i’ve now seen three movies about jesse james. or rather, three films with jesse james in the title: 1) that boring “historical-drama” with the young(er) afflack (i’m not even gonna search for the name of that movie, but i’m sure you know, dear reader, what i’m talking about), 2) the b-movie, western/horror classic, jesse james meets frankenstein’s granddaughter and 3) sam fuller’s first movie, i shot jesse james. jesse james meets frankenstein’s granddaughter is by far the best of the bunch. and guess what? you can watch it or download it for free here.
on that page, there is an interesting review of the film by someone named human:
This is, without a doubt, the absolute worst movie I’ve ever seen. It’s so unbelievably bad I wish I could get a refund on the minutes of my life I squandered watching it. Zero stars for this turd on celluloid is actually overkill. If this were a just universe, it would give stars back!
if you state that your name is human, doesn’t it seem like you are trying to hard to be recognized as a human? especially if the name is attached to some characters on the internet. in other words, i doubt human is actually a human. but i am interested in the economy described. so, it seems like human thinks time is money since he feels like he should be reimbursed for wasted time. but not reimbursed with money, rather with stars. and i think the just universe is an reference to (the non-existence of) the invisible hand of the (free?) market.
but back to sam fuller’s i shot jesse james. while jesse james has his name in the title, the movie (like the boring jesse james movie from a couple of years ago) is actually about the i — robert ford — who shot jesse james.
so jesse james is one of a number of ex-confederate soldiers who becomes an outlaw, start robbing banks and, in general, tries to stick to the union. while he was somewhat popular during the reconstruction period, he’s now more famous than ever. so why did he become a folk-hero while others in a similar position are forgotten (like tears in a rainstorm, as some androids have been known to say)? the simple answer is that robert ford, one of his own gang-members, killed him. he needed to die to be able to live on in the future.
in some ways, we can see robert ford occupying the same position as judas. jesus needed to die (to be resurrected) and the only way he could die is if someone close to him betrayed him. without judas and his betrayal, their is no messiah. yet judas is known, like robert ford, as a coward and a traitor.
fuller’s film seems to hint at this connection. jesse james buys ford that gun that ends up killing him. then there are numerous scenes where you get the feeling that jesse james is ready to die — he’s tired of living on the run and doesn’t know how many more successful bank-robberies he can pull off. time and again, he leaves himself unprotected in ford’s presence. after a few close calls where ford can’t bring himself to pull the trigger, he finally shoots james in the back of the head while he’s hanging a picture.
it’s my view that we should be more thankful for robert ford. if he wouldn’t have shot jesse james in the back, jesse james meets frankenstein’s granddaughter never would have been made and all we’d be left with is billy the kid versus dracula (a movie i’m sure even human would find to so much worse that jesse james meets frankenstein’s granddaughter).