I Shot Jesse James (1949)

I Shot Jesse JamesI_Shot_Jesse_James_FilmPoster
Directed by Samuel Fuller
Written by Samuel Fuller from an article by Homer Croy
1949/USA
Lippert Pictures
First viewing/Hulu Plus

 

Harry Kane: Gold is nothing but that last corruption of degenerate man. But to be a little corrupt for the sake of art, that I wouldn’t mind.

Sam Fuller’s directorial debut is a solid piece of work although lacking the off-kilter edge that would later distinguish him.

Robert Ford (John Ireland) is hiding out with bosom buddy Jesse James at the farm where James is holed up incognito.  Ford has been in love with Cynthy since childhood and the stage singer loves him too.  He pines to marry her and to stop living as a wanted fugitive.  When he hears about the reward and amnesty the Governor is offering for the capture of Jesse James, Ford has his way out.  After a couple of instances of cold feet about killing the man who treats him like a brother, Ford shoots James in the back.

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He shows up to tell Cynthy the good news but she is appalled.  She tells him off for his treachery.  But now she is afraid of him.  She is also being courted by silver-prospector Kelley (Preston Foster).

When Ford goes to collect the $10,000 reward money, he is given only $500 dollars since the reward was for the apprehension and conviction of James, not his murder.  He is treated with contempt wherever he goes and would-be gun-slingers are all looking for an opportunity to shoot him down.  So he takes off for Colorado where there is a silver boom and tells Cynthy he will send for her if he strikes it rich.  Kelley has already headed off in the same direction …  With J. Edward Bromberg as the manager of the company in which Cynthy works.

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This is nothing special but well-done and pleasant enough.  There are some nice touches and Fuller showed some obvious talent right out of the box.

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