(director: Ray Enright; screenwriter: from the story by Robert L. Richards/Robert L. Richards; cinematographer: Irving Glassberg; editor: Milton Carruth; music: Milton Rosen; cast: Audie Murphy (Jesse James), Brian Donlevy (Col. William Clark Quantrill), Marguerite Chapman (Kate Clarke), Scott Brady (Bill Anderson), Tony Curtis (Kit Dalton ), Richard Long (Frank James), James Best (Cole Younger), Dewey Martin (James Younger), Dave Wolfe (Rudolph Tate), Richard Arlen (Union Captain), John Kellogg (Red Leg Leader); Runtime: 80; MPAA Rating: NR; producer: Ted Richmond; Universal; 1950)
“The film is worth watching for the scene of the sacking of Lawrence and subsequent bloodbath.“
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
Routine oater helmed by Ray Enright(“The Spoilers”/”China Sky”/”South of St. Louis”). It’s based on the story byRobert L. Richards, who does the screenplay. The pic was shot in Southern Utah.
Jesse James (Audie Murphy) and brother Frank (Richard Long), Cole Younger (James Best) and brother Jim (Dewey Martin), and Kit Dalton (Tony Curtis), are adventurers who leave Missouri to avenge the death of the James’ parents by taking up with the Confederate cause and join up with the ruthless guerrilla army of Quantrill in Lawrence, Kansas, during the Civil War. The young thrill seeking men idolize Col. William Clark Quantrill (Brian Donlevy), dressed as a Confederate colonel, whose raiders kill and pillage for private gain. The 5 recruits get an early education from Quantrillon their future career as notorious bank robbers.But soon they become disillusioned with the senseless violence and looting of innocent civilians, and when goaded by Quantrill’s girl Kate (Marguerite Chapman), the boys leave Quantrill after he’s shot down in a Union raid on his hideout. Jesse and his gang go on to become legendary outlaws, and the subject of many films (interesting to note the first Jesse James portray er was his son Jesse Jr., in a silent). The boys are unconvincingly depicted as innocent dupes of a bloodthirsty madman, when the film clearly shows they went to Quantrill with their eyes wide open.
The film is worth watching for the scene of the sacking of Lawrence and subsequent bloodbath.Other reasons for watching: Murphy shows some acting chops as he goes from idolizing Quantrill to having doubts about him, but still staying loyal to him in his time of despair; the flick is appealingly fast moving; and, best of all, to catch the Bronx raised young Tony Curtis (in his sixth film) trying to ride a horse, talk with a heavy Noo Yawk accent and act like a cowboy.
REVIEWED ON 3/5/2011 GRADE: C+