HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Man Standing Next, The
Rock, Paper and Scissors
Batman: The Long Halloween Part One
Salaam Bombay!
Boss Level
My Heart Can't Beat Unless You Tell It To
Edge of the World
PTU
Superdeep
Insignificance
Treasure City
Piccadilly
Parallel
Invasión
Shiva Baby
Flowers of Shanghai
War and Peace
Agony
Merrily We Go to Hell
Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie's Dead Aunt)
Amusement Park, The
Lemebel
Hands of Orlac, The
Cats
Death has Blue Eyes
Caveat
Kala Azar
Duplicate
Flashback
Gunda
After Love
Earwig and the Witch
Zebra Girl
Skull: The Mask
Vanquish
Bank Job
Drunk Bus
Homewrecker
State Funeral
Army of the Dead
   
 
Newest Articles
That Ol' Black Magic: Encounter of the Spooky Kind on Blu-ray
She's Evil! She's Brilliant! Basic Instinct on Blu-ray
Hong Kong Dreamin': World of Wong Kar Wai on Blu-ray
Buckle Your Swash: The Devil-Ship Pirates on Blu-ray
Way of the Exploding Fist: One Armed Boxer on Blu-ray
A Lot of Growing Up to Do: Fast Times at Ridgemont High on Blu-ray
Oh My Godard: Masculin Feminin on Blu-ray
Let Us Play: Play for Today Volume 2 on Blu-ray
Before The Matrix, There was Johnny Mnemonic: on Digital
More Than Mad Science: Karloff at Columbia on Blu-ray
Indian Summer: The Darjeeling Limited on Blu-ray
3 from 1950s Hollyweird: Dr. T, Mankind and Plan 9
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
   
 
  True Story of Jesse James, The Print The Legend
Year: 1957
Director: Nicholas Ray
Stars: Robert Wagner, Jeffrey Hunter, Hope Lange, Agnes Moorehead, Alan Hale Jr, Alan Baxter, John Carradine, Rachel Stephens, Barney Phillips, Biff Elliot, Frank Overton, Barry Atwater, Marian Seldes, Chubby Johnson, Frank Gorshin, Carl Thayler, John Doucette
Genre: WesternBuy from Amazon
Rating:  6 (from 1 vote)
Review: The place is Northfield Minnesota and the notorious gang of outlaws led by Jesse James (Robert Wagner) might have met their match when a bank raid they have planned has gone very badly, leaving them not only with no money after the cashier refused to open the safe, but some of the gang dead when the townsfolk trap them. The surviving members escape, but there's a posse in hot pursuit, and not even leaping off a cliff into the local river will help them now. Jesse and his brother Frank (Jeffrey Hunter) mull over their predicament as the law close in, but Jesse won't admit defeat...

The True Story of Jesse James took its script from the earlier 1939 Tyrone Power film version, refashioned by Walter Newman into more of a work fitting auteur Nicholas Ray. The familiar tale of a young man twisted by society into breaking its rules is what he evidently saw the famous James story as, so Wagner must play one of Ray's rebels, but there's a tension between the folk hero side of the tale and the "true" aspect that depicts the outlaw as essentially a thug who caught the popular imagination.

What is it about the Jesse James story that so captures that American imagination anyway? Even as late as 2007 there was yet another version of the well worn events, with the Brad Pitt-starring The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and yes the most notorious picture straightening incident of all time is featured at the climax of this fifties telling. Perhaps it's the romanticising of the Old West, when men were men and women did as they were told, combined with the glamour of the legendary and daring rogue that appeals.

Whatever, the Jesse James in this film is by no means held up as a laudable figure, and any ambiguity about his character is down to the way his public persona contrasts with his actual personality. After he and his brother choose the losing side in the Civil War, they find themselves the victim of vindictive Northeners, which, we are led to believe, resulted in a serious lack of money for the James farm leaving them no choice but to turn to crime. However, Jesse prefers this life to honest work.

In a revealing sequence, after a train robbery the gang hole up in an old widow's farmhouse. One of the robbers has stolen a magazine that tells a Robin Hood style version of Jesse's life, which is noticeably at odds with reality. Flattered, Jesse pays off the widow's mortgage as if trying to live up to this image, but when made fun of by his fellows, he goes over to the bank representative who has collected the money and holds him up, stealing it back. Subversively for such a figure that fictionalisations have treated in the very way that magazine could be accused of, this time the protagonist, with Frank acting as his conscience, is a nasty piece of work deep down and it's only at the end he feels regret for the path he's taken and a wish for the more fairytale life that might have been available to him. Music by Leigh Harline.

[Optimum's Region 2 DVD has the film in its proper Cinemascope ratio, with a trailer as the only extra.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 4350 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Desbris M
Andrew Pragasam
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
   

 

Last Updated: