Cast & Crew
Outlaw Jesse James and his gang find themselves in a small Mississippi town with insufficient funds to return to their home base. Jesse romances Caprice Clark, a daughter of the local banker, and she gives him a key which they use to rob the bank one Sunday morning. Later, Jesse visits the Golden Bell Saloon posing as Jay Woodson, a cattleman, and meets co-owner Waco Gans and becomes involved in a fight with her partner, a gambler named "Cameo." During a buggyride with Jesse, Waco reveals that she wants to leave Cameo, but needs money. The gang becomes restless, wanting to head home, and Frank James has an argument with Jesse over his womanizing. Meanwhile Cattle Kate Kennedy arrives in town with a herd of cattle for banker Clark, who is unable to pay her due to the robbery. Later, Jesse and gang members Frank and Cole Younger dupe Cameo in a card game, and although Cameo escapes with all the cash, they catch up with him and take the money. When they return to the ranch where they are hiding out, Jesse discovers that Bob Ford and others have bungled a stagecoach robbery and kidnapped one of the female passengers. Jesse rescues Delta, a singer on her way to perform at the Golden Bell, but Waco is not pleased to see Delta in Jesse's company. A further complication arises when Caprice pressures Jesse to marry her. After some of the gang decide to leave, Ford rides into Silver Creek and mails a photograph he has secretly taken of Jesse, Frank and Cole. Ford then runs into Cattle Kate, an old flame of Jesse's, and tells her where he can be found. Later, at the saloon, Jesse finds himself surrounded by the admiring, but equally jealous, Waco, Delta and Kate. Waco and Kate become involved in a brawl which ends when Jesse pours a bucket of beer over them. Although Frank and Cole want to leave, Jesse is determined to relieve Kate of the cash she will receive for the cattle. Meanwhile the sheriff's adolescent daughter, Angel Botts, who has a crush on Jesse, discovers his true identity when she opens Ford's letter, but does not inform her father. Later, a prizefighting promoter arrives in town and Delta takes up with the boxer, then persuades Jesse to try to win a thousand dollars by surviving three rounds with the "champ." Delta says that she will drug the fighter so that Jesse will win and collect on the wagering. However, during the bare-knuckles contest, Delta double-crosses Jesse and he is knocked out. When he regains consciousness, Waco complains to him that she has lost all her money betting on him. However, Jesse, Frank and Clay go after the fighter and recover the money. Meanwhile Clark has raised sufficient funds to pay Kate for the cattle, and she entrusts her moneybelt to the sheriff's care then challenges Waco to a gunfight. They meet in the middle of the street but, as they draw their guns, Jesse shoots the weapons out of their hands and the sheriff arrests them. Jesse and the others then plan to leave and implicate Caprice in the bank robbery, as she has become troublesome. Jesse persuades the sheriff to allow him to deposit Kate's cash, but gives some of it to Angel to buy a horse. Jesse, Frank and Cole head for home but on the outskirts of town, Jesse gives the rest of the cash to a poor farmer. Later, as a newspaper headline announces that Jesse has been shot in the back by Ford for reward money, the people of Silver Creek head to Sunday morning church service.
Barton F. Hayes
Walter R. Mcguire
A Variety news item of September 2, 1953 announced that Jesse James' Women would be made in Silver Creek, MS and that Wanda Hendrix and Arlene Whelan would appear in the film with Don Barry and Jack Beutel. The film was the first production of Panorama Pictures Corp., a company founded by Meridian, MS theater owner Lloyd Royal and businessman Tom Garraway, who sold shares in the corporation to about 180 local people. The tiny town of Silver Creek, off Highway 84, was used as the principal location and was dressed to look like a Western town. A Daily Variety news item of August 4, 1954 stated that the film was produced at a cost of $160,000 and would have its premiere, probably in Jackson, the following month.
Onscreen credits list William Cox and Barry, who is listed onscreen as both Don and Donald, as writers of the screenplay, but the pressbook and reviews give sole credit to D. D. Beauchamp. Additionally, the actress who portrayed "Caprice Clark" was listed as Joyce Barrett onscreen, but as Joyce Rhed in reviews and press materials. The onscreen song credit begins with the phrase: "Original Songs Composed for the Picture."
According to information in the film's file in the MPPA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, the screenplay was not submitted for review prior to production, and the PCA refused to approve the film as it was "basically a glamorization of a robber and seducer, who rides away in triumph." Barry suggested that they insert a newspaper headline about Jesse's death and the PCA Administration agreed "to accept this rather crude and obvious expedient in order to get the picture approved." However, they also required that trims be made in three or four fade-outs involving Barry and various actresses and in the fight between the women.
A Daily Variety news item of July 31, 1967 reported that Barry intended to reissue the film through Panorama, despite the fact that it had been available on television for five years. According to the item, Barry stated that the low-budget film had been brought in for $138,000 and had grossed $2,600,000. For more information on Jesse James, please see the entry for the 1939 film Jesse James in the AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40.