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No studio was better than Darryl Zanuck's 20th Century-Fox at dishing out lovingly textured Americana, of which this movie is a prime example. The outlaw gets canonized as an American Robin Hood, an honest farmer who, with post-Civil War Missouri overrun by corrupt agents of the Railroad, had no choice but to start robbing banks and trains to achieve a measure of social justice the System wouldn't provide. Tyrone Power as Jesse is quietly out-acted by Fox's emerging star Henry Fonda as brother Frank. The supporting cast is solid--Randolph Scott, Nancy Kelly, Brian Donlevy, John Carradine (as Bob Ford), Jane Darwell, Donald Meek--but the liveliest thing in the movie is Henry Hull, playing a newspaperman whose editorials invariably prescribe that whomever he's denouncing be "taken out and shot like dawgs." Fonda, Hull, and Carradine re-created their roles the following year in The Return of Frank James. --Richard T. Jameson --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Yes, yes, there will be all the historical purists who will blather on and on and on (and on) about this movie not being historically acturate. They may be right, but this is a movie not a documentary and it is not right to give it a poor rating just because it is fictional.
This movie is entertaining, and the passion in the eyes of the actor Tyrone Power will keep you watching for what his character will do next.
I recommend this movie to all ages and all generations.
Directed by Henry King
Irresistibly entertaining story of Jesse (Tyrone Power) and Frank James (Henry Fonda) becoming train and bank robbers to avenge the death of their mother killed at the behest of greedy railroad interests.
Director Henry King stages the action sequences in glorious outsize 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.
Even though Randolph Scott is not the star here but he has a pivotal role as Marshall Will Wright, this would be the success to his lasting and legendary legacy.
Then came the sequel! The equally powerful The Return of Frank James (1940) - Henry Fonda back as Frank James in another Technicolor extravaganza (directed by Fritz Lang)
1. Henry King (Director)
Date of birth: 24 January 1886 - Christiansburg, Virginia
Date of death: 29 June 1982 - Toluca Lake, California
2. Tyrone Power
Date of Birth: 5 May 1914 - Cincinnati, Ohio
Date of Death: 15 November 1958 - Madrid, Spain.
3. Henry Fonda [aka: Henry Jaynes Fonda]
Date of Birth: 16 May 1905 - Grand Island, Nebraska
Date of Death: 12 August 1982 - Los Angeles, California
4.Read more ›
At the heart of the matter is basically another version of the oft-told David and Goliath tale. In this story, Goliath is the railroad, expanding ever-westward and growing bigger and stronger by the day. When they encounter the farm on which Jesse, his brother, Frank (Henry Fonda) and their mother (Jane Darwell) reside and make their living, the railroad does what any self-respecting conglomerate would do-- they take it, pay the owners a pittance and lay their rail without giving it another thought. Only this time, the railroad messed with the wrong people. Not one to take it lying down, Jesse forms a gang-- which includes Frank-- and strikes back in the only way he knows how: By robbing the trains.Read more ›
Most recent customer reviews
This arrived just ahead of time, packed in a bubble envelope for protection. Being new I'm sure when I play it, it will be alright.Published 17 months ago by Just me
I have seen and owe all the other Jesse James films, from all the other ones I have seen, this 1939 film is one of my second "favourite". Excellent teleplay!!! Read morePublished on Jan. 3 2012 by Michelina Iuliano
.....Yes this has Henry Fonda & Tyrone Power, the darlings of the studio at the time, but the story is so botched & over the top. Read morePublished on Aug. 27 2011 by Richard Weik
Whatever significance this film has, it derives from the stellar cast. Tyrone Power and Henry Fonda do a credible job portraying Jesse and Frank James despite a screenplay that... Read morePublished on Jan. 26 2004 by John Flora
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