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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:

Motion Pictures' Supreme Epic ! 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

Frank comes to rescue Jesse from the jail at midnight. When they get outside, it's broad daylight. See more »

Quotes

Major Rufus Cobb: [standing over Mrs. Samuel's body] There's no use. She's dead. This is bad! Mighty bad! I'm sure sorry!
Barshee: Well, I'm sorry too!
Major Rufus Cobb: Oh, I wasn't talking about her. She's gone. It's you I'm sorry fer.
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 »

Alternate Versions

All UK versions were cut by 13 secs by the BBFC to remove footage of horse-falls including the controversial scene of a horse fatally falling from a cliff. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Magkapatid na Jesse at James (1965) 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

 
Excellent western + Gorgeous man = Something for everyone
3 December 2005 | by blanche-2See all my reviews

If you go to Pineville, Missouri, where part of Jesse James was filmed, and ask about the making of the movie, everyone you meet will tell you the same thing. One of the extras became pregnant by Tyrone Power and gave the baby up for adoption. When Power learned of this, he spent thousands upon thousands of dollars but never located his offspring. Just think, today she'd drag him into court and sell her story to People. But the times were different. Frankly, I'm not surprised it happened. Even Power's younger daughter Taryn thinks her father was his most devastatingly handsome in Jesse James. She's right.

Darryl F. Zanuck gave his biggest star a first-class production in color no less. Not remarkable considering that Power in 1939 would hit the pinnacle of his popularity, beating Gable in the year of GWTW in box office receipts.

In this version, Jesse is a folk hero who seeks revenge on the railroad for cheating people out of their property and allowing its representatives to resort to violence against the property owners. That's one way of looking at it.

What puts this movie over is the top-notch cast, headed by Power. Critics could never see beyond his looks, and it is difficult, but his Jesse is ruthless, loving, defeated, and angry as the story demands. Henry Fonda is perfect as Frank James, and the scene between the two men after Jesse argues with the gang is wonderful. One sees Jesse's pain and feels Frank's concern. The rest of the cast includes Nancy Kelly, Henry Hull, Brian Donlevy, John Carradine, Jane Darwell, and Randolph Scott - all first-rate.

I'm not a particular fan of westerns, but this one held my interest. Of course, it helps when the Jesse is the stuff dreams are made on.


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