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Jesse James (1939)


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The ordinary farmer boys Jesse and Frank James turn into the country’s most notorious outlaws when ruthless railroad agents try to take away their property.

Based on real life characters, the James brothers became one of Hollywood’s idealized and  glorified symbols for righteous people that were forced to get on the wrong side of the law.

Jesse James was directed by Henry King (“David and Batsheba”, “The Snows of Kilimanjaro”, “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” a.o.), and supported by legendary character actor Henry Fonda as the older brother Frank, western star Randolph Scott as Marshall Will Wright, and horror legend John Carradine as Bob Ford, one can see the very handsome Tyrone Power in the role of  the main character. Over the years this story was adapted many times for the big screen, and although recent portrayals have become more and more realistic, from this film on it stayed to be a Hollywood tradition to use some of their coolest and best looking guys for this part:

Roy Rogers (“Jesse James at Bay”, 1941), Audie Murphy (who actually played Jesse twice in “Kansas Riders”, 1950, and  “A Time For Dying”, 1969!), Robert Wagner (“The True Story of Jesse James”, 1957), Ray Stricklyn (“Young Jesse James”, 1960), James Keach (“The Long Riders“, 1980), Kris Kristofferson (“The Last Days of Frank and Jesse James”, 1986), Rob Lowe (“Frank and Jesse”, 1994), Colin Farrell (“American Outlaws“, 2001), and eventually Brad Pitt (“The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford“, 2007).

However, despite these idealizations of the American outlaw in film, Jesse and Frank James were tough gangsters who were merely caring for themselves and their families than others who were in need. So, what do you think was the reason for such a positive portrayal?

IMDb: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0031507/?ref_=fn_al_tt_3

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28 responses to “Jesse James (1939)

  1. Kris ⋅

    We finally made it to what I would consider modern cinema. Multi-plot story line, cinematic camera angles and dolly shots, famous actors and actresses, big budget, Technicolor color science, Jesse James has it all. Plus the movie was filmed on location out in the natural world and also a studio stage. With this, there must have been some location scouting involved which is another aspect of modern cinema. I’m sure their are other examples of modern cinema before Jesse James (Gone with the Wind 1939), but Jesse James is the first example in this class.

    One area of note with these older films is the soft picture they produce. I believe it has to do with the lens center (Spherical, Cinematography Process) and how it is projected onto the film (full 35mm prints, not 70mm to 35mm). I can’t dig up a reference on this but this would make sense. I really like this soft look on film, and it can only be reproduced on film and of a certain stock as well. Video can’t get a natural soft look without post production or tricks (Vaseline on the lens, panty hose trick).

    Another thing is the actual set design and props used. This sets and locations remind of Adventure Land in Disney World, Orlando. The scrub pine houses and the really awesome Main Street city centers. If you were to watch this film and then go to Adventure Land, the comparison would be overwhelming.

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  2. Richard Specht ⋅

    I really, truly, thoroughly enjoyed Jesse James. This is what I consider to be truly an American film. Because there is nothing that says, “America” more than a western. We talked about the technicolor in class and I will have to agree that technicolor does present that natural and classic western feeling to it. Everything about this film was great! The plot, acting, stunts, and scenes were all put together very well for this time period. Another great thing about this film is that it had everything that you could want in a western film. This film had fighting, shooting, train and bank robberies, horse chases, and run-ins with law enforcement. I was surprised to find out that they actually pulled the stunt off when they jumped off of the cliff with the horses. Nowadays, trying something like that would be out of the question, mostly because of the horses’ safety. Although I do feel that people should care more for the stuntmen’s safety rather than the horses…

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  3. Janey ⋅

    I can’t believe this was my first time watching Jesse James, I feel like I should have experienced this movie a long time ago.
    With that said, I absolutely loved this film. The color was amazing, the shots were great and the story was really good. I have to say that I enjoyed the beginning more than the end. The pace at the beginning seemed to move a lot quicker and had me rooting for Jesse and Frank instantly.
    One thing that I was wondering throughout the film was how they portrayed a sense of age back then. The film seemed to cover a ten year period, but all of the actors didn’t appear to age physically, except for Jesse Jr. (the baby and then the five year old). I was when films started to incorporate portrayal of age by the actor’s appearances, besides costumes or hairstyles/beards.
    The image that sticks out the most to me from this film would have to be the horses falling from the cliff. It was such a shock to see. In one sense I think this scene is really essential to the movie, but I also feel very uncomfortable that two horses died because they were forced to be a part of a movie stunt.
    Overall, it was an exciting movie experience. I’m really glad we watched this film.

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  4. Nemokenza ⋅

    Jesse James is a classic figure in history Americana. Much like the Australia’s beloved Ned Kelly, it’s sometimes hard to tell where the truth ends and the legend begins. For the sake of discussion I will mostly speak about the film we watched in class. I quite enjoyed this film depiction of Jesse James. In true early Hollywood fashion the movie was short and simple yet to the point. The film opens up with the problem of the railroad trying to cheat the settlers out of their land at only $1 an acre. It was a great way of setting up how Jesse and his brother Frank got started as outlaws. Most people immediately think of Jesse James as outlaw straight away without taking the time to consider how it was that he became one. This movie did a good job of answering any questions of why he became an outlaw. I wish the movie mentioned the fact that Zerelda was actually his first cousin as well as his wife.

    I was impressed with a lot of the action sequences in the movie. The film managed to show certain aspects in an obviously edited manner without coming off as extremely campy or kitche. The film didn’t feel as dated as I was probably expecting it to be.

    One of my concerns that we did bring up in class however was the issue of the horses. I’m not a super animal rights advocate, however it was a bit distressing to know that horses were intentionally killed in order to make said sequence. Given the time, one feels that it might have been unavoidable to do so, however I definitely feel that there might have been another way to go about filming that scene.

    The train scene was another sequence that I quite enjoyed. I thought it was funny that the James gang lads informed the customers to make out any complaints they had about being robbed to the train company. Aside from the murder of Barshee. There was something particularly enticing about the manner in which it was carried out. The bartender aiding James in his count down also added a nice bit of comic relief.

    All in all this was a good outlaw movie and a great introduction to the life, exploits, and legend of Jesse James. My only regret is that I couldn’t stay awake for the whole thing. Perhaps I shall rob a coffee factory in homage to James.

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  5. michi1st

    Jesse James (1939) was incredible film. It was the first film we have watched that really felt like what everyone in the class knows as a movie. The budget and revolutionary technical aspects definitely show and the multi-layer plot is enticing and interesting. The characters were also very sympathetic and enticing and it really makes you get into their world. This is almost ironic because the real Jesse James wasn’t an admiral character or a domestic man like the film portrays him to be. It was a very “ideal” story for these characters, as stated above in the original post. Nowadays, this movie would probably be less “hopeful” or “idealistic.” The beginning of the Hays codes definitely show in this movie as the outlaw nature of the characters was made to be more heroic than evil—like they originally were.

    The action scenes and the Technicolor filming was astounding. When watching these kinds of movies that are older, you go in with the expectation that they are going to be very “campy” and cheap. But this film did not disappoint. It was engaging and interesting and had a “professional quality” that is reminiscent of today’s films. However, it really did feel like it was lacking something with the “just” motives behind these outlaws. It’s a real outlaw film, but it is a little light. I have not seen the remakes, but I wonder if they are also this “outlaw of justice” kind of feeling? Maybe not justice but the whole revenge factor for a good reason and family man atmosphere.

    In either case, I really enjoyed the film. I am curious about the remakes and sequels to see how they differ from this one.

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  6. Jordan ⋅

    Although I am American, and I love American films and entertainment, I have to say this was my first time watching a true Western movie (unless we count Django). It wasn’t quite what I would typically perceive to be a “western”. Strictly from a stereotype understanding, I imagine western films to be more cowboy vs. indian driven with horse chases and obviously fake shoot-out scenes. This was different to my expectations; instead of numerous of action sequences, there was much more story progression and more character development than what I would have originally expected. I found the story of a normal man turned outlaw to be quite entertaining, although I do wonder how much of this story was based in truth. The relationship with Zee and Jesse was a bit of a stretch in my opinion, although I did enjoy how they would continually fall back into each other. For an early color movie, I thought it was pretty good and it’s story still holds up to today’s standards. Despite the modern dark and gory horror movies we’re exposed to on a yearly basis, I found the scenes with the horses falling off the cliff to be a little disturbing, knowing that they didn’t survive.

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  7. hanaji0 ⋅

    We had seen several black and white films before we saw Jesse James. That is why I was shocked by its beautiful color when we start watching this film. Although it was made in 1939, the color seems to be very clear and bright. I was impressed how much improvement filmmakers in early years had made in that short time period.

    At the beginning of the story, Jesse James is an ordinary farmer boy. He looks nice and has a pretty girl friend too. Everything seems perfect. Even after he starts escaping, he and she love each other and their scenes are very cute and romantic. Because of the crucial escaping life, his attitude toward people has been changed. This change makes me sad since his life has been totally messed up regardless his original intention. The society forces him to become a robber.

    Interestingly, even though the real Jesse James in history, the original one, was famous for bank robbery, there is not any bank robbing scene in this film. Instead of that, they showed a page of newspaper many times to show what he has done. It has a train robbery scene. It is one of the most amazing scenes in this film. Jesse James gets on the top of the running train and he even moves to the front car. Since he is the only person on the top of the long train, it creates a powerful impact. Moreover, the running train makes viewers excited. Compared to this strong shot, their robbery scene is a little too simple. It does not look scary at all but that gap tells viewers that the robbers are not used to do that kind of work or they are not so bad people.

    Another beautiful scene is the horse riding scene when Jesse’s brother and Jesse ride on one horse together to escape and a group of people on the horses chase them. This scene was incredibly well made and it was hard to believe that they were able to manage shooting that spectacle scene in that period.

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  8. ken032192

    Though I’ve heard of Jesse James before as a famous and classic outlaw in America, I’ve never actually known more beyond now have I watched any films or shows that feature him before. Thankfully, I must say that I’m quite impressed with how this film represented him, and that it was yet another film that I enjoyed watching in this class. This film helped me know more and recognize Jesse James as an iconic outlaw altogether, and I’m glad it did. It was truly American in almost every way possible: the story, the characters, setting, music, dialogue, etc., pretty much everything about it was remarkably entertaining for me. I just find the very concept of Jesse living his life as an outlaw while constantly being targeted to be thrown into jail, while having a deep and loving relationship with Zee and attempting to avoid being recognized as that same outlaw (at least at the beginning) to be very intriguing. Normally outlaws are obviously evil in many ways, though in Jesse’s case he is more likable and kind-hearted in nature, having good intentions as well, and the fact that he is quite handsome makes him quite like a “sophisticated” kind of evil in a sense too.

    However, the one scene that made me a bit shocked and mortified was the death of the horses that fell from the cliff towards the end of the film. I actually felt sorry for the horses as I watched them plunge into their deaths, and makes me wonder why the creators of this movie had to sacrifice the lives of those horses just to make an emotional impact of that scene alone. Perhaps there could have been more alternate methods of keeping the horses alive even after falling from such a high distance from the cliff, like maybe some last-minue parachutes to slow their fall, or large cushions placed at the bottom of the fall. Either way, I thought the death of the horses is simply unnecessarily violent, and that it could have better off ended in the animals not being harmed whatsoever.

    All in all, I’m glad I saw this film, and I’d say that this is the best American one so far too. Perhaps outlaws like Jesse aren’t totally evil after all. I suppose he has that Robin Hood-like vibe to his character, which makes him more appealing to me.

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  9. Marya ⋅

    I was excited the fact we were finally able to watch a film in colour. Although apart of me was starting to warm up to the black and white films, after watching “ Jesse James” I am reassured that color on films leave a huge impact upon first impressions. Even though the color of the film was nowhere near what we have now, I loved how vibrant the colors appeared and how it had the vintage touch to it.

    In regards to the depiction of Jesse James, he was slightly different to what I had pictured. When the subject of an outlaw and Western comes up I tend to think of scruffy unshaved beard, gritty and masculine, Clint Eastwood type of character. However, I felt the film beautified the image of Jesse James, giving him a rather clean-cut look; there barely was any scenes where he looked messy or scruffy. I was fairly surprised with Jesse’s reaction to the scene when Zee demanded to get married, he was inclined to do so and through out the film he would try to keep his relationship with his family. This is normally something you would not expect from an outlaw, stereotypically outlaws are seen to be non-empathetic and they contain their emotional outburst. However the character Jesse is rather open about is passion for love and he is definitely a family person. The film sculptured the character of Jesse to be admirable and appealing for wide range of audience, he is handsome, passionate, faithful, and courageous. Along with the clean cut image of the character I think this added to the elements in glorification of Jesse James.

    I enjoyed the numerous action scenes that appeared in the film, some scenes were rather staggering and enhanced the tension of the scene, such scenes as the horse jumping off the cliff. Before I was informed of the horses’ death, I was impressed and curious of how they had safely pulled the stunt. However, on a brighter note, films like these were the cause of implementations of regulations to prevent misuse of animal stunts in future films.

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  10. satchi ⋅

    As many people have already said, this movie felt more “modern” than the other ones we’ve seen previously. Most likely this is because it was in color. But the action scenes and choreography also seemed a bit more like the fights scenes of today (without all the special effects). Perhaps this was because it was a western, where a lot of special effects aren’t really needed in order to have a good fight scene.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this film. The male actors and characters really were able to portray intricate, well thought out characters. I liked how Jesse’s character changed from a rather headstrong young man who fought for his rights, to an outlaw who seemed to get a thrill from being “bad”. I also liked how the marshall was first introduced as the kind of type who seemed like he was such a stickler for “good”, and while he played the role of the “good guy” in this film, he did have it in him to sass and passive-agressively go against the railroad leaders who were being total jerks, which I suppose is also going with his character trait of “always being on the moral side”. I felt sorry for him later on in the film, because it seemed that he had feelings, or at the very least cared for the lead girl, but she never seemed to figure it out. In my opinion, she really would have done better with him than with Jesse.

    As I made perfectly obvious in class, I really disliked the girl. It’s not really the fact that she played the role of the housewife, the incentive for Jesse to stay somewhat grounded, and his motivation to come home, it’s more of the fact that she kept on whining about her life and complaining and acting like a drama queen. I understand that being away from your loved one is hard to endure, but in my opinion, she KNEW she was marrying a guy on the run when they got married. She should have known what she was getting into when she decided to marry him. I have no sympathy for her whining about how difficult life with an outlaw husband is when she technically crashed a church sermon in order to get married on the run.

    In a way, I think she was supposed to portray the same character type as the wife in “Sunrise”; the sweet, loving wife who takes care of the home and children while the husband is off being insane. However, the wife from Sunrise was sweet, cute, and although she obviously was hurt by her husband, we didn’t really see her complaining. She just cried and sort of took it. All I heard from Jesse’s wife was complaining.

    Anyhow, I have no problems about this sort of “housewife” character type. Just I don’t like people who whine when I feel they have no right to. Also, she had the chance to abandon Jesse and even marry the marshall (possibly? Thought I saw something there), but she never really let go of him, even though it was obvious he wasn’t really a good match for her. So even after she had gotten herself into a bad situation, and had full opportunity to change it for herself, she didn’t. Also, compared to the other characters, I feel as if she was the one who was the least worked on, character wise, in general.

    Overall though, I enjoyed this film. It was rather sad to hear about the background story of the horse stunt though. At the very least, I am glad this sort of spurred filmmakers and animal rights activists to make it safer and kinder for animals to work on set.

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  11. Overall it was a good film. It was a good choice for an American film class. I have to say that I was actually most impressed with the stunts with the horses. Unfortunately, I’m sure that the animals were harmed during the making of the movie. These days a filmmaker could never get away with treating an animal like that, so it was interesting to watch. The horses jumping through windows and running through buildings was exciting, but I was completely shocked by the chase scene why they made the horses jump of the cliff. During that time, it would have been impossible to fake something like that with computer animation. I have never seen that before.
    I actually liked a lot of the dialogue. One of my favorite lines in the movie went something like “I’m not sorry for her. She’s gone. It’s you I’m sorry for” after the man from the railroad blew up Jesse’s mom.
    I would have liked it better if there had been more of a build up before Jesse killed that man. I thought it was a key point in the story, but it happened so fast and felt somewhat anticlimactic. Instead of focusing on gaining revenge for his mother’ death, the story seemed to revolve around Jesse and the gang randomly robbing banks and trains. This made him a less sympathetic character. I stopped caring about Jesse about halfway through the movie. I was constantly wondering why the other characters were still supporting him.
    I also didn’t care much for the female character. I thought that she was a much weaker and less interesting female character compared to the other films we have watched in this course.
    The story seemed to drag on after a certain point. I think everybody knew where the story was going, but it took so long to get there. Jesse’s death was also very disappointing. After watching that entire movie and seeing him survive so much, he is simply shot in the back. It was very unsatisfying. I also thought that all of the time jumps were confusing and hard to follow.
    The amazing stunts throughout the film saved it for me because I honestly had little interest in the characters.

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  12. Tim ⋅

    I’ve heard a lot about this film, but this was my first time to watch it. I was really excited about the fact that we were finally watching a colour film after getting a bit bored of watching those b/w ones. Despite the fact that it was made in 1939 I was impressed by the Technicolor system which was used and the overall camera work is incredible. I was also fascinated how much more advanced this film was comparing it the ones that we saw previously. However at the same time, I didn’t feel like this film was a “classic” as it didn’t have that magical touch that makes the difference between just a watchable film and a classic film,

    I was expecting Jesse James to be be a rough bad ass, however he was portrayed as a sympathetic hero and a very lovable character, despite being a robber, sort of that Robin Hood of the West type of guy. So I wonder whether this is historically accurate or not.

    As everyone else I was shocked and saddened to learn about the horses in that one scene, I just can’t help but be astounded with this cruelty towards the poor animals. Not surprisingly, this film led to changes in the film industry to protect animals.

    Overall an alright film to watch, and now I am curious to compare it to the recent remake version with Brad Pitt.

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  13. The movie Jesse James was i enjoyed very much. I have not seen to many westerns in my lifetime but this movie got me interested into watch more. Before seeing this the one of the only westerns i’ve seen was Django Unchained. I was not expecting as much blood and graphic violence but I was ready to see what Tarantino was influenced by in his western movie. The first scenes of this movie is what reeled me in. The men going through and pretty much forcing the farmers to sell their land for really cheap so they can build the railroad through their town. That actually happened back in the day. Then the scene when they tried to force Jesse’s mom out of her home was perfect. It had just enough action to get me interested in the film and made me want to see what happened in the rest of the film. The camera movement was actually pretty well done since their was a ton of moving shots on horses and following trains. The only problem I had with it was that there could be more action scenes. I know being an earlier film that was kind of tough but just two more would have been perfect. Overall the movie was well done and made me want to watch more westerns.

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  14. Yuki ⋅

    Jesse James (1939) was the first western film and the oldest color film I’d ever watched. The Japanese title of this film was “地獄の道” (The Road to Hell). The story was really about Jesse’s the road to hell.

    At the beginning of the film, he was just an ordinary farm boy. His mother, however, was killed by Barshee and his group who were railroad representatives. Since then, he had stepped into the world of outlaw and begun to fight against railroad. Even though I had never watched any western film before, I did know that it was a typical story that main character fought against railroad or some kind of modern technology and the main character was usually an outlaw. Thus while I watch Jesse James, I felt like I was watching a film which I really knew about though it was the first time to watch. I was surprised how the western films at that time were influential even in Japan.

    The other things which surprised me were the action scenes. Though the gun fight scenes were not so surprising, the horse riding scenes were incredible. For example, when Jesse failed the bank robbery and escaped, he and his horse jumped into a window of a shop. And of course the scene of a cliff. No CG. It really happened in front of the camera. Those are something that we don’t see anymore. Those were full of surprises.

    I enjoyed the film very much. This film made me want to watch another western film.

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  15. Chroma ⋅

            So far, “Jesse James” is one of my favorite movies screened in class. Hoestly, nothing says “American film” more than a good ol’ western – complet with outlaws, shootouts, and a train heist!
            I was starting to really adjust to watching films in black and white, the use of Technicolor at this time is a huge stepping stone for the industry; it really upped the ante for this classic western. For a modern-day viewer, like myself, that technology actually enhanced the feel of the time & setting of the movie.
            I coud have lived without knowing about the animal sacrifices, but for the scene where the horses were thrown off the cliff, it was a necessary evil; it wouldn’t have been as effective if the chase scene went from the edge of the cliff and then cut right to the actors in the water. That jump added tension, even if it was at the expense of animals’ and stunt men’s lives.
            Overall, the film was great and I would gladly watch it again. To see Jesse transition from a farm boy to an outlaw, and then to a loving husband and father, made the plot much more intereting and entertaining.

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  16. Roger Murdock ⋅

    As Jesse James, Tyrone Power delivered a performance that embodied the true “American” hero, the rugged individual who sacrifices himself to stand up against corruption to protect the honest man. Despite not having outstanding moral character, and taking heists too far, James cannot stifle his instinctual habits which defines the spirit of the true American hero perfectly. His downfall would eventually being betrayed by a friend, a twisted fate that he could not escape. This portrayal of a hero is evident in future films that would modernize the “Jesse James” figure which was interesting to see on screen. John McClain, who was not constricted to the confines of history as James was, embodied a similar persona in Diehard when he alone had to take on Hans Gruber to save his wife and the rest of the innocent people. This “Robin Hood” figure was great to witness, especially in Technicolor which provided a wonderful aesthetic to the film.

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  17. Chaitea ⋅

    Jesse James is a movie about two brothers who in an attempt to take revenge and stand for justice, end up in the wrong side of the law and live out their lives as out laws. It has elements of a western movie and is based on a real person.
    I really enjoyed this movie because there was a good mix of humor, action and drama in it. Like many in the class, I felt Jesse’s wife was a bit too needy, and should have known what she was getting into before marrying Jesse and leaving him. I also think she was however represented as the force of good in Jesse’s life as she is the person who in the end encouraged him to leave behind his criminal life and go live a “clean” life in California (though of course there were external factors that contributed too- like his near death experience and separation from brother and rest of the gang in the bank robbery that went wrong).
    It was interesting also to see through this movie how difficult it must have been for communities that had to sacrifice their land for new technology like the train system and also to see how people managed to live without trains in these days. When seeing the sacrifices these people made, it does raise the question whether the suffering of these people for a technological innovation is actually worth it? Thinking about today, as beneficial as technology is, it also has made terrible impacts to the environment and made community based societies that had strong relationships become more isolated.
    I was also sad to hear about the death of the animals in the filming of movies such as this one but I really am glad there are laws preventing that now.
    One of my favorite shots in the story was the train robbery where Jesse chases after the train and runs on top of the train roof. Thought it was a great shot. Also the chase scenes of Frank and Jesse were superb.

    All in all this was a very enjoyable movie.

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  18. maiorengi

    For the first half part of the film, I was not really into watching film; nevertheless, the last half was quite interesting. The character development of Jesse form innocent farmer boy to the murderous cowboy is impressively well portrayed. I sometimes thought what if Jessie did not kill the man; instead he just talked to him and got over with it. It was amazing to see how the one event can turn someone’s live into dramatic so easily. The sudden marriage between the female character and Jessie was surprising. Who would have thought that someone can be married with the person who was placed on the wanted list, besides the vow was hold in church, in a sacred place.
    Watching western film makes me wonder who the real villain is. In today’s contemporary blockbuster film, the villains are the ones who always kill someone, who has murderous action and mind. In western film, especially in Jessie James, It is not easy to find who the real villain is; it seems like everyone shows both good and evil side of them. On the grave of Jessie’s, the name of the murder as traitor of Jessie was carved on in an almost sarcastic way. Indeed, I thought the way that it was carved can be put into the elements of comedy.

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  19. Hosta Mahogey ⋅

    Jesse James is overall a great film. Again, much like my opinion on The Roaring Twenties, my favorite aspect of this film is the sheer scope. I loved how James is portrayed as a wily kid in the beginning, and how by the end he is a grizzled criminal mastermind.

    As discussed in class, the leading woman character is very cliched. She never goes through any major changes, nor does she ever seem like a strong woman (save for perhaps one quick occasion).

    The action scenes are very intense, my favorite being the horse chase scene. The thundering hooves of the horses and the tracking shots really make for a crazy experience. And of course, it all culminates with the James brothers going off a cliff with their horses. When I saw this, my jaw literally dropped. It is terrible that the horses ended up dying in real life, but it did make for a sensational scene.

    The film kept a quick pace that kept me entertained, which is rare for a film of the time. I have a very short attention span and I was surprised that I was engaged pretty much the entire movie.

    I loved Jesse’s transformation (including his mustache). I felt very sympathetic towards Jesse when he gets a little too extreme and daring due to his wife leaving him. It was sad to see him not care about dying.

    I would definitely recommend this film to just about anyone.

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  20. tatsuya ⋅

    Jesse James is one of my favorite Western films I have ever seen. The film has more modern taste than any others we have seen in class before. Using famous actors and actresses with a big amount of budget for aiming on a big hit. The plots and the storytelling were very well-organized so I could really enjoy its story.

    The image of Jesse James somehow connected to the image of James Dean to me. Even though they lived in different time periods, they were the icons of American film history.

    The time period of Jesse James was about the American Civil War so that makes the story more interesting and complicated.

    The most suprising part of this film was when the horses are thrown from the cliff and they died. It is totallyy illegal to do that nowadays but it was not when the film was taken. Also, the stunt acting for Jessie Jemes was impressive that people actually run overthe train while it is running.

    Overall, I really enjoyed this film and now want to watch other Western films to compare with Jessie James.

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  21. Having grown up on western films, I was looking forward to watching a western in class. However I can’t say I was really all that impressed with Jesse James. I felt as though it dragged on and some scenes were far too long and complicated to be affective.

    The subject of the film was quite interesting and it is a story we have seen many times. However one of the strong points of this film I felt was the actors portrayal of the character and how he changes through the different stages of his life.

    The love interest in the film frustrated me at first because I felt her character digressed from when she was first introduced up until she finally left Jesse. I can’t say I enjoyed that part of the story, even though I understood it’s necessity for developing the character of Jesse James.

    I can’t say this was a film I would watch again, and I felt almost as though its themes had many parallels with The Roaring Twenties which coincidentally was not one of my favorites either.

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  22. Jesse James isn’t a new name for me. Although I had never seen anything in regards to Jesse James, it is a very familiar name. So when I heard that we would be watching this film, I was slightly excited to be able to finally put something to that name aside from the familiarity. Though, I am not a very big fan of westerns, and so I wasn’t too thrilled on that part.
    But to my surprise, I quite enjoyed the film. It was much more entertaining and exciting than I was expecting.
    It was also in color, which does help with the viewing…although I did enjoy the black and white films too.

    I enjoyed the theme of loyalty throughout the film. While Jesse and Frank became outlaws, they became outlaws in order to help save their town. Then after Jesse marries Zee, we see him return to her numerous times. Trying to keep her safe while also making sure the relationship doesn’t die off completely.

    There were some parts where it seemed like years had gone by, but there was never a significant moment or notification to tell us that five years had passed. And these parts did throw me off a little bit, but it was not difficult to grasp and understand.

    While I enjoyed the more aggressive action scenes that were displayed in this film, I couldn’t get away from the fact that the horses used in this film were harmed. I enjoy a good film with quality acting and an amazing story line…I care more about the animals that were harmed or killed. I suppose the environmentalist within me becomes very aggressive when there are scenes like those…

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  23. tbrenji

    Jesse James in this film started out very simple, living with his older brother and mother. He didn’t seem like the typical outlaw. Instead, one would have thought the actor playing Jesse James would fit the traditional hero. The transformation from ordinary citizen to outlaw seemed very quick. After his mother’s death both Jesse and his brother seek revenge and ultimately finds it. But that was only the start of their problems. Now being wanted for murder, Jesse and his brother acquires bounties on their heads. Their actions however, made them local heroes as they challenged the reaches of the law. After achieving their revenge Jesse and his brother forms a gang and begins to rob trains. My favorite part of the film is quite possibly the line “If we are to ever have law and order in the west, the first thing we gotta do is take out the _____ and shoot ’em down like dogs.” by the paper’s editor. What I found unattractive about the film is the actual acting in the film. A lot of the times the actors constantly overacted, mainly by the lead actress “Z”. The only character I found to be believable is the peace officer “Will”. I believe what made Jesse James loved by the people was not his actions themselves but they way the citizens felt cheated by the railroad company with no way to retaliate. Jesse was the first person to do what no one else could and that was to first the railroad company that was driving people off their homes. In many ways, one can argue that it was Z who led to Jesse death. Many of the choices he made, such as turning himself in or deciding to settle down, were influence by Jesse’s love interest “Z”. The James brothers proved themselves to be very capable considering their humble beginning. Their skills were greatly featured during Jesse’s prison breakout. The part of the film’s storyline that was enjoyable was how the story displayed Jesse’s need to challenge the law after he’s had his first taste of being an outsider. During the times when Jesse tries to live a normal life, he felt uneasy and “wild”. Jesse craved to continue his life as an outlaw so much so that he missed his chance to see the birth of his child.

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  24. Carl ⋅

    From start to finish I enjoyed “Jesse James” as for I am a huge fan of westerns. What made this film very refreshing to me was the fact that Jesse came from a very humble beginning. This film became very famous due to the James brothers being forced to the wrong side of the law. However many people may not know this, but this film was based on a true story. The director of this film was Henry King. For the time 19xx this film had some amazing stunts in it. One thing in the movie that I enjoyed substantially was the train sequence. It was very funny to when the robbers told the victims that if they had any complaints to file it with the train company. Jesse James is an American staple, this was one of the first films in class that many of the students knew prior to viewing the film. One thing that I did not enjoy about this film was the fact that it took so long before the action scenes took place. However this film had a great story line. I believe this film opened many doors for other directors. In conclusion, I recommend this film to anyone who will like to further increase their knowledge of westerns.

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  25. Tad ⋅

    First off, I loved the visuals of Jesse James, the colors were great and as mentioned by Kris, the soft look was also very nice. As others have mentioned, Jesse James one of the first modern films for me simply because of the type of hero Jesse is. For a long time the modern action hero in movies was a man of simple beginnings who stepped up and took action and this is seen in a lot of action movies in the 80’s and 90’s( a good example of this is Bruce Willis’ character in Die Hard). These kind of “everyman” heroes are my favorite so it was refreshing to watch an entertaining film with this kind of hero in it. Especially because with the rise of super hero movies it seems the new American hero is one that is perfect in every way, which makes them hard to relate with.

    On the topic of westerns, westerns are one of my least favorite genres, simply because the stories aren’t all that interesting for me and I tend to equate films shot out in the desert to be kind of cheap because I’ve seen a lot of low budget movies that have been shot in the desert because its cheap. Despite this, the plot of Jesse James was surprisingly good, so I’m glad that Karl added this to his list because it was nice to be able to watch a good western.

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