Hell's Crossroads (1957)

73 mins | Western | 8 March 1957

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HISTORY

While most of Hell's Crossroads is fictional, it does depict the true events surrounding the death of Jesse James. James died in 1882 from a gunshot to the back by Bob Ford, who was then pardoned by Missouri governor Tom Crittenden. Ten years later, Ford was killed during a barfight in Colorado.
       Although he had been an extra in Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 production of The Ten Commandments (see below), actor Robert Vaughn made his acting debut in Hell's Crossroads . For more information on the many other films about Jesse James, please consult the entry for the 1939 Twentieth Century-Fox film entitled Jesse James in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ... More Less

While most of Hell's Crossroads is fictional, it does depict the true events surrounding the death of Jesse James. James died in 1882 from a gunshot to the back by Bob Ford, who was then pardoned by Missouri governor Tom Crittenden. Ten years later, Ford was killed during a barfight in Colorado.
       Although he had been an extra in Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 production of The Ten Commandments (see below), actor Robert Vaughn made his acting debut in Hell's Crossroads . For more information on the many other films about Jesse James, please consult the entry for the 1939 Twentieth Century-Fox film entitled Jesse James in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 . More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
16 May 57
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Sep 1956
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
14 Sep 1956
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 1956
p. 12.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
30 Mar 57
p. 322.
Variety
22 May 57
p. 6.
DETAILS
Release Date:
8 March 1957
Production Date:
early September--mid September 1956
Copyright Claimant:
Republic Pictures Corp.
Copyright Date:
20 February 1957
Copyright Number:
LP8337
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound Recording
Black and White
Widescreen/ratio
Naturama
Duration(in mins):
73
Length(in reels):
7
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
18303
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In the hills of Muncie, Indiana, Jesse James instructs his gang, including his brother Frank, Cole Younger, Victor Rodell and Bob Ford, on how to approach the town express office in order to rob it. Their plan is working perfectly when a shop owner spots them and alerts the other townsmen, who are all attending church. As the gang tries to ride off, the townsmen ambush them, and although they manage to escape, Vic is shot in the leg. Jesse rescues his old friend and later, while hiding out on the trail, bandages Vic’s leg and instructs him to convalesce at Bob’s family home in Rayville, Missouri. Vic is reluctant to comply because years earlier he and Bob’s sister Paula fell in love, but were forcibly separated by Paula’s father Clay, who denounced Vic as a shiftless cowboy. With no other choice, however, Bob and Vic visit the Ford farm, where Paula welcomes them graciously, but Clay is infuriated to have a known member of the James gang at his home. When Bob reveals that he, too, is a gang member, Clay is forced to hide Vic in order to protect his son, who leaves for the border to procure fresh horses, planning to return in a few weeks. During those weeks, Vic and Paula fall in love once again, despite the fact that her late husband was murdered by Jesse during a bank robbery. Vic explains to her that he originally left her at Clay’s bidding in order to make enough money to marry her, but upon hearing about her marriage, joined the James gang. After Vic has healed, he tells Paula that he has decided to turn ... +


In the hills of Muncie, Indiana, Jesse James instructs his gang, including his brother Frank, Cole Younger, Victor Rodell and Bob Ford, on how to approach the town express office in order to rob it. Their plan is working perfectly when a shop owner spots them and alerts the other townsmen, who are all attending church. As the gang tries to ride off, the townsmen ambush them, and although they manage to escape, Vic is shot in the leg. Jesse rescues his old friend and later, while hiding out on the trail, bandages Vic’s leg and instructs him to convalesce at Bob’s family home in Rayville, Missouri. Vic is reluctant to comply because years earlier he and Bob’s sister Paula fell in love, but were forcibly separated by Paula’s father Clay, who denounced Vic as a shiftless cowboy. With no other choice, however, Bob and Vic visit the Ford farm, where Paula welcomes them graciously, but Clay is infuriated to have a known member of the James gang at his home. When Bob reveals that he, too, is a gang member, Clay is forced to hide Vic in order to protect his son, who leaves for the border to procure fresh horses, planning to return in a few weeks. During those weeks, Vic and Paula fall in love once again, despite the fact that her late husband was murdered by Jesse during a bank robbery. Vic explains to her that he originally left her at Clay’s bidding in order to make enough money to marry her, but upon hearing about her marriage, joined the James gang. After Vic has healed, he tells Paula that he has decided to turn himself in, thus earning clemency from Missouri governor Crittenden, and she joyfully agrees to wait for him while he serves a few years in jail. Meanwhile, Pinkerton detective Clyde O’Connell arrives in Rayville looking for Bob, who has just been identified as a gang member, and asks Sheriff Steve Oliver to accompany him to the Fords' home. On the way, they pass Clay, who tells them that the last he heard, Bob was in Kansas. When they reach the farm, however, Paula says Bob was last in Kentucky, and the lawmen suspect that something is amiss. Just then, Bob shows up in the distance with an extra horse, and the lawmen grab Paula and hide in wait. Vic has been watching from inside and now sneaks into the hills to warn Bob, who sees him and flees. The lawmen follow Bob and apprehend him, and although Vic wants to rush to his friend’s aid, Paula convinces him that he can help more with Crittenden on his side. In town, a lynch mob forms around Bob as Oliver leads him to the jail and Clay, afraid for his son’s life, begs Vic to enlist the Jameses to free Bob. Promising to meet Paula in the capital, Jefferson City, Vic rides day and night to Jesse’s house, where he lives under an assumed name with his wife and children. Jesse quickly assembles the gang and they reach Rayville just as the mob is about to hang Bob. After rescuing him, they disband, and Vic hides out in "Jeff City." There, Paula solicits the governor for leniency, but he replies that the recently drafted Outlaw Amnesty Act has been terminated, so he cannot show mercy to known criminals. He does, however, offer clemency in return for the capture of Jesse, dead or alive. Paula goes to Vic to inform him, not knowing that O’Connell is following her. Vic refuses to turn in his friend, after which O’Connell bursts in, but Vic overpowers him and flees. He heads to the Jameses’ hideout, where he informs the brothers that he is going straight, but must go into hiding and await the Amnesty Act’s revival. While Vic is away, Paula brings Bob to Crittenden, and although Bob promises Paula that he will bring in Jesse alive, he admits to the governor that he plans to kill the outlaw when he goes home for Christmas. That winter, Bob is welcomed into the James home, only to shoot Jesse in the back as he trims the family Christmas tree. After Vic reads in the newspaper that Paula struck a deal with Crittenden, he rides to the farm to berate her for putting his life in more danger, as now the remaining gang members will be gunning for him. As he leaves, he meets Clay on the road, and the two are ambushed by Frank and Cole. They let Clay go, after which he races home to procure a weapon. Just as Clay gets to the farm, Bob shows up, but refuses to help Vic. Telling his son never to return, Clay goes to help Vic, but along the way is heartened when Bob joins him. Vic is surrounded and has been shot, but Bob kills one of the gang members just as Oliver and O’Connell arrive and help finish off the gang. Later, Vic revives at the farm, and Paula tells him that with the gang destroyed, he and Bob have received pardons. As Vic turns to Paula, Clay takes Vic’s revolver, which he will no longer need. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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