ALIAS JESSE JAMES (director: Norman Z. McLeod; screenwriters: William Bowers/Daniel B. Beauchamps/story by Robert St. Aubrey and Bert Lawrence; cinematographer: Lionel Lindon; editors: Jack Bachom/Marvin Coil; music: William D. Dunham; cast: Bob Hope (Milford Farnsworth), Rhonda Fleming (Cora Lee Collins), Wendell Corey (Jesse James), Gloria Talbott (Princess Irawanie), Jim Davis (Frank James), Will Wright (Titus Queasley), Mary Young (‘Ma’ James); Runtime: 92; MPAA Rating: NR; producers: Bob Hope/Jack Hope; United Artists; 1959)
“A typical bumbling cowardly but heroic Bob Hope comedy, that’s strictly for his fans who enjoy his pratfalls and the motor mouth’s lame one-liners.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

A typical bumbling cowardly but heroic Bob Hope comedy, that’s strictly for his fans who enjoy his pratfalls and the motor mouth’s lame one-liners. The silly Western spoof is directed by Norman Z. McLeod (“Horse Feathers”/ “Monkey Business”/”The Paleface”) and the story is by Robert St. Aubrey and Bert Lawrence, with the screenplay by William Bowers and Daniel B. Beauchamps.

In the late 1880s Milford Farnsworth (Bob Hope) is the inept door-to-door insurance salesman for the Plymouth Rock Insurance Company of New York who unwittingly sells a $100,000 policy to Jesse James (Wendell Corey) while he’s visiting a bar in NYC. The company president, Titus Queasley (Will Wright), sends Milford with the cash to Jesse’s hometown of Angels Rest, Missouri, to get him to cancel the policy on the high-risk client before his death breaks the company and if he doesn’t get Jesse to cancel the policy to act as his protector so he doesn’t die and thereby his saloon singer girlfriend, at the Dirty Dog Saloon, Cora Lee Collins (Rhonda Fleming), his beneficiary, won’t be able to collect.

Jesse James robs Milford on the train of the $100,000 and eventually decides to kill him after dressing him up in his same outfit so he looks like him. This way the real Jesse plans to marry Cora and collect on the policy after burying Milford in Boot Hill, who will be mistaken by the insurance people for Jesse James. It concludes with Milford running away with Jesse’s beautiful redheaded would-be bride Cora (somehow she falls for Milford) and when he misses his train, he gets into a gun duel with the James Gang in town. As Cora loads his guns, Milford thinks he’s knocking the gang off one-by-one when it’s actually a bunch of popular Hollywood and TV cowboys and cowgirls that Queasley telegraphed for help when he arrived in Angels Rest. The six gun shooters include: Hugh “Wyatt Earp” O’Brien, Ward “Major Seth Adams” Bond, James “Matt Dillon” Arness, Fess “Davy Crockett” Parker, Gail “Annie Oakley” Davis, James “Brett Maverick” Garner, and Jay “Tonto” Silverheels; and as themselves Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, Gary Cooper and Bing Crosby.


Dennis Schwartz: “Ozus’ World Movie Reviews”