The True Story of Jesse James

Though hardly Nicholas Ray's sturdiest effort, this 1957 'Scope western began as one of his more ambitious conceptions, with an unorthodox narrative structure and deliberately theatrical sets. Both ideas were rejected by 20th-Century Fox in favor of genre conventions, and the experience helped to precipitate Ray's departure for Europe (he left even before the editing was completed, to embark on the much superior Bitter Victory). Ray's special feeling for young mavericks—in this case Frank and Jesse James (Jeffrey Hunter and Robert Wagner)—is still apparent, and one brief sequence offers a brilliantly compact lesson in anarchist economics. With Hope Lange, Agnes Moorehead, and John Carradine; the script is mainly by Walter Newman. 92 min.

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