The Great Jesse James Raid (1953)
Jesse James on Poverty Row
Jesse James (Willard Parker) has given up his old ways and having taken the alias of Tom Howard has settled down despite being haunted and tormented by his past. But out of the blue old gang member Bob Ford (Jim Bannon) along with his partner Sam Wells (Richard Cutting) show up as they want Jesse's help with a gold mine they plan to rob. Through Jesse's connections they assemble a team including explosives expert Elias Hobbs (Wallace Ford) and gunman Arch Clements (Tom Neal). But with Ford's girl Kate (Barbara Payton) tagging along things are unsettled between the men especially as Clements takes a shine to her and it soon becomes clear that Jesse may not be able to trust any of them.
Where do I start well, I suppose the best place would be the opening credits which are written on a piece of white card which the camera clearly moves along. Amateurish is not the word to describe it and even for a poverty row movie you expect better especially one which is surprisingly in colour.
But the low budget production, and trust me "The Great Jesse James Raid" is low budget from start to finish, is not the most disappointing thing, using the name Jesse James in the title is. Yes we have Jesse who is haunted by his past and we also have Bob Ford but this is just a western about a group of outlaws trying to rob a gold mine and has nothing to do with Jesse James. Simply the use of the name is there as a hook to attract an audience and it works but at the same time the minute you realise that this is just an oater it disappoints.
Aside from that well as I said "The Great Jesse James Raid" is a low budget poverty row movie and as such there is plenty of talking and not enough action. And as for the action well it is simply typical of this type of movie and completely lacking in anything truly spectacular.
What this all boils down to is that "The Great Jesse James Raid" is a poverty row western, a low budget affair which lures you in to watching by using the name Jesse James but serves up a mostly a generic western storyline with no thrills, depth or exciting action.
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