Jesse James Review

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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.


A very influential 1939 Western, among the first films to go back to a real Old Western character and make him out to be a lot more like a persecuted good guy than the historical record suggests. Tyrone Power’s Jesse is driven to outlawry when the railroad steals his family’s land and blows up his dear old mother, and Henry Fonda is along as brother Frank, reminding Jesse that he’s supposed to be Robin Hood not a psychopath. Important, but not very interesting, with too much blustery hamming from supporting player Henry Hull and Power failing to bring much depth to the character. John Carradine is fun, though, as the coward who shoots our hero in the back.

Good, if not revisionist western, which struggles to breathe life into a legendary cowboy