Railroad detectives Matt Clark (Jim Davis)and Frankie Adams (Mary Castle), with the aid of much stock footage from earlier Republic Pictures films, pursue the vengeful James brothers, Frank...
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This episode of 'Stories of the Century' takes a very narrow look at brothers Frank and Jesse James following a Pinkerton raid on the Samuels Family homestead in 1875. In fact the term Pinkerton is not used in the story, instead the script says they were police detectives. Reuben Samuels was the second husband of Frank and Jesse's mother, this information also omitted in the story.
Because Mrs. Samuels' arm was severely damaged and younger half brother Archie was killed from an explosion and fire in the raid, the James Brothers sought to take out their revenge on the Pinkertons. This episode makes it almost look like this was the beginning of the James Gang notoriety as bank and train robbers, but in fact they had been at it since shortly after the Civil War ended almost a decade earlier.
Historically, by this time public perception of the James and Younger Gang was starting to turn negative. Earlier in their outlaw careers, the boys were hailed as local heroes for taking out their revenge on wealthy banking and railroad interests, particularly if they had any connection to the former Union. The scene in the story when Jesse allowed the Southerner on the stagecoach to keep his money was an accurate portrayal.
Series star Jim Davis goes undercover as a cattle buyer named Lassiter in this episode, while his partner Frankie Adams (Mary Castle) poses as a postmistress heading to Kansas City, Missouri. They're both part of a network closing in on the James Brothers as a couple of scenes illustrate some of the tactics used to locate the outlaws. The eventual murder of Jesse by the coward Robert Ford is portrayed to close out the story.
Lee Van Cleef was a great choice to portray Jesse James, about the same age as Jesse when events in the story took place. Richard Travis played the part of Frank James. Interestingly, the Younger Brothers aren't mentioned at all in this story, but they get their own chapter later in the series.
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