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2016 Screening #3: Jesse James (1939) – 106 min.


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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.). A very handsome Tyrone Power can be seen in the role of  the main character. He is 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.  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 changing the facts into such a positive portrayal?

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

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117 responses to “2016 Screening #3: Jesse James (1939) – 106 min.

  1. Frank Bullitt ⋅

    It also has to be said to all those that say that Jesse James took it too far by robbing the banks and harming the communities that the motives for some (maybe not all) of the heists were the connections those banks had to politicians and companies.

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  2. Eddie ⋅

    I also agree it was really easy to understand how circumstances changed this Jesse james from an honest character into a crook, What I don’t understand was the idea of robbing banks instead of sticking to the railway. Also it can be easily relatable to most people today because unfortunately not much has changed in the way that people have to deal with corporate powers in their day to day dealings. The government at times still forces people from their lands and allows for corporate interest to overrule the interests of individuals. A prime example of this would be the North Dakota Pipeline resistance that is taking place at this very moment in the United states. It’s a sad and unfortunate reality that the movie forces us to realize. I can sympathize with his character completely.
    The film also made me do further research into the character of Jesse James as a real person which was really interesting. I’ve always been interested in history so for me it was a lot of fun reading about the things he’d done and how he’d been killed. I read that his wife and kid lived in poverty for the remainder of their lives which is interesting since now that he is a huge part of American western history I’m sure his possessions are worth millions to collectors. I don’t know if I ‘ll call it ironic or not that the exploits that caused him so much grief in life could potentially provide for his descendants for years and years to come.
    I’ve never really liked westerns and still can’t call myself a fan because I feel the history is very one sided, skewed and whitewashed to the degree that many peoples perceptions of the past are awfully off the mark and far from historically accurate. Either way it was a nice film, and mildly romantic. I would like to see it done with more historical accuracy if they were to ever reshoot it. Over all I give the film 3 stars out of 5.

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    • IsThePartyOver ⋅

      @Eddie Banks and the railway/government are all connected, they are the ones in power and the ones who control the fate of a country. Add big corporations, and you have the same situation today. Jesse fought the establishment, it makes perfect sense.
      As for Westerns not being historically accurate, you have to consider the timeframe they were made, the most accepted ideas of race and gender during that time and last but not least, the business nature of films. I’m inclined to believe that white people make up the majority of the US population and so it is understandable why producers/directors pick white actors instead of other ethnicities. I don’t necessarily agree with that, however, such is reality. As a side note, I’ve read articles that claim that the Wild West wasn’t as “cool” as pop culture has depicted it over the years, so in that respect we can thank the historical inaccuracy.

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  3. youngbillionaire ⋅

    Last class we talked about the history of western films and learned the background history of the film Jesse James. We also discussed about the real Jesse James and his family, and how Jesse James was the one to die youngest in his family. I also leaned how some events were changed or modified from the real story of Jesse James. From example in the film Jesse James’s mother dies but in real life Jesse James’s mother didn’t die. This is the first time we watched a movie based on a real person, so in was interesting to compare and learn about the original story and the movie.

    In class I learned that the film showed Jesse James as a hero, which was true to an extent, but the railroad company people were not that evil. As Jesse James is from south he was a pro confederate and I didn’t realize or think about that fact when I first saw the film.

    Before when I saw the film I thought I understood the setting of the film perfectly and had a good picture of the time, but after discussion I’ve gotten a new perspective on the movie and the characters of the movie.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      It’s interesting that Jesse James is different between real life history and the movie. In my opinion, it happens to any historical people. For example, the three kingdoms in China is made based on the real history. The similarity between Jesse James and the three Kingdom is that the characters have superhuman power like a guy kills more than a thousand enemies. The reason why those stories were made could be people back then would like to create a hero or an idol. In Kanji, idol means the imaginal or untouchable character, and people believe in them. Based on it, I assume that people want them in order to get away from the reality to wish that the real life isn’t true. Those mind spread because the number of people in the lower class is bigger than in the upper class.

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  4. IsThePartyOver ⋅

    Learning that Jesse James was pro-Confederate surprised me, especially in light of how positively he is portrayed in the film regardless of his wrong deeds. If you think about it, it is very amusing to see how the filmmakers picked him to represent an anti-establishment symbol in a different era where the very things that Jesse might have fought for as a pro-Confederate, would be looked down, or deemed obsolete or simply wrong. Still, he is the anti-hero the society of the late 30s needed to see, and apparently it worked really well. I did like the film upon first watch, but learning the history and facts behind it make this film so much more interesting and leave me curious about how other adaptations have portrayed him.

    Also, rest in peace the horse that rode over the cliff. It was a great shot though, for that the horse can rejoice in his grave or wherever it’s gone to.

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    • pizzaboy ⋅

      I think the anti-confederate sentiment kind of lends to the general anti-establishment theme of the film. The railroad company can represent the big-businesses that were dominant in the burgeoning Republican Party (GOP) party that appeared post-civil war, while the south was obviously in rebellion to the people that cut their productivity basically to the point of floundering.

      It’s possible that his-pro-confederate sentiments may have delegitimized him in a weird way.

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  5. White Rabbit ⋅

    I think it’s very impressive that the technicolor technology used in Jesse James was used for such a long time. For instance, I think we discussed how Toy Story and Pearl Harbor both used technicolor as well!!!? That’s impressive… It was also interesting to learn about film casualties, and as some have mentioned, the fact that a horse died from the cliff scene. It’s reassuring that the AHA emerged as a result, working to prevent further casualties like this one. It was also intriguing to learn that many westerns used traps to make horses tumble for film effects. Not sure I’d ever want to be the one riding the horse, regardless of how experienced I could be as a stunt man. I want to re-watch the glass scene, where apparently it was filmed in slow motion? Maybe I misunderstood that part in class, but it certainly sounds awesome. And to believe that many films still use this concept…!! It was also interesting that a handsome man was used for the act of Jesse James. I guess that part still hasn’t changed much today, where the hero is also ironically a stud. Unfortunately, that isn’t necessarily realistic. I mean, maybe Jesse James really was gorgeous, but somehow I doubt he looked anything like the actor. I suppose that’s Hollywood at its best…

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    • pizzaboy ⋅

      I find the comment about his looks kind of humorous because I remember watching a show on the History channel when I was a kid that commented about how there was an old picture of a handsome cowboy and pretty saloon girl. It was pointed out how unlikely this would have been in reality. If I remember correctly, I believe Billy The Kid actually looked similar to Marilyn Manson…but with the makeup on. I do remember seeing a lot of cartoons stating that they were filmed in technicolor, but I never thought to pay attention to the difference in actual films.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      I was surprised that the real horses were used, not the fake ones. The reason is that they could guess if the horses would possibly die when they were fell in the cliff because as we could see, the height of the cliff is high, and even human could die if he or she falls in there. They could’ve thought that if the horses or the stuntmen died, it’d cost more not paying the responsibility but hiring new stuntmen and horses. However, I understand that the filmmaker wanted to use them because the scene would become gorgeous. We must accept the fact that many stuntmen died during the shooting behind the scene.

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      • conan ⋅

        I was very surprised that they used the real horses too. The stunt was so real and spectacular. The scenes I especially liked are where Jesse and Frank ride their horses off of a cliff into the river and the other is where they ride their horses crashing into a shop window as they flee from the law.
        It is cruel that a horse has died behind the scene but I guess I could say that at least the horse didn’t die in vain. And I think it proved that filmmakers should care more about such matters. It was good to know that the scene was actually used.

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    • dinerbears ⋅

      i am impressive for the technicolor too. when i first head this is first color movie at that time i thought this might be very terrible. this is kind of stereotype for me. However, it come up pretty good. Also for the house part i am surprise that they using the real horse not the fake one because now the day people would not used real one filmmaker usually used the fake one and do the editing late. i do agree with you that since the movie come up people would like handsome man to be the main actor in the movie this thing never change.

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  6. postnroast ⋅

    Reading a few post from what happened in the previous class, I understand that the movie Jesse James is a fictional tale that was fabricated to most likely glorify Jesse James. On the idea that Jesse James was the first to pass away in his family, the film may have been a homage to Jesse. There are a few discrepancies here and there where things don’t line up with Jesse’s life but I think that’s on the fact that it’s a product that must be sold, so movies tend to dramatize events for the viewers enjoyment. Even so, in the viewing that was shown in class, my opinion on Jesse James character have not changed. His political standing I may not agree with, but I think that the sympathy for a criminal is so scarce and narrow that I feel compelled to put myself in his position to find the good in his thinking and I do; anyone in the running for your life line of business has no other option but to keep running.

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  7. Sierra94 ⋅

    Personally, I do not think that the various Hay Code-era films about Jesse James or Bonnie and Clyde necessarily end the way they do to appease the “criminals must always be punished” quota of the code. Rather, they are merely portraying what happened in real life, with or without some liberties taken along the way. As we saw in the 1939 “Jesse James” film, one of the Ford brothers shot Jesse to death when his back was turned. Of course, in the film, Jesse managed to stay alive for a few moments to make the scene more dramatic, unlike in real life where he was shot in the head. I have not seen any of Bonnie and Clyde films, but I suppose they were depicted slightly differently from real life as well. Granted, most films that are based on real people have taken many liberties in their portrayal of their subjects, so I was not surprised to hear that the 1939 Jesse James film was the same.
    Perhaps a controversial point, but I guess I can understand the use of redface (is that the right term?) in a European film because of the extremely small number of Native Americans in Europe, much less those who are actors. That said, it is always best to cast people who actually are of the same ethnicity as the character they are to portray. Perhaps the producers could have flown to the USA and hire some Native Americans to act in their film, but I am unsure about what sort of taxes and the like that the European producers would have had to pay to film in the USA.
    As for the American live-action film adaptations of Japanese anime, I cannot say they are necessarily any worse than the Japanese live-action film adaptations of Japanese anime. I have not seen any American adaptations (at least none that I remember of, anyway), the Japanese ones I have seen often felt like the live-action TV series that have been adapted from manga or anime but with different screen filters and lasts for two or three times longer than a single episode. Not to mention that just like the whitewashing of Asian characters in the American adaptations, there are examples of Asianwashing (I’m not sure if this is the right term, either) in the Japanese adaptations. Two recent examples that come to mind are Fullmetal Alchemist and Attack on Titan, both of which are set in a fictionalised Europe with most of the characters being white (possibly Germanic, based on their locations), along with what appears to be Middle Eastern people in FMA. It does not help that in both series, there are a few characters who do come from East Asia and that is what’s supposed to make them particularly special on top of their various skills. In the end, live-action adaptations of anime tends to be shit regardless of what country they are made in and I hate the arbitrary changing of characters’ ethnicities from the source material, whether they are changed to European, African, Asian, or anything else.
    Maybe I am just crazy, but I do not need any of these characters to be of the same gender, ethnicity, sexuality, or anything else as me for me to “relate” to them. I mean, even if they do happen to be a bisexual (yes, bisexuals do exist, despite what straight or gay people say), half-Japanese/half-Germanic male, I cannot relate to them because I am not some sword-wielding hero who fights evil or whatever the hell it is they do. The most I can relate to are the emotions of any character, regardless of their background, as in “I would feel the same if this happens to me” or something along that line.

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    • theSiren_Song ⋅

      I understand what you say about “White-washing”, but its not the fact of whether the audience relates to them, its the lack of cultural representation in Hollywood films. Hollywood films that are adaptations of anime or other countries (mainly asian) films give Hollywood an opportunity to represent other races, to give actors of other ethnicity the opportunity to be seen and heard. Right now, its a huge celebration when a non-white actor/ess wins awards and in my opinion it shouldn’t be that way. Sadly it is. What the class I believe was saying is that there should be more representation. There are extremely talented actors/esses out there who can represent the characters (Major Kusanagi from Ghost in the Shell for example) and when they give said roles to white actors/esses, Hollywood takes away the opportunity for an Asian actor/ress to be seen and heard. Its very clear in Hollywood that white actors/resses have more opportunities in Hollywood than other ethnicity.

      Along with that, many of the ethnicity are put into stereotyped boxes which can be damaging to the way society views certain races. Asian males are seen as either the nerdy smart or the nerdy funny weird guys. Rarely as the hero or the main love interest which causes Asian men to be seen as undesirable. Whereas Asian women are over-sexualized and seen as submissive. One way to break down these negative stereotypes is the give equal opportunities to different ethnicity to be seen in multiple different roles. The mass media controls heavily the way races and ethnicity are viewed. And this restricting races to certain roles is damaging.

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  8. itsthesky20 ⋅

    I agree similarly to what my other classmates comments about Jesse James being portrayed as a “Hero” considering his background of being a part of a gang in real life. Personally, I was shocked to see Jesse James character being killed in the end. When his character showed a change of attitude “positively” my expectation of how the movie would end changed. I expected that he would have his chance to his “happy ending” obviously I thought wrong since he was shot dead in the end. However when I think about it yes, it actually makes sense being killed in the end with all the crazy things that Jesse had done in the movie. There I see how a lot of people from that era related in the film. Just what was discussed in class, the film hit home by relating into people’s living circumstances and status during the Great Depression.

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    • TaiwanSwag ⋅

      I had the same expectation for the ending while watching the movie too. It was shocking to see Jesse James died after changing his mind to do something good, at least for his family. But I like the idea of how they end the film with a somewhat happy funeral to celebrate his acts of justice to help the people in the farms to get what they deserved. It kind of connects to how although Jesse James was at the time pro-confederate, he was still celebrated for his fight against the Union.

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  9. RM ⋅

    After our last class, where we discussed briefly the real jesse james, I became curious and did a little bit of reading on wikipedia. What I found was quite interesting, the real jesse james was hardly a hero he was more a guerrilla fighter for the south, and after the civil war ended he became little more than a thief . The reason he enjoyed public sentiment and was so famous turned out to be because of his friendship with a newspaper man, who jesse would often contact and relate his deeds. This is portrayed in the film to some extent. One of the most interesting facts I uncovered though, is the fate of the man who shot Jesse James. It was ten years after the murder of james when a man walked into Robert Fords bar, said “hello Bob” and shot him in the neck with a shotgun. He apparently died instantly. Quite a theatrical end, it sounds like something out of a Tarantino film.

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    • Sorabari ⋅

      It’s interesting that the real Jesse James isn’t hero, but hero is defined by what the side you’re at. If you’re in the government group, you might define him as villain, while if you’re a village, and Jesse James fights against the government, you probably define him as a hero. Therefore, it depends on which position we are in. Another reason why it’s interesting is that we happen to know that some hero in fairy tale or anecdote was actually disliked people in real life while we study history such as Nezumi Kozo (Japanese thief living in Edo) and Salvatore Giuliano (Italian thief in 1920’s). Those are called gentlemen thieves, and people who are positioned in the lower class supported them and even appreciate them.

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  10. RM ⋅

    I want to begin by saying that the film was very enjoyable. I’ve never been a huge fan of westerns but I have fond memories of watching them with my dad whenever they would come on T.V. This film impressed me in a lot of ways, something that is becoming a familiar theme in this class is my surprise at just how sophisticated film was even in its infancy compared to today. This film was clearly shot on location, the use of backdrops or matte paintings seems to be completely absent. The sets are complex and seem full of life and details. The scenes that took place at the railroad stations were particularly spectacular, the amount of extras and horses they had moving about made the screen come alive. This whole film has a feeling of life to it. The camera work too was interesting, I’m curious to know just how exactly they planned and shot the chase scenes in this film. I would also praise this film for its use of shadow, a night scene that sticks out to me is the one in which Jesse sneaks back to see his girlfriend, the Marshal is waiting half in shadow for him to walk out of the house and the silhouette he has is particularly menacing. Before we began viewing this film we talked in class about the implementation of the hays code and how it made films much less violent and more tame. I was really surprised then when one of the first scenes in the movie is the bad guys beating up some poor kid. The movie was consistently action packed and did not seem to suffer much from the code. The murder of james in particular was cold blooded and violent. It would be interesting to see an example of another western from this time period that was not allowed to get away with so much. I look forward to seeing the next film to be screened.

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  11. OOR ⋅

    I watched the movie called “Jesse James” has rich-looking production values and a story to tell that borders on the mythic . . . or the demythologized, and it’s highly selective in the story it tells. For example, it makes no mention of the James brothers’ background as ruthless Confederate guerrillas during the Civil War. Rather, Jesse (Power) and Frank (Fonda) are presented as simple farm folk (albeit good with guns) who turn to violence when a brutish agent for the railroad attempts to seize their land – and kills their mother with a bomb. Not having seen the film since childhood, I was surprised to learn that – quite against my expectations – it doesn’t present a “Robin Hood” version of the James legend in which the boys rob the rich in order to give to the poor (although it fails to address what the James Gang members did do with all their ill-gotten cash).
    I was equally surprised to see that late in the proceedings the movie presents Jesse as increasingly paranoid and megalomaniacal after a decade of lawlessness, but here’s the thing – even as it shows all this, it glosses over the dark side. It’s still a Hollywood movie trying to make us fall in love with Jesse James. And it does a pretty good job of it. Also, it’s really interesting seeing how the Hollywood telling of this story evolved over a period of 70 or so years. None of the Hollywood versions had much to do with the real story or known history, but this one was certainly one of the most entertaining of them all. I felt that every scene with Cobb in it, and the “playing Jesse James” scene toward the end were both beautiful pieces of work. Tyrone Power was excellent, and Fonda (for all of the half dozen scenes in which he gets to do actual acting) was as good as always.

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  12. Nyphos ⋅

    Jesse James was an enjoyable film. I think it’s interesting now to find out that Jesse was pro-confederate. I watched this film as a child once and always thought he was a hero, but now with context, I guess that he’s more of an anti-hero.
    I feel that for the hays code, this film was definitely pushing the rule about being “sympathetic” towards criminals. While watching the film, in the end where Jesse is shot in the back, I felt sad and disappointed. But even now knowing the history behind the character and finding out that he wasn’t really a good guy, I still feel sympathetic towards his death and angry with the man who murdered him. This is most likely because in the film, he was portrayed to be finally quitting the gang, but I wonder how true this is to the real story. If he was still planning on robbing trains and such, then I wonder if I would still feel such sympathy for his character.
    Also during the screening, I remember wondering if anyone was hurt during the scene where they jumped off the cliff, and it’s sad to find out that the horse actually died. I wonder how such deaths during filming affected the cast and crew members.

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  13. TaiwanSwag ⋅

    I found more impressive discoveries with the production of Jesse James rather than the story itself after the discussion in class today. It was very impressive that the film used technicolor like the ones in Toy Story back in the day. Moreover, without all the aftereffects today, they really had the horse ran through the window and actually jump off the cliff for the scene. It was shocking to know that actually one of the horses died from jumping off the cliff. It is interesting to learn that Jesse James was actually pro-confederate and was celebrated for his dedication in the West. Also it was interesting to learn that he was a guy who works well with the media to all his advantages.

    The position of Pinky is still very unclear at the end. He had more dialogues and actions then he should of for that character in the film, but he somehow didn’t affect the decision of Jesse James or the story at all. He is still more like a slave because he always follows the commands of James’ family. I like the idea that was mentioned in class that maybe the character Pinky was to avoid racist and slavery issue to pass the censorship issue back in the time.

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  14. GreenBanana ⋅

    We’ve seen couple black and white films before, and now its time for colored film, and i was exited. Well, black and white films are also great, but i believe that color could add more expressions and taste to a film. I personally like the color of this film and beautiful. Jessie James was actually my second western film I’ve ever watched. My first western film I’ve ever watched was a “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid. I thought their stories are quite similar. The two cowboys, Butch Cassidy and Sundance Kid , are duo who robbed trains and stole money from place to place in the united stated until they fled to Bolivia. James brothers are also duo and an outlaw. They also rubbed train and bank and pursue to get revenge to whom killed their mother. In the beginning the story is in face paced and i enjoyed watching it. However when it comes to ending, it was little confusing. I personally didn’t like the horse stunt. Also the ending sense was both sad. Is Western films are usually like this? However, I love the acting, camera work is good, and the dialect is clear so it wasnt difficult to watch.

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  15. jonsnow ⋅

    This film was interesting to me for a number of reasons. It always intrigues and slightly pains my eyes when I see old films that jumped headfirst into the technicolor pool. The contrast and saturation is quite extreme, but I guess overdoing it is just a natural effect after decades of shooting only in black and white. Another thing that interested me (but also disheartened myself a bit) was the historical inaccuracy of the film’s plot. After reading into the history behind the real Jesse James whom this film was based on, I see that the filmmakers might have fantasized and heroized the original character quite a bit. The movie portrays him as a Robin Hood do-gooder vigilante type character, who commits crimes in the name of a greater good. The James brothers’ whole purpose begins in order to avenge their mother who is killed by a group of railroad representatives. However, in real life they seemed to be true criminals who committed crimes purely out of self-interest. This was a film that I could relate to my experience of watching the animated movie Anastasia from 1997. It was another film that was famous for its fantastical and overly fictitious retelling of the story of Anastasia, the Grand Duchess of Russia. It was also another film where I watched the movie first, prior to knowing any of the story’s historical background, and was subsequently extremely disappointed after finding out just HOW inaccurate the events of the movie were. I’m not sure why, but for me, this aspect ruined the movie for me. Once I found out that even the core character’s values and character were circumstantial, I couldn’t view the film without thinking about how falsified the plot was. I think that if I had known of Jesse James’s history prior to watching the movie, I would have liked the movie much more, but because I hadn’t, I felt like I had been fooled and duped into viewing Jesse James in an admirable way. I couldn’t enjoy the film anymore. This may be a selfish and contingent reason to dislike a movie, but I think it also offers an interesting perspective on why we like certain movies and why some are disappointing to us. Sometimes when we watch films for a second time, and you might think “This movie is actually pretty good, why did I hate it so much before?” or “God this is awful, what did I ever see in this movie?!” It’s interesting to think about who we were/what our taste in movies are at a certain time, and then revisit that movie again and be able to notice differences in not only the movies but in ourselves as well.

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    • conan ⋅

      I agree with your opinion on the James brothers being true criminals. That bothered me after watching the film. Although, at the time this film was made, maybe it was necessary for the film director to present a story like this in a way that contained crimes and immoral acts, it portrayed the James brothers in a more romanticized look. Jesse James committed crimes. I feel like this film cuts down the negative issues a little bit too much, and put focus on his good characteristics too much. Hollywood often does this but I don’t think it’s appropriate to show those bad criminals as the good guys. For me, it seems like what these kinds of films do is make crimes cool and supply the motivation for committing crimes to young people. But Jesse James paid the price in the end so it might work well as film.
      I also agree when you say Jesse James is historical inaccurate. Some scene were different from the ones that I looked up online. So that’s one of the things filmmakers have fantasized too. But I did enjoy the film and I think it is fun to watch if you can care less about those facts.

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  16. GreenBanana ⋅

    Jesse James is a western film based off the real story of an outlaw that existed in America in the late 1880s. Jesse James was a bank robber, train robber and murderer that fought the law in order to set things right and help those in need, especially his family. Jesse and his brother gained bad reputation when they were still alive and Jesse became the face of the wild west following his death in 1882. He was assassinated by Robert Ford, a member of his own gang, to receive a bounty that was put on Jesse’s head during his period of criminal activity. Ive read some online source on the web and some people criticize the film for not being historically accurate, but I think that the film was successful due to the fact that a few events and circumstances were changed. The changes made the story progress more smoothly and created more drama to keep the audience interested in the film. Like other films pertaining to Jesse’s life or other western films made during that time, outlaws were idealized and made out to be different from their real world selves.
    Jesse James delivers a more positive portrayal of Jesse’s character which gives a more refreshing outlook on the reasons behind him and others becoming outlaws. I believe that the audience can relate to and sympathize with his character more if shown in a positive light. Jesse and his gang are portrayed as fighters of injustice although they commit dangerous crimes. This film comments on the struggles of the youth at the time and the fight against corruption like bank or government. It also focuses on what one must do to protect the ones they love and the sacrifices one must make to survive in the wild west. I found this movie to be somewhat interesting although it is one of my least favorite film genres.

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    • dinerbears ⋅

      i think jesse James is typical hero American movie. their template is really similar than classical Hollywood movie. At the first i did not enjoy watched Jesse James because i do not like the gun shoot sounds. However, after second part of movie i think it is much interesting because what he do is want to save the people’s life and help the society. in the middle of part when his wife take his kid leave he and went back to the town. that part make me sad. i think this part make audience sympathy the hero because they are lonely.

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  17. Peach ⋅

    Jesse James is an excellent modern-day story of Robin Hood, with a decent quality of filmography. The actors are great, and really enhance the plot. Seeing how the film was very profitable, I would assume that the general audience would also be in agreement. One of the opening scenes was absolutely epic, when Jesse and his brother brawl with the city folks. The scene really sets the stage for both the James brothers, giving us the impression that no one should dare to fight with either of them. It also propels the direction of the film, when the James’ mother is killed. It is unfortunate that both brothers never find peace following the mother’s death, and in some sense, both of them die on a sad note.

    Some of the stunts in the film were also very remarkable. If I recall correctly, a horse was killed in the cliff scene, which spurred the use of “no animals were harmed in the making of this film”. It’s unfortunate that it took a horse’s death to prompt such strong response, however it’s great to see that the appropriate actions were taken. I’m not familiar with the laws currently in place, however I would imagine that some limits are set. For instance, if a bug is killed, or a dog is accidentally crippled, the liability is most likely limited. Otherwise, it is equally unreasonable to expect films like Beethoven to exist without the use of a real dog. With technology however, it is certainly possible to replace animals with animated or CG characters. Unfortunately, not every film has the required budget to produce this type of content. It’s far less expensive to use a live animal.

    The scenic shots are also great, giving us a sense that Jesse James really lives in a different world. For instance, when they are riding horses in the wilderness, as an audience, we are convinced that they are riding in the wild west. In reality, the scene may be filmed in a far more urban setting. This can also be said of the bar scene. Despite that it may be an average bar, the director succeeds in depicting a hostile environment and conflict, which illustrates the differences between the country life and city life. In this case, the railroad company represents the advancement in the city life, where the country folks resist change. In some ways, the division between the city and country can still be seen today in America, often evident in politics: Conservatives versus Liberals.

    Jesse James is also a very interesting and realistic character. Unlike modern-day superheroes, Jesse is very human. He’s symbolic to the American way of anti-establishment, however still flawed in many ways. He’s a thief, a bad husband, and in some ways, a horrible father. In this way, it is easy to embrace his character. Many men today, especially what is considered a “redneck”, would see Jesse James as a relevant icon. In some ways, even politically, such a stereotype still plays on the need to preserve the “good old America”, or as Trump claims it, “Making America Great Again”.

    Jesse’s brother, maybe a less-controlled individual, also helps drive the story, and brings out the best in Jesse James. He certainly appears to be the less controlled of the two brothers, ready to jump into action. His drive and urge to fight seems to spur much of the conflict throughout the film, even though the brothers part ways in time. At first however, the film depicts the strong bond between brothers, who stick together and fight for one another. This type of relationship, in many ways, is absent in today’s world. This type of bond fully expresses the cultural values of the country folk, and how it often differs from the urban family structure of the evolving city life.

    One of the class students mentioned that his family was somehow connected to Jesse James, and that he was indeed an unpleasant man. To some degree, should this be true, it really speaks to the embellishment of Hollywood movies. I understand that it’s an industry revolving around profitability, and for this reason, stories are often tailored to please the audience. However, it’s also great when a story is told from a realistic approach. That being said, it would seem that Jesse James is portrayed in a far brighter light than he was in real life.

    The film is also very convincing in the way it evolves his character. Jesse appears to be far more innocent and pure as a character in the beginning, desiring the love of his life. However in the end, he’s lost in his way, nothing more than a thief and a coward. It’s very unfortunate. I also wonder what his story would’ve been, if he had chosen not to kill the train guy. Maybe he would have lived a wonderful life, yet never inspired generations following his epic and often legendary story. It was equally discouraging to see how his son was treated. When playing with the other kids, they played the game where Jesse James is killed. In some ways, it’s sad to see that the boy would grow up with negative impressions of his father, who is later assassinated and absent from the family’s life.

    When Jesse James is assassinated at the end of the film, my heart sank. For once, he was making the right decision and put his family’s interest first, and yet he suffers the fate of a coward. The ruthless man, who kills Jesse without thinking of the consequences it would later have on his wife and son, is a coward. All he could think of is the money, and not the consequences of his actions. Certainly, Jesse was no angel, but did he deserve to die? I don’t think so. In some ways, this type of resolution reflects the old approach to handling criminals. Today, you would never see a reward for capturing a criminal, dead or alive. Rather, we rely on the police and the justice system to counter problems with crime.

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