People don’t really spin in their graves. If they did, Jesse James would take off like a helicopter, rise from his Missouri resting place, and soar over the treetops to a fabled, far-off land where Hollywood directors actually read history.
I’ve seen lots of Jesse James movies. They’re all terrible. Jesse James Meets Frankenstein’s Daughter is one of the ten worst horror films ever. Not surprising, given the title. Brad Pitt’s The Assassination of Jesse James is fairly accurate except for being filmed in Canada. Where were those snowy mountains and pine forests when I lived in Missouri? Plus the homosexual tension between Robert Ford and Jesse James was an odd addition.
Then we have Jesse James as the Outlaw and Jesse James under the Black Flag, starring none other than Jesse James, Jr. He should have become a bandit like his father, because he sure couldn’t act. Nor could the director direct. Or the screenwriter write. Produced in 1921 as silent films, in 1930 they were hacked up, spliced together, and a poor-quality narration was added. It flopped, both in 1921 and 1930.
It wasn’t hard for my Civil War horror novel, A Fine Likeness, to do better. Jesse’s a minor character, yet manages to steal every scene he’s in. That’s a legend’s privilege. Originally I didn’t plan on putting him in but I wanted Bloody Bill Anderson, a bloodthirsty Confederate guerrilla who led a deadly group of cutthroats. Frank and Jesse James rode with him, so I couldn’t exactly ignore their presence.
In one scene, based on an actual skirmish, the brothers rescue one of my protagonists. Actually they rescued a real, not fictional, guerrilla. That’s the only liberty I took with their story.
I’m surprised such a colorful character hasn’t starred in any movies. Perhaps I should write screenplays. Bloody Bill vs. Batman! The Torched Bridges of Madison County! Bloody Bill Scalps the Muggles! Yeah, I’d fit in over in Hollywood.
You can find A Fine Likeness at Amazon and Amazon UK
Visit Sean at his blog, Civil War Horror
Any questions for Sean? Any questions for Jesse James? (Be weird if he answered, wouldn’t it?) Think your story is better than anything out of Hollywood? Or it at least sucks a little less…