After railroad agents forcibly evict the James family from their family farm, Jesse and Frank turn to banditry for revenge.After railroad agents forcibly evict the James family from their family farm, Jesse and Frank turn to banditry for revenge.After railroad agents forcibly evict the James family from their family farm, Jesse and Frank turn to banditry for revenge.
Teamed with Henry Fonda, and stalwart Randolph Scott, Henry King came with a Western classic, considered as one the best Jesse James of the series
The film opens in Pineville with hothead Jesse and temperate Frank as a couple of Missouri brothers who, embittered by the ruthless tactics of a railroad agent, got a warrant and had to skip out, hiding out until Major Rufus Cobb (Henry Hull) can get the governor to give them a fair trial But the railroad's got too much at stake to let two farmer boys bollix things up
After they had thrown Barshee (Brian Donlevy), the brutal railroad representative off the farm of their widowed mother (Jane Darwell) when she refused to sign over her property, Jesse and Frank later learn that she had been killed by a bomb tossed into their home by Barshee himself Jesse returns, shoots Barshee, and vows revenge on the railroad, with the complete sympathy of the Missouri populace
Jesse's sweetheart, Zee and her uncle, publisher Major Rufus, are among the James' supporters, as is U. S. Marshal Will Wright (Scott), but he has a job to do and is forced to track down the two brothers
Jesse and Frank have expanded their operation from merely harassing the St. Louis Midland with a series of holdups to robbing banks
Pursuaded by railroad president McCoy (Donald Meek) to talk Jesse into surrendering, Wright extracts a written promise of a light sentence for the desperado Zee then urges Jesse to give himself up following their wedding
Of course, Henry King tries to show how Jesse hated the railroads and from that hate he presented a charismatic hero But this hero was not going to last The more luck he had, the worse he gets It'll be his appetite for shooting and robbing until something happens to him
He also shows a worried fiancée keeping thinking of an outlaw all the time out there in the hills just going on and on to nowhere just trying to keep alive with everybody after him, wanting to kill him to get that money
There's a scene near the end where Zee (Nancy Kelly) after delivering her baby is lying in bed with her creature, with the presence of the Marshal, so to speak, between herself and her uncle that suddenly made clear to me what the entire film was about Her feelings as a woman: "I'm so tired to care. This is the way it always is. We live like animals, scared animals. We move. We hide. We don't dare to go out "
Obviously she is a sensitive woman who exposes her being on screen without losing sight of reality That's quite a great scene from King, and key in this great Western, as it's really all about her character, Zee Cobb, a struggling woman in love now a mother with a baby to take care of
So please don't miss it!
- Nov 30, 2007