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

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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.

Director:

Andrew Dominik

Writers:

Andrew Dominik (screenplay), Ron Hansen (novel)
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Popularity
1,617 ( 102)
Nominated for 2 Oscars. Another 25 wins & 66 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Brad Pitt ... Jesse James
Mary-Louise Parker ... Zee James
Brooklynn Proulx ... Mary James
Dustin Bollinger Dustin Bollinger ... Tim James
Casey Affleck ... Robert Ford
Sam Rockwell ... Charley Ford
Jeremy Renner ... Wood Hite
Sam Shepard ... Frank James
Garret Dillahunt ... Ed Miller
Paul Schneider ... Dick Liddil
Joel McNichol ... Express Messenger
James Defelice James Defelice ... Baggagemaster (as James DeFelice)
J.C. Roberts J.C. Roberts ... Engineer
Darrell Orydzuk Darrell Orydzuk ... Ukranian Train Passenger
Jonathan Erich Drachenberg Jonathan Erich Drachenberg ... Young Train Passenger
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Storyline

Taking place in the American Northwest in the early 1880s, the film dramatizes the last seven months in the life of famed outlaw Jesse James, beginning with the Blue Cut train robbery of 1881 and culminating in his assassination at the hands of Robert Ford the following April. In the time between these two fateful events, the young and jealous Ford befriends the increasingly mistrustful outlaw, even as he plots his demise. Written by Cole Matthews

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:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA | Canada | UK

Language:

English | Danish

Release Date:

19 October 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Assassination of Jesse James See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$147,812, 23 September 2007

Gross USA:

$3,909,149

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$15,001,776
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Of all the films made about Jesse James, his descendants have claimed that this is the most accurate. They were especially enthusiastic about Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck's performances. See more »

Goofs

When the gang leaves Martha's farm for Kentucky, Dick Liddil carries a pair of saddle bags. The pattern on the bags is US Army M1885, which first appeared 5 years later. 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 ...
See more »

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 WatchMojo: Top 10 Movies with Terrible Titles (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

A Bird in a Gilded Cage
Written by Arthur J. Lamb and Harry von Tilzer
Performed by Zooey Deschanel
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
The Expectation of Applause
6 October 2007 | by WriterDaveSee all my reviews

"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" is a handsomely mounted, film-school like study of the last days of the infamous James' Gang by director Andrew Dominik. Growing up in awe of Jesse James (Brad Pitt), Robert Ford (Casey Affleck) finally gets to live out his dream of living side by side with his idol when his brother, Charles (Sam Rockwell) joins the gang. Young Robert quickly learns that the exploits of the murderous train-robbers are far from the exciting flights of fancy he grew up reading about in newspapers and dime-store novels. A series of cowardly acts in the wake of double-crossings and humiliations ultimately lead to the titular event.

The style of the film is often visually arresting and downright disturbing, especially in the acts of violence, which leave the most gruesome parts slightly off camera, but are frequently shot and framed in such a way as to maximize shock value and leave an uncomfortable feeling of tension in the theater seats. Dominik sometimes relies too heavily on voice-over narration torn straight from the book upon which the film is based leaving us to assume that aside from dreadfully beautiful photography of passing clouds and desolate Midwestern landscapes, he wasn't always sure how he visually wanted to tell the story. This leads to a sometimes snails' pace as the plot unfolds, though the haunting Oscar-worthy cinematography from Roger Deakins and mesmerizing music score from Nick Cave and Warren Ellis eventually get under your skin even as the hands of the clock seem to move slower as if stuck in a pretty photograph of a nightmare.

The acting in the film is superb from all involved. However, the performances often blur the line between caricatured scenery-chewing and emotional nuance (especially from Pitt and Rockwell). While there is some entertainment to be found in the lighter scenes of camaraderie amongst the gang members, the audience never really feels anything for the characters aside from sharing their sense of paranoia and fear knowing that around any corner someone will be betrayed and shot. The film also suffers from some scene stealing cameos from James Carville as the governor hell-bent on catching Jesse and the otherwise lovely Zooey Deschanel, who appears out of nowhere for a few moments about ten minutes after the film should have rightfully ended.

When the credits finally rolled, I wasn't sure what to make of the film. There's some unforgettable imagery (my personal favorite being the almost surreal depiction of the cloth-masked robbers waiting in the dark woods as the train comes roaring down the tracks), and many commendable artistic elements to be found in the film. If the idea was to leave the audience feeling the era showcased was a tension-riddled and violently lonely existence, then the film succeeded wonderfully. Those seeking a more pure entertainment will most assuredly be left stressed and stretched to their limits.


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