After the tragic war between the states, America turned to the winning of the West. The symbol of this era was the building of the trans-continental railroads.The advance of the railroads was, in some cases, predatory and unscrupulous. Whole communities found themselves victimized by an ever-growing ogre — the Iron Horse.It was this uncertain and lawless age that gave the world, for good or ill, its most famous outlaws, the brothersFrank and Jesse James.
The first film on the notorious James brothers that attempted historical authenticity led to dozens more on the subject. It sets out, in a rather sprawling manner, to prove that the outlaws were wronged. According to this version, they were defenders of a rural Southern Arcadia against Northern capitalism, represented by banks and railways, becoming outlaws only after killing the man trying to force their mother off their land. There is some splendid Technicolor photography, and Power’s and Fonda’s performances as Jesse and Frank, and Scott as the sheriff, are superb. — Gary Tooze
A very enjoyable film that moves along well and has a surprisingly bleak view of the price of the outlaw life. — Andrew Allen