollinger ...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Joel McNichol ...
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

The last months of Jesse James's life, from meeting Robert Ford, a 19-year-old who idolizes Jesse, to the day Ford shoots him. Jesse's a wanted man, living under a pseudonym, carrying out a train robbery, disappearing to Kentucky, and reappearing to plan a bank holdup with Robert and Robert's brother as his team. The rest of the gang is dead, arrested, or gone from Missouri. Whenever Jesse's around, there's tension: he's murderous, quixotic, depressed, and cautious. Ford wants to be somebody and wants the reward. On April 3, 1882, things come to a head: Jesse is 34, Robert 20. Ford becomes famous, reenacting the shooting on stage, facing down the label "coward," shot dead in 1892. Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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:

|

Release Date:

30 November 2007 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

The Assassination of Jesse James  »

Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

£180,886 (UK) (30 November 2007)

Gross:

$3,904,982 (USA) (25 January 2008)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

| |

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Making "James" was a long and arduous process. There was a well-publicized tug-of-war between director Andrew Dominik, who caught Hollywood's attention with indie title Chopper (2000) and Warners over the editing of the film. Warners' wasn't entirely in sync with the pacing of the movie, or the length. Dominik was thinking more like 'Terence Malick' in examining the relationship between the famous outlaw and his eventual assassin, Robert Ford, played by Casey Affleck. Warners was in favor of having at least a bit more action. Ultimately, Warners went with Dominik's version, even though Dominik didn't have final cut as part of his contract. Part of the reason was that Pitt, who produced the movie through his Plan B shingle, backed Dominik. At one point along the way, Pitt and exec producer Ridley Scott had put together their own cut. When it tested to only so-so results, they went back to Dominik's. The original cut of "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" was nearly four hours long. It was edited down to two hours and forty minutes, its current runtime, at the studio's request. However, it did play at least once at its original 4-hour length, most notably at the Venice Film Festival, where Brad Pitt picked up the Best Actor Award. After the viewing, critics at the festival called the film "majestic." See more »

Goofs

Arguably, the term "motor" was not widely used. It was defined as, "machine that supplies motive power" in 1856. To engineers, it is a term for machines that are electrically or tension-fed (as in springs) and "engines" supplied by chemical means or processes (internal combustion or steam). At that time, the only commonly known use of "motors" is in toys...which may be why Jesse (or the culture at the time) used the term, "motor" for what is happening inside a person's (Robert, in this case) head--including the mention of gears. In the scene where Jesse is planning the Platte robbery, Jesse refers to Robert's fear as, "motor." (Arguably), the term should have been more closer to Jesse's experience by referring Roberts fear as, "engine" because the most common "machine that supplies motive power" that Jesse has the most familiarity with would be the steam engine. "Motor" and "engine" have been misused so much that they are now interchangeable in the dictionary. 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

Featured in The Oprah Winfrey Show: And the Nominees Are... (2008) See more »

Soundtracks

Good Ol' Rebel Soldier
(uncredited)
Lyrics by Innes Randolph
Sung by Jeremy Renner
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

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


301 of 453 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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