Cast & Crew
Loner Joe Branch rides into the town of Coffeyville, Kansas as a lynch mob drags Kate Manning from jail and Father Kerrigan watches helplessly. Joe rescues Kate and takes her safely outside town, where she explains that she is accused of murdering the son of wealthy Corey Bayliss, but claims her action was self-defense. Joe reveals that he came to Coffeyville in search of her, because a friend of his knew her father, who years earlier rode with the Jesse James gang. Kate says her father, now dead, served time for his association with the James gang and lived quietly afterward. Joe confides that he has been plagued by rumors that he is the son of Jesse James and is determined to discover the truth. Since Kate knew Jesse when she was a child, Joe asks her to help him learn whether Jesse might still be alive and to unearth the $100,000 from one of his last holdups. When Kate protests that she was too young to remember much about Jesse, Joe reminds her that the Daltons, another gang who rode with Jesse, still remain active and mention of the James money might bring them out of hiding. Dubious but grateful to Joe for her rescue, Kate agrees to help. Joe and Kate follow the exploits of the Daltons but are unable to contact them until one day they inadvertently get information about an Army payroll delivery by train. Certain that the Daltons will ambush the train, Joe robs it first, then, with the help of Father Kerrigan, turns the money over to the head of the railroad, Hall Rutherford. Joe asks Rutherford to publicize the theft and post wanted signs of him to convince the Daltons that he is an outlaw. Persuaded by Father Kerrigan, Rutherford agrees. Bob and Grat Dalton and their gang read about Joe, described in newspapers as the son of Jesse James, and his "successful" robbery and go in search of him. In Bartlesville, Joe intentionally flashes large sums of money that inevitably lead the Daltons to him. Joe surprises the brothers at his hotel room, then offers to split the payroll robbery money with them. Grat, angry over being trapped, wants to fight, but the cooler-headed Bob prevails and agrees to take Joe back to their hideout. Joe introduces Kate to the Daltons as his wife. At their hideout, he informs the gang that if they help him find Jesse and the $100,000, he will split the money with them. They agree to send one of their men ahead to Jesse's surviving brother Frank with a message from Kate, whose name he should recognize. Meanwhile the gang rides to the James gang's old cabin hideout, which remains deserted. While waiting, Grat attacks Kate until Joe intervenes. Only Kate's pleas stop Joe from killing Grat. The following day a lone rider arrives and, to the gang's surprise, reveals himself as Bob Ford, Jesse's murderer who has been sent ahead by Frank. When Joe asks about the money, Ford admits that there was a large robbery and promptly uncovers a dusty satchel hidden under a mattress. Inside is a wad of worthless Confederate bills, stolen when Jesse rode with the infamous Quantrill Raiders. Outraged, Grat knocks out Ford, then Bob stuns Joe, and Grat demands they return to their original plan of holding up both Coffeyville banks. Bob insists they do not have enough men for the job, so Grat seizes Kate and, as she knows Coffeyville very well, forces her to help. The Daltons leave Ford and Joe bound and gagged, but when they revive, they help untie each other. Joe tells Ford about his quest to learn his identity and Ford reveals that Joe's real parents were murdered by Quantrill. Guilt-ridden, Jesse took the then-infant Joe to his friends, the Branches. Ford confesses that he understands Joe's personal struggle and confides that he carries the burden of being known as Jesse's murderer when he is certain that Jesse was not killed. Joe suspects that the Daltons will return to their plan of attacking Coffeyville and Ford offers to help. The men sneak aboard a train and arrive in town before the gang and promptly inform Father Kerrigan and the sheriff of the impending attack. The townsmen prepare, surrounding both banks. The gang arrives in town, but as they attempt their break ins, Bayliss recognizes them and his call for help starts a fierce gun battle. Bayliss is wounded and when Grat attempts to use Kate as a shield, Joe kills him. Ford kills Bob and the rest of the gang surrenders. Later, Kate and Joe inform Father Kerrigan that Bayliss has cleared Kate of wrongdoing, thus paving the way for them to marry.
Robert E. Kent
Lester H. White
Originaly a 3-D release.
Reviews indicate that this film was released in 3-D, but the print viewed was in standard format. The Dalton brothers gang operated in Oklahoma and Kansas and included Gratton Dalton (1865-1892), Robert Dalton (1870-1892), Emmett Dalton (1871-1937) and after Grat and Bob's death, Bill Dalton (1866-1895). As the film depicts, Grat and Bob Dalton were gunned down after an attempted double bank raid in Coffeyville, Kansas and Emmett was arrested. Bob Ford murdered robber and killer Jesse James for a reward. Contrary to what is portrayed in the film, Ford did not survive more than six months after Jesse's murder.
Emmett Dalton, released from prison in 1907, produced a short film entitled The Last Stand of the Daltons, which was released in 1912. In 1918, Emmett's 1916 novel Beyond the Law was made into a six-reel film under the same name by Emmett's company, Southern Feature Film Corp. (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20). Many other films based on the lives of the Daltons, or featuring them as characters, have been produced, including Universal's 1940 production When the Daltons Rode, directed by George Marshall and starring Randolph Scott and Kay Francis. Universal also produced The Daltons Ride Again in 1945, directed by Ray Taylor and starring Alan Curtis, Lon Chaney and Kent Taylor (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50). Several films about Jesse and Frank James and Jesse's murder were produced, including the Twentieth Century-Fox 1939 production Jesse James (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40).