The True Story of Jesse James

Critics Consensus

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86%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 7

35%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 314

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Movie Info

Having fought with the Confederacy during the Civil War, Jesse James (Robert Wagner) and his brother Frank (Jeffrey Hunter) dream of a farm life in Missouri. Harassed by Union sympathizers, they assemble a gang of outlaws, robbing trains and becoming folk heroes in the process. Jesse marries his sweetheart, Zee (Hope Lange), and maintains an aura of domesticity, but after a group of lawmen launch an attack on his mother's house, Jesse plans one more great raid -- on a Minnesota bank.

Cast & Crew

Robert Wagner
Jesse James
Hope Lange
Zee James
Alan Hale Jr.
Cole Younger
Alan Baxter
Barney Remington
John Carradine
Rev. Jethro Bailey
Walter Newman
Screenwriter
Leigh Harline
Original Music
Joseph MacDonald
Cinematographer
Robert L. Simpson
Film Editor
Addison Hehr
Art Director
Lyle R. Wheeler
Art Director
Stuart A. Reiss
Set Decoration
Walter M. Scott
Set Decoration
Show all Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for The True Story of Jesse James

All Critics (7) | Top Critics (4) | Fresh (6) | Rotten (1)

  • 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.

    October 23, 2007 | Full Review…
  • Ray is one of the great natural filmmakers, a master of moral ambiguity and jittery mise-en-scene.

    October 23, 2007 | Full Review…
  • A fine Western, the only regret being Robert Wagner. Imagining Dean in the central role makes it one of the great might-have-beens.

    October 23, 2007 | Full Review…
    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • On celluloid Jesse James has had more lives than a cat, and The True Story of Jesse James suggests it's time screenwriters let him roll over and play dead for real and reel.

    October 23, 2007 | Full Review…

    Variety Staff

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • One of Nicholas Ray's weaker films, this mythical Western displays his thematic concern with protagonists that are outsiders but suffers from the performances of pretty boys Robert Wagner and Jeffrey Hunter.

    August 30, 2009 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
  • Obviously the pair have a hard act to follow, but they manage it perfectly well, with Hunter particularly good in the brotherly sidekick role.

    October 23, 2007 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The True Story of Jesse James

  • Jun 30, 2008
    Average western with a haircut performance by Robert Wagner and a rather bland one by Jeffrey Hunter. Even the usually excellent Hope Lange and Agnes Moorehead are given very little to work with here.
    jay n Super Reviewer
  • Feb 29, 2008
    The performances and direction feel totally phoned in. The few nice moments it does have are outweighed by a really lack luster effort.
    Ken S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 04, 2007
    A remake of Henry King's "Jesse James" which introduces the Younger Brothers, ups Jesse's Robin Hood-like philanthropy and blames treacherous Yankees, rather than the railroad, for turning a good man into an outlaw. Some scenes are almost identical to the earlier film but the narrative is told in flashbacks this time around. John Carradine, who originally played Robert Ford, returns as a preacher in this, Nicholas Ray's version. Despite wooden acting throughout, this is a solid, good-looking western. I especially liked the idea of the souvenir-hunters taking trophies from the 'Howard' home after Jesse's death.
    Stephen M Super Reviewer

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