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Jesse James (1939)

Approved | | Biography, Crime, Drama | 27 January 1939 (USA)
After railroad agents forcibly evict the James family from their family farm, Jesse and Frank turn to banditry for revenge.

Directors:

Henry King, Irving Cummings (uncredited)

Writer:

Nunnally Johnson (original screen play)
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tyrone Power ... Jesse James
Henry Fonda ... Frank James
Nancy Kelly ... Zerelda - aka Zee
Randolph Scott ... Will Wright
Henry Hull ... Maj. Rufus Cobb
Slim Summerville ... Jailer
J. Edward Bromberg ... Mr. Runyan
Brian Donlevy ... Barshee
John Carradine ... Bob Ford
Donald Meek ... Mc Coy
Johnny Russell ... Jesse James Jr. (as John Russell)
Jane Darwell ... Mrs. Samuels
Charles Tannen ... Charles Ford
Claire Du Brey ... Mrs. Bob Ford
Willard Robertson ... Clarke
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Storyline

The railroads are squeezing farmers off their land. When a railroad agent kills their mother, Frank and Jesse James take up robbing banks and trains. The public regard them as heroes. When Jesse retires his erstwhile friend Robert Ford shoots him in the back to get the reward. Written by Ed Stephan <stephan@cc.wwu.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The Tremendous Dramatic Thrills Of the Midwest's Lawless Era will burst from our screen... See more »


Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 January 1939 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Darryl F. Zanuck's Production of Jesse James See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,600,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Irving Cummings filled in as director from 14 October 1938 to 24 October 1938, when Henry King was bed-ridden from a swelling in his ear. See more »

Goofs

After they get Jesse out of jail, in the head-on shot of Frank and Jesse riding while being chased by the posse, road dust from the camera truck is visible ahead of them. See more »

Quotes

[Jesse and Zee have come to the church to get married - the minister and the congregation react when he says he's Jesse James]
Jesse Woodson James: We don't want no trouble.
Minister: Trouble? Why, son, you're as welcome as rain to the flowers. Do you realize, boy, that I had a farm giving nine hundred bushels of corn... until that railroad had taken it from me? Why, I'd given up preaching... and was making an honest living off of the land, until that dad-swinged railroad swindled me out of my own home. By golly, son, do you ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

Opening credits prologue: After the tragic war between the states, America turned to the winning of the West. The symbol of this era was the building of the trans-continental railroads.

The advance of the railroads was, in some cases, predatory and unscrupulous. Whole communities found themselves victimized by an ever-growing ogre - the Iron Horse.

It was this uncertain and lawless age that gave to the world, for good or ill, its most famous outlaws, the brothers Frank and Jesse James. See more »

Connections

Featured in The Return of Frank James (1940) See more »

Soundtracks

The Battle Cry of Freedom
(1862) (uncredited)
Written by George Frederick Root
Played by the band at the railroad station
See more »

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User Reviews

 
Classic Western with very good cast , dealing with the most colourful bandit who ever lived
23 March 2015 | by ma-cortesSee all my reviews

Spectacular as well as exciting Western talks the lives of Jesse and Frank James ; featuring notorious interpretations by a popular group of known stars . This is a slight and intelligent biopic about Jesse James who ranks with Billy the Kid as the most famous of Western outlaws . Legend and folklore have cast him as a Robin Hood , a good boy forced by circumstances to follow a criminal life . The picture provides a good portrait of Jesse and his band , as they move from Civil War to there territory becoming into semi-legends . As showing his home life in Missouri, his experiences with Quantrill's raiders and his career of banditry . As Jesse (Tyrone Power) and Frank (Henry Fonda) along with cousins Cole , Bob and Jim Younger return from War to find their mommy (Jane Darwell) and family threatened by railway people . As Barshee (Brian Donlevy) was hired by the railroad company run by Mc Coy (Donald Meek) to hunt down Jesse and Frank . So James Brothers commence to robbin' banks and trains to help out the poor folks who been done wrong . In the course of their revenge , they will become the object of the biggest manhunt in the history of the Old West . Along the way , Jesse courts attractive young , Zerelda (Nancy Kelly) . As their fame grows, so will the legend of their leader, a young outlaw by the name of Jesse James . At the end , he is betrayed by the Ford brothers , Charlie and Bob (John Carradine) .

This is a sprawling and glamorous Western with excellent performances from Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda . The film gets spectacular shoot em'up , thrills , exciting horse pursuits . A glimmer Western with a wild bunch look-alike that ends up into a fateful final . Packs colorful scenarios, moving pace and slick edition . This is a decent look about the known story of the West's greatest bandit , Jesse James , along with Frank , Cole Younger and brothers with acceptable performances and compelling direction creating some good action scenes . The picture shows nice as well as spectacular frames , as when both Jesse and Frank going off the cliff on horseback , in reality the stunt was performed once and shot with two cameras. After the two horses that were blindfolded and forced to go over a cliff were killed, a new rule was enforced and later endorsed by The Humane Society of America in which strict standards were created to protect Animal Actors in which at the end of the movie and added to the credits listed as "No Animals Were Harmed or Injured in the Production of this Film" ; now all films involving any Animal Actors must have present a member representing The Humane Society of America to insure that all animals are treated humanly and given a safe environment in which to work. As originally conceived by screen writer Nunnally Johnson along with contributing writers as Curtis Kenyon , Long and Gene Fowler . Taut excitement throughout , beautifully photographed by George Barnes and W. Howard Greene . The motion picture was well realized by Henry King .

It was followed by a sequel : ¨The return of Frank James¨ (1950) by Fritz Lang with Henry Fonda . Other films about this legendary outlaw are : ¨I shot Jesse James¨ by Samuel Fuller with John Ireland as Bob Ford ; ¨Jesse James vs the Dalton (1954)¨ by William Castle with John Ireland . ¨The true story of Jesse James¨ (1957) by Nicholas Ray with Robert Wagner , Jeffrey Hunter , Hope Lange , Agnes Moorehead ; in which footage from the original 1939 production was used when Frank and Jesse go over a cliff on horseback into a river and when they crashed , on horseback, through a store window during the "Northfield Minnesota Raid" . And contemporary-style Western such as ¨Frank and Jesse¨ by Robert Boris with Rob Lowe as Jesse James , Bill Paxton as Frank James and Randy Travis as Younger ; ¨American outlaws¨ by Les Mayfield with Colin Farrell , Gabriel Macht , Terry O'Quinn , Harris Yulin and Ali Larter ; and ¨The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford¨ (2007) by Andrew Dominik with Brad Pitt , Sam Shepard , Mary Louise Parker , Casey Affleck and Sam Rockwell.

The picture lavishly produced by Darryl F Zanuck was based on actual events , these are the followings : At the war's end in 1865 , Jesse rode in to surrender and was shot and seriously wounded by a Union soldier . Jesse and his brother joined the Confederate guerrillas of Quantrill and learned to kill in ruthless company . It is believed that Jesse took part in his first robbery in 1866 when a dozen men held up the bank in Liberty , Missouri . A bank cashier was killed in the raid and a reward was offered for each of the James brothers . In 1873 Jesse and his band derailed and robbed a train on the Rock Island line . Jesse married his cousin Zerelda , who bore him two children . Pinkerton detectives were contracted to chase Jesse and Frank , the agents surrounded the home , believing they to be there , tossed a bomb and the explosion killed Jesse's young half-brother . This outrage brought much sympathy for the brothers . On 1876 Jesse and Frank in company the three Younger Brothers , attempted a bank robbery at Northfield , Minnnesota , and walked in disaster . The alerted citizens opened fire on the raiders , of the eight bandits involved , three were killed and three Younger brothers were captured .


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