Jump to content
 
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...

Did anyone else think "Jesse James" (1939) was kinda meh?


Recommended Posts

First off: *thanks for the new blood, TCM.* (even if they're not the greatest films, I'll take anything new over Gigi again.)

 

I was hoping someone else would start a thread on the double-feature last night of Jesse James (1939) and its 1940 follow-up The Return of Frank James, as I don't feel really passionately on the matter, and yet I *do* want to know;

 

 

*was anyone else seriously underwhelmed by the first film?*

 

 

(FYI: I had no interest in sticking around for the second one.)

 

 

It was intriguing to me that Jesse James is- according to various sources- AMONG THE TOP FIVE GROSSERS OF 1939, a year that did not lack for films of sterling quality. And yet- what a bore! *seriously lacking in action in the first part,* CRYING OUT DESPERATELY IN NEED OF A SCORE (in most parts), and worst of all: *terminally slow pacing*.

 

 

With most westerns, I can forgive the lack of character development, the silly dialogue, the lazy plotting, even the anachronistic costumes and hairstyles of the actresses- but *bad pacing* I *cannot forgive.*

 

 

Tyrone Power was terrific and gorgeous in technicolor, Henry Fonda looked good and was good in the *pathetically underdeveloped* and *undershown* character of Frank James, Carradine was good in a borderline walk-on role that was (AGAIN!), underdeveloped, I love Jane Darwell, although she is nearly always underused in everything (and she was, somewhat, in this as well.) Randolph Scott was a likeable presence and Donald Meek is always good, *and the technicolor was stunning*- but- MY GOD!- it was a lifeless affair, what few action scenes there were could barely be termed "action" in the loosest sense (campare it to the cheaper, less gorgeously filmed Stagecoach when it comes to "action"; or even The Hunchback of Notre Dame or Gunga Din.)

 

 

Has there ever been a more listlessly filmed train robbery in a film?

 

 

How inn-teresting that this film, directed (barely) by Henry King with its overall blandness outgrossed so many *much better* films in that year.

 

 

Jesse James: *two stars out of four.*

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on May 20, 2013 11:30 AM

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on May 20, 2013 11:34 AM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I just imdb'd the film and director Henry King.

 

Two notable things:

 

Apparently two horses were deliberately killed in the cliff-jumping scene that led to the ASPCA monitoring all film productions from then on. *So- the film was NOT completely "actionless",* but I would say *the first hour is definitely action-lite* (and so many early scenes could have been much livelier.)

 

 

Henry King was a big director for Fox, he did Song of Bernadette, Looooooooooooove is a Many Spleeeeeeeeeeeeendored Thing and 12 O'Clock High- three films which went over gangbusters with audiences and The Academy, but in retrospect ( I think it's safe to say) are nowhere near as highly regarded TODAY as they were on release.

 

 

He also directed Wilson (1944)- but be careful bringing *that* up as threads that mention that film seem to get locked and scrubbed from the board, and I would so like to hear what the rest of you have to say on the matter.

 

 

ps- I see The Return of Frank James was directed by Fritz Lang. Maybe I watched the wrong film first.

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on May 20, 2013 11:31 AM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Seen it before and still do not like it. Interesting that both Jesse James and the sequel The Return of Frank James are both in Technicolor. Tried to get into the 2nd film but didn't like that poor slob who wouldn't stay on the floor in one place getting shot and killed. Sure it was the law that got him but it never would have happened if not for Frank and Clem. After that I lost interest and turned it off. :| :|

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=AddisonDeWitless wrote:}{quote}

>

> How inn-teresting that this film, directed (barely) by Henry King with its overall blandness outgrossed so many *much better* films in that year.

> You've already put your finger on what I think are the two big reasons: a) Tyrone Power and B) gorgeous Technicolor. Ty was already a huge box office draw and this was the first opportunity for his fans to see him in color.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think I am going to end up featuring this one in the Classic Film Criticism Vol. 2. This film seems to have gotten under my skin, so to speak-- and not necessarily in a good way. There are certain elements of both films (including the sequel which also aired last night) that I think are very irresponsible in the depiction of frontier justice. And don't get me started on Tierney miscast as a newspaper woman in the second picture.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

*...and the technicolor does suit him so well.* (although it makes me wonder *all the more* why they *didn't* shoot The Mask of Zorro from *the very next year* in color- that is a film that BEGS TO BE SHOT IN COLOR. (Oddly enough, I feel like Jesse James would've been just fine in B&W- of course, with a different script and better director.)

 

Thanks to all the replies, I was thinking I was going to be inundated with people saying " Jesse James is awesome: you twit!"

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just a few comments:

 

First of all, I enjoy this pair of films (although I didn;'t see them last night). Yes the color and scenery are beautiful, and they were criticized for the liberties taken with historical facts (which film then wasn't?). The reason JESSE JAMES was such a big grosser was that Tyrone Power was at the height of his popularity then (he placed as Number 2 in the yearly exhibitors' poll for 1939, after Mickey Rooney). As such, JJ was a vehicle for Power, and was modeled somewhat on the previous year's Robin Hood success for Errol Flynn (i.e. Power becomes an outlaw to rectify injustices); this is the reason it was done in Technicolor. I've mentioned that the darkening financial outlook in 1940 caused many projects planned to be in Technicolor end up in black and white; this is what happened with THE MARK OF ZORRO. Gene Tierney made her debut in THE RETURN OF FRANK JAMES, so only in hindsight can she be considered mis-cast. Plus, she would suffer even more inappropriate roles soon enough (Ellie May in TOBACCO ROAD, her many exotic Asians, etc).

 

All in all, I like these movies.

 

Edited by: Arturo on May 20, 2013 3:28 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

>Gene Tierney made her debut in THE RETURN OF FRANK JAMES, so only in hindsight can she be considered mis-cast.

 

Let's discuss this for a bit. When I made my earlier comment-- which I maintain, without changing my opinion-- it was not based on looking at Gene Tierney in this film from the reference point of her later performances. I was not saying that she was miscast, in hindsight. I was saying that she was miscast because the role requires an actress who can tell this story from a more feminist point of view (someone like Katharine Hepburn). Even if Tierney had only made one film, I would say she's miscast. I do not think she was skilled enough to play the role as written. And I think that's why Fritz Lang was tough on her during filming, because he was trying to bring her along-- but she doesn't quite have what it needs, which is more than just a pretty face.

 

Don't get me wrong. I do like Gene Tierney in other films. But not in this one.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=GoodGuysWearBlack wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=finance wrote:}{quote}Any "B", shoot'em up Western over GIGI or THE BANDWAGON?

> Yes.

Seconded, (and heartily.)

 

And even though I didn't think Jesse James was particularly good, I'd *definitely* watch it again, whereas you'd have to strap me down and tape open me eyes Clockwork Orange style to get me to sit through Gigi.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I enjoyed both films and found them to be good entertaining westerns. Not as action packed as some, but more then made up for by the acting. Let's face it, if JESSE wasn't any good would there have been a sequel? How many A pictures had sequels? Sequels were the province of B pictures and series films.

 

Also, don't forget Jesse and Frank, at least how this film was presented, were walking a very thin line between being heroes and badguys. There couldn't be too much shoot-em up action without alot of innocent people being killed and the movie was trying to paint Jesse and Frank in a sympathetic light, that they were victims of circumstances, rather then ruthless outlaws out for greed and possessed of a killing bent.

 

If you really want to talk about boring films how about a film like HIGH NOON which has put me to sleep on numerous occassions and is listed as an essential. The only shooting in that film is at the end and by that time who gives a damn, not me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=GoodGuysWearBlack wrote:}{quote}The title sequence was meh. The theme music was kinda lame.

What theme music? As I watched the whole thing, I kept thinking "WHERE IS THE MUSIC???!!!" There were brief moments of *music cues,* but they lasted maybe 5-6 seconds.

 

Aside from that, the film as I recall it *had next to NO music, especially in the action scenes were it needed it the most!*

 

Do I remember it wrong?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=infinite1 wrote:}{quote}

>

> *If you really want to talk about boring films how about a film like HIGH NOON* ? (It) has put me to sleep on numerous occassions.

>

>

>

>

>

>

> *Oh believe me, I could.* You and I are in a distinct (but correct- if you ask me) minority of classic film lovers who dislike High Noon.

>

>

>

>

>

> ps- I hate it when the quotes eat the text.

>

>

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on May 20, 2013 7:24 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

> {quote:title=AddisonDeWitless wrote:}{quote}

> > {quote:title=GoodGuysWearBlack wrote:}{quote}The title sequence was meh. The theme music was kinda lame.

> What theme music? As I watched the whole thing, I kept thinking "WHERE IS THE MUSIC???!!!" There were brief moments of *music cues,* but they lasted maybe 5-6 seconds.

>

> Aside from that, the film as I recall it *had next to NO music, especially in the action scenes were it needed it the most!*

>

> Do I remember it wrong?

Chill....

 

I was talking about the music that played during the title sequence.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Oh believe it or not, I am chill- no worries.

 

I like to *embolden* things sometimes to make a point, which is- in this case- that the film was *sorely lacking a musical score.*

 

*SOMETIMES I EVEN USE ALL CAPS AND MULTIPLE EXCLAMATION POINTS TOO!!!!!- PROBABLY A HABIT I SHOULD BREAK!!!!!!!!!!!!!*

 

Edited by: AddisonDeWitless on May 20, 2013 7:39 PM

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

© 2022 Turner Classic Movies Inc. All Rights Reserved Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Cookie Settings
×
×
  • Create New...