Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Jesse James

Simple, humble Missouri country boy Jesse James (Tyrone Power) and his volatile brother Frank (Henry Fonda) are stirred to a life of crime after their poor mother (Jane Darwell) is murdered by railroad agents. After taking a wife (Nancy Kelly), Jesse's Robin Hood like actions quickly elevate him to near mythic status before being shot dead by a member of his own crew (John Carradine). Henry King's "Jesse James" is an entertaining retelling of the outlaw's life story which probably bears little to no resemblance of the real thing. Power lacks bite in the lead role and seems to be there solely for his looks, but Fonda is (unsurprisingly) astounding as his brother (he would reprise the role a year later in "The Return of Frank James"). I thought the film somewhat fizzled towards the end, but an daring, exquisitely filmed early train raid sequence also makes this well worth watching.