(aka 'Jesse James' or 'The James Brothers')
Nick Ray takes the Jesse James legend and turns it around his own feelings of disenchantment. Freely adapting the original (1939) Nunnally Johnson script (which initiated the long line of motifs still recognisable in The Long Riders), he transmutes Jesse into one of his familiar outsiders ('the spokesman for everyone whose life is quietly desperate'): an adolescent who turns to outlawry from a disaffection with adult values, rather than Civil War rivalries. This outlaw, like James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause, entertains dreams of the good life (along the lines of teen-dream romance), but it's never more than a gesture of hope in a surrounding gone rotten. A fine Western, the only regret being Robert Wagner. Imagining Dean in the central role makes it one of the great might-have-beens.
Wagner and Hunter take over where Fonda and Power left off in the 1939 version of this oft-told tale, which shows the circumstances that drove James and his sibling to a life of crime. Obviously the pair have a hard act to follow, but they manage it perfectly well, with Hunter particularly good in the brotherly sidekick role.
No more true than the others, but a better story than most. Nicholas Ray directed this 1957 feature as an extension of his Rebel Without a Cause, with Robert Wagner as an alienated Jesse wandering the American wasteland. Ray is one of the great natural filmmakers, a master of moral ambiguity and jittery mise-en-scene.
Theatrical Release: February 22nd, 1957
DVD Review: 20th Century Fox - Region 1 - NTSC
|DVD Box Cover||
CLICK to order from:
|Distribution||20th Century Fox Home Video - Region 1 - NTSC|
Average Bitrate: 5.49 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s
NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.
|Audio||English (Dolby Digital 2.0), DUBs: French (Dolby Digital mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital mono)|
|Subtitles||English, Spanish, None|
News: "Westerner Claims He Is Jesse James!"
• 6 page liner notes
Very impressive transfer from Fox considering this is a single-layered DVD. Progressive and anamorphic in the original 2.35 ratio - the image is clean, tight to the frame and has excellent detail. Colors look very strong as well however my only complaint is some minor color shifts and contrast flickering when moving between scenes. For most this will be a non-issue. The image is fairly artefact-free. The stereo audio was clear and there are optional English or Spanish subtitles.
No real extras - a 45 second MovieTone newsreel, a trailer and some Fox Flix adverts. There is a short essay by Tom Weaver in the liner notes.
This is a solid western - Hunter is always great and, I'll have to agree, that Wagner is the weak link with his pretty-boy good looks bringing detriment believability to the part. The film has some 'Nicholas Ray' in it but I value it more as a straight western. Recommended!