Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Reel People: Brad Pitt is Jesse James

The movie is The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. The movie is written and directed by Andrew Dominik, based on a book by Ron Hansen.

Jesse James was a famous American outlaw. He was in 1847 in Clay County, Missouri. His father, a baptist minister died when James was three out looking for gold in California. When Jesse James was 16 he join a guerilla group that terrorized anti-slavery and pro-union families. James was involved in Battle of Lawrence (also known as Lawrence Massacre or Quantrill's Raid), in an event that killed almost 200 people in Lawrence, Kansas.

After the civil war, James was shot by a union man, and his first cousin Zee nursed him back to health, he later married Zee and had four children with her. With Missouri in unrest following Union control, James and others began to lead a bandit life. By 1868, Jesse James and his brother Frank James had joined Cole Younger, forming what became known as the James-Younger gang. Jesse James first made the press in when he killed the bank cashier at Daviess County Savings Association in Gallatin, Missouri. From this point on, a relationship began with Kansas City Times editor James Newman Edwards, who would publish James' letters in an attempt to bring confederate power back in the time of reconstruction. With Edwards help, James began to become the most popular outlaw.

Many robbers happened in Kansas, Texas, Iowa and all across America by the James-Younger gang. But an unsuccessful robbert in Minnesota broke up the group in 1876, when one of the bankers stalled the group and refused to open the safe. This delay caused many in the gang to be killed by citizens of the town. Jesse James returned to Missouri, while Frank went to safer territory in Virginia.

In the recreation a new gang Jesse James recruited brother Robert and Charley Ford. The Ford brothers were actually set up by the government, namely Missouri governor Thomas T. Crittenden to help bring Jesse James in. The Ford's moved into Jesse James' house to protect him, and one day, unsuspectingly Robert Ford shot Jesse James in the back of the head.

Jesse James' mother selected James' epitaph which says, "In Loving Memory of my Beloved Son, Murdered by a Traitor and Coward Whose Name is not Worthy to Appear Here."

The upcoming film stars Mary-Louise Parker as James cousin/wife Zee. Sam Shephard plays brother Frank James. Robert Ford is played by Casey Affleck, and Charley Ford is played by Sam Rockwell.

Will this biographical film earn Academy nominated actor Pitt some critical awards attention this year for his portrayal of this Real (Reel) Person?

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Anonymous said...

I think It just might! Pitt is mostly known as a Hollywood heartthrob but he has some serious talent and hopefully we'll see more of it this year and with pending projects!

Will said...

Although it's risky to say such a thing on a film blog, I think Pitt doesn't often take the opportunity to show off his acting chops. And I think he has them.
He was great in 12 Monkeys and in Babel and played pretty wonderful characters in Se7en, Fight Club, Snatch and Meet Joe Black. I've been waiting for him to take on something that can show his range. Don't know if this is the film to do it, but we'll see...

Heather said...

Actually, I think Sam Rockwell is playing Charley Ford. :)

Nadine said...

Interesting review and very though. Thanks for stopping by my blog today.

RC said...

good editing mom e-mailed me with the same error.

you're right sam shephard is not playing two characters..that would be a completly different film.

it has been corrected! whew!

Art said...

I haven't heard of this. It sounds interesting though.

Paula said...

Wow, Jesse James sounds like a real jerk! Terrorizing anti-slavery and pro-union families, eh? And everybody loved him down South?


Terence Towles Canote said...

This sounds promising. Finally, a Missourian is playing Jesse James.

And to respond to Paula, I might point out that the Union had their share of guerrilla fighters as well. The ones from Kansas were called "Jayhawkers." Indeed, James Henry Lane, probably the most famous Jayhawker of them all, led a massacre of Osceola, Kansas, among his other raids. That's not to mention what legitimate Union troops sometimes did. There were atrocities on both sides of the War, with both Northern and Southern fighters doing things we would find unthinkable today.

As to why Jesse James is still regarded as a hero in much of Missouri, he was viewed as a defender against the oppression of the Radical Republicans by many (and still is).

Magnus said...

That still, is Jesse James someone who ought to be lionized?