Jesse JamesDirector: Henry King, Darryl F. Zanuck, Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda
The real Frank and Jesse James were murderous thugs, light years away from the Robin Hood image imposed on them by revisionist dime novelists. But in 1939, 20th Century-Fox wasn't about to build an expensive Technicolor feature around the exploits of a couple of low-lives, thus Jesse James upholds the mythos, offering us the standard whitewashed version of the James boys. According to Nunally Johnson's irresistibly entertaining screenplay, Jesse (Tyrone Power) and Frank (Henry Fonda) become train and bank robbers to avenge the death of their mother (Jane Darwell), killed at the behest of greedy railroad interests. Once he feels his work is done, Jesse settles down to a life of marital domesticity--only to be shot in the back by cowardly Bob Ford (John Carradine). Frank James is left alive at film's end, paving the way for the 1941 sequel The Return of Frank James. Director Henry King stages the action sequences in glorious outsized fashion, notably the famous bank-robbery scene in which Jesse rides his horse through a plate glass window. The scenes involving both James brothers are stolen hands-down by Henry Fonda, not so much because he was a better actor than Tyrone Power but because his character had all the best lines. Jesse James was filmed largely on location in Missouri, resulting in crowd-control nightmares for the picture's beleaguered assistant directors.
- Release Date:
- Original Release:
- 20th Century Fox
Cast & Crew
|Darryl F. Zanuck||Director,Producer|
|William S. Darling||Art Director|
|George Dudley||Art Director|
|W. Howard Greene||Cinematographer|
|Nunnally Johnson||Associate Producer,Screenwriter|
|Louis Silvers||Score Composer,Musical Direction/Supervision|
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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While I was not born yet when this title was first released I vividly remember seeing this film in my local theater while I was still a pre teen. During the World War II years studios, to cut costs, re-released a lot of features. This was one of them. Had seen it was available on DVD but waited for the blu ray version due to the improved picture quality. This DVD looks better than I remember when I saw it on a theater screen. The colors are vivid, the focus is sharp and the sound crisp. As for the fact the film's storyline turns Jesse James into something close to a folk hero, well that's a plus too. I feel it is important to preserve the older titles as they provide a mirror into the culture of an era. Yes it drops a lot of nasty facts and smooths the edges on others but its important to see and understand this was done. When by grandchildren are old enough to learn about the real career of Jesse James I plan to show them this film and talk with them about how important it is to cross check the facts on any film being passed off as the "life story" of an historical figure.