Movie Renter's Guide - April, 2008



"The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford" (Blu-ray)


In post-Civil War 1860's, Jesse James, having ridden with Quantrill's Raiders as a southerner, is faced with the same things that other southerner's are suffering from, namely, greedy carpet baggers from the North who are exploiting the poverty on the losing side of the war.

He uses his experience to terrorize by robbing banks, whose major depositors are northerners investing in the South. He also robs the railroad companies, who are funded from northern investors.

Because the southerners feel the North has taken advantage of them, they sympathize with Jesse's gang, often hiding them from the law.

The railroad companies hire Robert Ford, who has worked his way into the James gang, to bring Jesse in, dead or alive.

Of course, we all know what happened, when Ford shoots Jesse in the back of the head.



  • Warner Brothers
    2007, Color, Rated R, 2 Hr 30 min
  • Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
  • 1080p
  • Codec: VC-1
  • DD 5.1
  • Directed by Andrew Dominik
  • Starring  Brad Pitt, Casey Affleck, Sam Shepard, Sam Rockwell, Mary-Louise Parker, Brooklynn Proulx, Dustin Bollinger
  • Entertainment:
  • Video:
  • Audio:
  • Extras:
  • Violence: Yes
  • Sex: No
  • Language: Mild


Unlike most previous movies about Jesse James, this one lets us all know what he really was: a psychopath who often shot people in cold blood. Also, this movie focuses on Robert Ford rather than Jesse. Affleck's portrayal of Ford is brilliant, which earned him an Oscar nomination.

Ford was called a coward for shooting Jesse in the back, but Jesse was not very brave himself. Rather, he was a paranoid killer who reveled in having his victims defenseless. When the gang tried to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, the townspeople showed the James gang what it is like when the bullets come flying back the other way. Several gang members were killed. Jesse decided to retire at that point. He didn't like it when the victims fought back. So, who was the coward after all?

I think the reason Jesse James was a folk hero, is the same reason that Bonnie and Clyde were folk heroes: in both cases, the country was in the middle of serious economic troubles. See my blog on April 15, 2008 for more detail on this.

In any event, the movie is pretty tame - action wise - compared to the average western shoot-em-up. It's more of a character study, and it is too long for a movie without much riding and shooting.


The image is very sharp, but does have noticeable edge enhancement. I am getting so used to Blu-ray, I can't stand to watch anything else.


There is a documentary on the James gang, but it is not very entertaining.