The Return of Jesse James


1h 15m 1950

Brief Synopsis

Johnny looks so much like the real Jesse, he is mistaken for him by a grizzled old member of the now deceased James gang. Johnny is talked into leading a new gang to rob banks using the same modus operandi as the famed outlaw. Jesse's brother Frank decides to put a stop to the defamation of his dead brother's name. Johnny and his gang run into trouble when they try to rob the same two banks, simultaneously, that proved to be the downfall of the original gang.

Film Details

Release Date
Sep 8, 1950
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Lippert Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Lippert Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,756ft

Synopsis

In 1883, an outlaw named Johnny Callum enters a Missouri saloon owned by two brothers, Bob and Charlie Ford, murderers of the notorious outlaw, Jesse James. When Johnny meets a saloon patron who used to belong to Jesse's gang, Hank "Pop" Younger, he introduces himself as Tom Howard. After Johnny claims that he is responsible for killing Jesse, news arrives at the saloon that the Clay County Bank has just been robbed. Pop becomes convinced that Johnny, who resembles Jesse, is actually the outlaw, whose death has been rumored to be a hoax. Later, Pop returns to the saloon with his two sons, Hank and Lem, who were also in Jesse's gang. Hank, Lem and Johnny go to the Youngers' cabin, where Johnny dons the hat and coat that Jesse used to wear. Pop instructs them to rob the Bank of East Texas, and during the holdup, Johnny uses a technique for which Jesse was well known: asking the teller to break a one-hundred-dollar bill. After Johnny robs several more banks in this manner and more rumors are circulated, Detective Dinkins is assigned to the case. Meanwhile, at the saloon, Bob and Charlie remain adamant that they killed Jesse. Johnny then overhears Pop's daughter Sue Ellen bragging that the authorities have offered her $5,000 to turn him in. At the saloon office, the still disguised Johnny fatally shoots Bob and Charlie, who shout out Jesse's name in their final moments. When Johnny is also hit, he returns to Sue, who insists he must see a doctor. Meanwhile, Sheriff Rigby offers pardons to any outlaw who can provide information leading to the gang's capture. Later, Pop finds a "wanted" poster with Johnny's picture on it and advises him to remain hidden. Sue, however, is anxious to marry Johnny right away and urges him to commit another robbery. Now completely immersed in his impersonation, Johnny decides to recreate Jesse's career and begins by targeting the first bank that he robbed. Unlike Jesse, however, Johnny is forced to shoot the bank's manager during the holdup. Later, Sue tells Johnny that the authorities have been inquiring about him, but he and the Youngers have already planned their next heist: the Westfield Bank. When Jesse's brother Frank, who has taken the alias "Ben Woodson" and lives peacefully with his wife Anne in Lebanon, Tennessee, reads about the robberies in the paper, he realizes that the impostor is duplicating each of Jesse's robberies. Later, Sue talks Johnny into cheating the Youngers by taking all of the proceeds from their planned heist of the Westfield Bank. Meanwhile, Frank is curious to see if his guess is correct and goes to the Westfield Bank to wait for the robbery. When the gang arrives, lawmen kill all of them except Johnny and Pop, who then turn and fire on each other. Severely wounded, Johnny limps home to Sue, who tells him to lie down on the bed. She then goes outside to the hallway to speak with some lawmen, and when Johnny overhears her, he realizes that she has turned them in and kills her.

Film Details

Release Date
Sep 8, 1950
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Lippert Productions, Inc.
Distribution Company
Lippert Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 15m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
6,756ft

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

A pre-production Variety news item noted that William Berke's original screenplay, Return of the James Boys, had been purchased by Lippert Productions. Berke was not credited onscreen, however, and the relationship, if any, between his screenplay and The Return of Jesse James has not been determined. This film marked the motion picture debut of actor Peter Marshall, who was best known for hosting the television game show Hollywood Squares. For more information on films featuring the James and Younger gangs, see entries for Jesse James and The Return of Frank James (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40; F3.2212 and F3.3703).