The True Story of Jesse James
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The True Story of Jesse James
Actually, this retelling of the life of outlaw Jesse James is only as true as its predecessor, the highly fanciful 1939 Tyrone Power-Henry Fonda starrer Jesse James. Generous chunks of stock footage from the earlier film are reused here, albeit reframed to accommodate the CinemaScope process. Robert Wagner makes an interesting James, though he is upstaged throughout by Jeffrey Hunter as his brother Frank. Adhering to the Canon, the film insists that the James boys were forced into a life of crime by greedy railroad men -- hence, their ongoing vendetta against trains. Director Nicholas Ray adds… More
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 86%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"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."
‑ Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader
"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."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"Ray's pacing builds some good excitement, and as a western alone the film works nicely. But there are deeper things going on, some not entirely and successfully worked out."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"Ray is one of the great natural filmmakers, a master of moral ambiguity and jittery mise-en-scene."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"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."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"A fine Western, the only regret being Robert Wagner. Imagining Dean in the central role makes it one of the great might-have-beens."
‑ , Time Out
"Obviously the pair have a hard act to follow, but they manage it perfectly well, with Hunter particularly good in the brotherly sidekick role."
‑ , Film4
More reviews for The True Story of Jesse James on Rotten Tomatoes