That’s good news for all of us who love westerns. I’ve seen 3:10 to Yuma and loved it, despite it’s rather cringe-in-your-seat violence. I will admit to never having seen the original in its entirety, but I really thought the acting in this remake was superb. Then again, maybe it was my hunger for a good western on the big screen that swayed my judgement a little. Who could argue with the acting talents of Russell Crowe and Christian Bale?
The newest movie to hit the big screen this week is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Jesse James by far, led a very tumultuous, intriguing life. He lived from 1847 until 1882 and was the most famous member of James-Younger gang. The desperado was most famous for his train robberies and 15 murders.
His father, Robert James was a Baptist minister and a farmer from Kentucky. He helped found the William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri. He died in California prospecting for gold when Jesse was three years old.
Jesse James was shot by Union militia when he attempted an attack on them one month after the war’s end. Badly injured, Jesse was nursed back to health by his first cousin, Zerelda, “Zee” Mimms and they began a long courtship that ultimately led to marriage.
Jesse didn’t become famous until he shot a cashier in 1869, when he and his brother Frank, robbed a bank in Gallatin, Missouri. The murder was an act of revenge, mistakenly believing the cashier was Samuel Cox, a militia man who’d killed “Bloody Bill Anderson” during the civil war. The James’ brothers escape from that robbery and murder marked them as notorious outlaws.
The James brothers, along with Cole Younger and his brothers, Bob and Jim, Clell Miller and others in the gang, continued a string of robberies from Iowa to Texas and from Kansas to West Virginia. They hammed it up in front of large crowds as they robbed banks and stagecoaches but they rarely robbed the bystanders. The gang turned to robbing trains in 1873 and only twice did Jesse rob passengers. His antics heralded Jesse James as a Robin Hood bandit.
With his gang depleted by arrests and deaths Jesse thought he had only two men left whom he could trust: brothers Bob and Charley Ford, but he didn’t know that Bob Ford had been conducting secret negotiations with the Missouri governor to bring him in. By now, the railroads and express corporations offered a $10,000 reward for Jesse James. In April 1882, as James prepared for another robbery, he climbed a chair to dust a picture and was shot in the back of the head by Bob Ford.
It Is Rumored:
That Ford didn’t really kill Jesse James. It was someone else in that house living with his wife, in an elaborate plot to allow him to escape from justice.
That a man named J. Frank Dalton claimed to be the real Jesse James. He died in Granbury, Texas at the age of 103 in 1951.
The body of Jesse James was exhumed in 1995 and tests done had proven that they’d gotten the right man.
Brad Pitt as Jesse?
Brad fits the profile of a good-looking blonde Jesse around the same age. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’ve been a fan of Brad’s ever since Legends of the Fall, but I worry that the movie might make Jesse out to be a hero, instead of the heartless killer that he was. Even back then, the dime novels and news accountings for the South, immortalized him in a positive light. When doing research about the movie I learned that originally it was to be a character study of Jesse James, but then the directors decided to make it more an action picture. They claim it’s dark and I hope that’s the case. Jesse James was not just a bandit, but a heartless killer and hardly the “Robin Hood” they depicted him to be – he never gave back to the poor. I know I’ll be in line to see the movie coming out this week with hopes that they portray him accurately.
TOP 20 ALL TIME WESTERN MOVIES:
1. High Noon – (1952) (Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly, Lloyd Bridges)
2.The Treasure of the Sierra Madre – (1948) (Humphrey Bogart, Walter Huston)
3. Shane– (1953) (Alan Ladd, Jean Arthur, Van Heflin)
4. The Magnificent Seven – (1960) (Yul Brynner, Steve McQueen, Charles Bronson)
5. Virginia City – (1940) (Errol Flynn, Randolph Scott, Miriam Hopkins)
6.Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid – (1969) (Paul Newman, Robert Redford)
7. The Wild Bunch– (1969) (William Holden, Ernest Borgnine)
8. Stagecoach– (1939) (John Wayne, Claire Trevor, John Carradine)
9.The Shootist – (1976) (John Wayne, Lauren Bacall, James Stewart)
10. The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly– (1966) (Clint Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, Eli Wallach)
11. The Searchers – (1956) (John Wayne, Jeffrey Hunter)
12.Rio Grande– (1950) (John Wayne, Maureen O’Hara)
13. A Man Called Horse – (1970 (Richard Harris, Judith Anderson)
14. The Outlaw Josey Wales – (1976) (Clint Eastwood, Sondra Locke)
15. Little Big Man– (1970) (Dustin Hoffman, Faye Dunaway, Chief Dan George)
16. The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance – (1962) (John Wayne, James Stewart, Vera Miles)
17. Unforgiven– (1992) (Clint Eastwood, Gene Hackman, Morgan Freeman)
18. Once Upon a Time in the West – (1969 (Henry Fonda, Charles Bronson)
19. Dances with Wolves – (1990) (Kevin Costner, Mary McDonnell, Graham Greene)
20. High Plains Drifter – (1973) (Clint Eastwood, Verna Bloom)
How many of these are on your all time favorite list? Does the star make the western or does the western make the star? And do you think these two new movies will compare to the classics?