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I Shot Jesse James

I Shot Jesse James(1949)

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The working title of this film was I Killed Jesse James. The title of the work on which the film was based has not been determined, but contemporary sources indicate that it was adapted from an American Weekly magazine story by Homer Croy. Croy wrote two stories about Jesse James that appeared in American Weekly, "Jesse James May Never Die" (14 November 1948) and "Jesse James's Love Story" (19 June 1949). Croy also wrote a biography about James in 1949, entitled Jesse James Was My Neighbor, which some modern publications list as the picture's source. The film's onscreen credits are presented as a series of wanted posters on which the production credits and pictures of the actors are presented. The camera then pans from poster to poster. Casting director Yolanda Molinari's name was misspelled as "Yolondo" in the onscreen credits. A November 1948 Los Angeles Times news item notes that Lawrence Tierney was originally considered for the role of "Bob Ford," but was vetoed by executive producer Robert Lippert. A pre-production studio cast list indicates that Ann Doran was originally cast as "Mrs. Zee James." Although onscreen credits list Alfred and Katharine Glasser as composers of the film's song "The Man Who Shot Jesse James," others sources list Billy Gashade as the originator of that tune. I Shot Jesse James marked writer Sam Fuller's directorial debut. In a January 1949 New York Times article, Lippert stated that he "gave [Fuller] the chance [to direct], but I couldn't have if the story cost was fabulous or if I was paying a star $1,000 for standing around." Modern sources also list Fuller as producer. The Variety commented that Fuller had capably staged the physical clashes, but was not quite as adept at handling the character study motivation. Modern sources add Gene Collins and Chuck Roberson to the cast. For additional information on the James gang and the films featuring them as characters, please see Jesse James and The Return of Frank James in AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2212 and F3.3703.