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Tricia's retro film review: I Shot Jesse James

I Shot Jesse James


I Shot Jesse James is the 1949 western directed by Samuel Fuller. Robert Ford wants out of Jesse James’ gang in order to marry his actor girlfriend, Cynthy. He shoots Jesse James in the back, but not only does he not get the full reward, everyone thinks he’s a spineless coward because he shot a man in the back. To make matter worse, he suspect John Kelley of wanting Cynthy for himself. Bob goes to Colorado during a “silver rush” to earn enough money to be able to marry Cynthy. He has to murder another prospector to get it. What will happen when Cynthy comes to Colorado?

It’s okay, but one does have to wonder why everyone is sticking up for Jesse James. The movie does do a good job of showing Robert Ford’s dilemma. Although the scene where he kills the prospector feels a little bit like an act of cartoonish super villainy. The ending leaves it up in the air if Cynthy and John will marry, but it’s a safe bet they’ll do. It’s good at showing that even in the past, people will exploit history as a story, providing a bit of wry meta-commentary. I Shot Jesse James turns out to be ahead of its time. Honolulu western fans may want to rent it.

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