I Shot Jesse James (1949)

80-81 mins | Western | 26 February 1949

Director:

Samuel Fuller

Writer:

Samuel Fuller

Producer:

Carl K. Hittleman

Cinematographer:

Ernest Miller

Production Designer:

Frank Hotaling

Production Company:

Lippert Productions, Inc.
Full page view
HISTORY

The working title of this film was I Killed Jesse James . The title of the work on which the film was based has not been determined, but contemporary sources indicate that it was adapted from an American Weekly magazine story by Homer Croy. Croy wrote two stories about Jesse James that appeared in American Weekly , "Jesse James May Never Die" (14 Nov 1948) and "Jesse James's Love Story" (19 Jun 1949). Croy also wrote a biography about James in 1949, entitled Jesse James Was My Neighbor , which some modern publications list as the picture's source. The film's onscreen credits are presented as a series of wanted posters on which the production credits and pictures of the actors are presented. The camera then pans from poster to poster. Casting director Yolanda Molinari's name was misspelled as "Yolondo" in the onscreen credits. A Nov 1948 LAT news item notes that Lawrence Tierney was originally considered for the role of "Bob Ford," but was vetoed by executive producer Robert Lippert. A pre-production studio cast list indicates that Ann Doran was originally cast as "Mrs. Zee James." Although onscreen credits list Alfred and Katharine Glasser as composers of the film's song "The Man Who Shot Jesse James," others sources list Billy Gashade as the originator of that tune. I Shot Jesse James marked writer Sam Fuller's directorial debut. In a Jan 1949 NYT article, Lippert stated that he "gave [Fuller] the chance [to direct], but I couldn't have if the story cost was fabulous or if I was paying a star $1,000 for standing around." Modern ... More Less

The working title of this film was I Killed Jesse James . The title of the work on which the film was based has not been determined, but contemporary sources indicate that it was adapted from an American Weekly magazine story by Homer Croy. Croy wrote two stories about Jesse James that appeared in American Weekly , "Jesse James May Never Die" (14 Nov 1948) and "Jesse James's Love Story" (19 Jun 1949). Croy also wrote a biography about James in 1949, entitled Jesse James Was My Neighbor , which some modern publications list as the picture's source. The film's onscreen credits are presented as a series of wanted posters on which the production credits and pictures of the actors are presented. The camera then pans from poster to poster. Casting director Yolanda Molinari's name was misspelled as "Yolondo" in the onscreen credits. A Nov 1948 LAT news item notes that Lawrence Tierney was originally considered for the role of "Bob Ford," but was vetoed by executive producer Robert Lippert. A pre-production studio cast list indicates that Ann Doran was originally cast as "Mrs. Zee James." Although onscreen credits list Alfred and Katharine Glasser as composers of the film's song "The Man Who Shot Jesse James," others sources list Billy Gashade as the originator of that tune. I Shot Jesse James marked writer Sam Fuller's directorial debut. In a Jan 1949 NYT article, Lippert stated that he "gave [Fuller] the chance [to direct], but I couldn't have if the story cost was fabulous or if I was paying a star $1,000 for standing around." Modern sources also list Fuller as producer. The Var commented that Fuller had capably staged the physical clashes, but was not quite as adept at handling the character study motivation. Modern sources add Gene Collins and Chuck Roberson to the cast. For additional information on the James gang and the films featuring them as characters, please see Jesse James and The Return of Frank James in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.2212 and F3.3703. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
12 Feb 1949.
---
Film Daily
3 Feb 49
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
12 Nov 48
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 48
p. 14.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Jan 49
p. 3.
Los Angeles Times
11 Nov 1948.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
5 Feb 49
p. 4485.
New York Times
30 Jan 1949.
---
New York Times
2 Apr 49
p. 12.
Variety
2 Feb 49
p. 12.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCERS
Exec prod
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
Stills
ART DIRECTOR
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Supv film ed
SET DECORATORS
Set dec
COSTUMES
MUSIC
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
MAKEUP
Makeup
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Dial coach
Scr clerk
Asst to prod
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by a short story by Homer Croy in American Weekly .
AUTHOR
SONGS
"Beautiful Dreamer," music and lyrics by Stephen Foster
"The Ballad of Jesse James," music by Alfred Glasser, lyrics by Katharine Glasser.
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
I Killed Jesse James
Release Date:
26 February 1949
Copyright Claimant:
Lippert Productions, Inc.
Copyright Date:
11 February 1949
Copyright Number:
LP2212
Physical Properties:
Sound
RCA Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
80-81
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
13535
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

The James gang, led by the notorious outlaw Jesse James, is in the midst of robbing a bank when the teller sounds an alarm, sending the outlaws scurrying amid a flurry of gunfire. After Bob Ford, a member of the gang, is wounded in the crossfire, Jesse treats his injuries and takes him to recuperate at his home in St. Joseph, Missouri, where Jesse lives under the alias of Tom Howard. Six months later, Bob is still living at the James house, prompting Jesse's wife Zee, who distrusts both Bob and his brother Charlie, to voice her fears to her husband. When Bob discovers that his longtime sweetheart, actress Cynthy Waters, is appearing in St. Joseph, he hurries to town to see her. Cynthy is engaged in coversation with an admirer, prospector John Kelley, when Bob interrupts them, causing Kelley to leave. Knowing that Cynthy longs to marry and settle down to an honest farm life, Bob promises to leave the James gang and go straight. Upon returning to Jesse's house, Bob learns from Charlie that the governor has offered a $10,000 reward and amnesty to anyone turning in Jesse. Recognizing the governor's offer as a path to a new life with Cynthy, Bob determines to betray his friend. When Jesse presents Bob with a pearl-handled pistol as a gift, Bob aims it at Jesse's back, but guilt-ridden, is unable to pull the trigger. One day, while alone with Bob, Jesse voices his dream of leading a peaceful life. When Jesse turns around to straighten a painting, Bob aims his pistol and fires, shooting him in the back. Sentenced to hang for Jesse's ... +


The James gang, led by the notorious outlaw Jesse James, is in the midst of robbing a bank when the teller sounds an alarm, sending the outlaws scurrying amid a flurry of gunfire. After Bob Ford, a member of the gang, is wounded in the crossfire, Jesse treats his injuries and takes him to recuperate at his home in St. Joseph, Missouri, where Jesse lives under the alias of Tom Howard. Six months later, Bob is still living at the James house, prompting Jesse's wife Zee, who distrusts both Bob and his brother Charlie, to voice her fears to her husband. When Bob discovers that his longtime sweetheart, actress Cynthy Waters, is appearing in St. Joseph, he hurries to town to see her. Cynthy is engaged in coversation with an admirer, prospector John Kelley, when Bob interrupts them, causing Kelley to leave. Knowing that Cynthy longs to marry and settle down to an honest farm life, Bob promises to leave the James gang and go straight. Upon returning to Jesse's house, Bob learns from Charlie that the governor has offered a $10,000 reward and amnesty to anyone turning in Jesse. Recognizing the governor's offer as a path to a new life with Cynthy, Bob determines to betray his friend. When Jesse presents Bob with a pearl-handled pistol as a gift, Bob aims it at Jesse's back, but guilt-ridden, is unable to pull the trigger. One day, while alone with Bob, Jesse voices his dream of leading a peaceful life. When Jesse turns around to straighten a painting, Bob aims his pistol and fires, shooting him in the back. Sentenced to hang for Jesse's murder, Bob is pardoned by the governor and awarded the paltry sum of $500 for his heinous act. With his reward, Bob buys an engagement ring and hurries to present it to Cynthy. When Cynthy, repulsed by Bob's betrayal, refuses the ring, Bob accuses her of being in love with Kelley. Fearing for Kelley's life, Cynthy begs him to leave town, and to placate her, he packs his bags and flees. Afterward, Bob apologizes to Cynthy and informs her that Harry Kane, her manager, has hired him to reenact the killing of Jesse James on stage. In his theatrical debut, Bob freezes, unable to pull the trigger, and is booed off stage, humiliated. Retreating to the saloon, Bob is further shamed when a wandering minstrel serenades him with a ballad detailing his cowardly deed. Seeking refuge on a deserted street, Bob finds himself the target of a young boy trying to make a name for himself by killing the "man who shot Jesse James." Now a magnet for every would-be-gunfighter, Bob leaves the territory to mine a silver strike in Colorado. In the town of Creede, he meets Kelley again when the two are forced to share a hotel room. Well liked by the townsfolk, Kelley is offered the job of marshal but turns it down to continue prospecting. That night, during a saloon fight, Bob prevents a thug from gunning down Soapy, an unarmed drunken prospector. The next morning, Bob awakens to find both Kelley and Cynthy's ring missing and assumes that Kelley robbed him. In gratitude, Soapy makes Bob his partner, and some time later, Cynthy receives a telegram from Bob, notifying her that he has struck silver and wants her to join him in Creede. With trepidation, Cynthy journeys to Creede, accompanied by Kane. As Bob and Cynthy talk, Kelley bursts into the room to turn over the thief who stole Bob's ring and is surprised to find Cynthy there. Unaware that Cynthy has come to end their relationship, Bob gives her the ring, and Cynthy, afraid of angering him, accepts it. Now broke, Kelley takes the job of marshal. Soon after, Kelley visits Cynthy and she admits that she no longer loves Bob. Overhearing their conversation, Frank James, Jesse's brother, strides into the room, but Kelley overpowers and arrests him. Freed because he is not a wanted man in Colorado, Frank seeks out Bob and vengefully informs him that Cynthy is in love with Kelley. Insane with jealousy, Bob goes gunning for Kelley. Coolly walking out to the street, Kelley turns his back to Bob, then swirls around, rifle in hand and tries to reason with him. Unwilling to listen, Bob fires at Kelley, and Kelley retaliates with a blast from his rifle. Bob dies in Cynthy's arms, voicing remorse for his betrayal of Jesse. +

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

TOP SEARCHES

CASABLANCA

During World War II, Casablanca, Morocco is a waiting point for throngs of desperate refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe. Exit visas, which are necessary to leave the country, are at ... >>

CITIZEN KANE

Seventy-year-old newspaper tycoon Charles Foster Kane dies in his palatial Florida home, Xanadu, after uttering the single word “Rosebud.” While watching a newsreel summarizing the years during which Kane ... >>

REAR WINDOW

Laid up with a broken leg during the height of summer, renowned New York magazine photographer L. B. “Jeff” Jeffries enters his last week of home confinement, bored and ... >>

RAGING BULL

In 1941, at a boxing match in Cleveland, Ohio, pandemonium breaks out when Jake La Motta, an up-and-coming young boxer, loses a decision to Jimmy Reeves, suffering his first ... >>

CITY LIGHTS

At an outdoor dedication ceremony, a tramp is discovered sleeping in the arms of a statue as it is being unveiled before a crowd. He is chased into ... >>

The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.