Chris Wimmer is the host and producer of the extremely popular Legends of the Old West and Infamous America podcasts. He joins us today to help make the longest episode name ever as we compare history with the 2007 movie The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
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Note: This transcript is automatically generated. There will be mistakes, so please don’t use them for quotes. It is provided for reference use to find things better in the audio.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:02:25] The movie opens on September 7th, 1881, just two days after Jesse James, his 34th birthday, we hear some voiceover that tells us the James gang committed over 25 bank train and stagecoach robberies from 1867 to 1881. And then we get to see one of those robberies and what the movie says is their last train robbery in Blue Cut, Missouri.
From this, we can get the sense for what the James Gang robberies might’ve been like. They put railroad ties on the tracks even before the sun goes down and that forces the train to stop when it gets there. And we even get a bit of what I expect would be a bit of Hollywood cinematography as Brad Pitt’s version of Jesse james stands on the railroad ties in front of the train right as it stops. And after it stops the gang members board the train. Then they split up to rob passengers, as well as the safe on the train. Of course, for this robbery in particular, the movie mentions, they thought there would be about a hundred thousand dollars in the safe, and once they get it open, they find out there’s not nearly that much.
Now, since this is the only train robbery by the James gang that we get to see in the movie. How well do you think it did depicting. The way the James Gang rob trains?
Chris Wimmer: [00:03:38] Well, first, Dan, thanks again for having me back on. I appreciate it. These are, these movies are always fun and I’ve certainly enjoyed our previous interview. So I appreciate you bringing me back to talk about this movie specifically.
Secondly, to answer your question, there’s actually, I think, as we talked about before we started recording, well, they do kind of a three part answer on this one.
And number one, is it in general? Yeah, they did a lot of things. Very accurately with this specific robbery. And then they also kind of blended in some other things that happen in other Jessie James robberies.
I wanted to start with two quick things. One, I think is a personal favorite story of mine. It’s an anecdote of, of Hollywood and some fun behind the scenes behind the curtain stuff. And the other is a little note about this film.
So the note about the film. Is that, this is one of the few instances where a Hollywood movie is based on a historical fiction novel. So I don’t know how many people know that. I think most people know it’s based on a book, but it’s not based on a, you know, a strict, hard, true narrative nonfiction book.
It’s based on a novel. So the novelist took some liberties with the reality of the things he depicted. And then of course the movie goes even further with mixing some things up. Where it feels like they need to for drama in a feature film, the anecdote that I always like to talk about with this is that somewhat factors into this idea that we don’t know how much more there might have been in this train robbery sequence.
And some of the other sequences. That’s what I want to talk about briefly is this mythical long version of this film. So there exists a version of this film that is somewhere between three and a half and four hours long. And a good friend of mine was fortunate enough to have seen that long version in Hollywood when he and I both lived there.
And I don’t know how much your listeners might remember, but my own personal story. But I lived in, worked in Hollywood for about 15 years before I got into journalism and then podcasting. So one of the great perks of living in Hollywood is that you get opportunities to go to test screenings of movies long before the general public sees them.
And so sometimes, you know, the sound isn’t finished or the special effects aren’t finished, it’s an unfinished print. And the studio just wants to get a feel for how the audience is reacting to the film. So that process happened with assassination of Jesse James, several months before it came out in the theaters.
And the test screening that they use, the Warner brothers used for the film was a three and a half hour version of the film. And so my good friend comes into work. The next day. We’re both working in the same small TV studio. He comes into work. The next day, he’s seen this long version of Jesse James and he I’ve never seen a person so effected by a movie.
He came in saying it was the greatest film he’d ever seen in his life. And this is a big statement from this guy. He’s a file. He sees lots of movies. He knows tons about film. He’s a great cinematographer in his own, right. And to have him say that about this movie that I don’t think any of us had heard of this is months before the movie came out.
Maybe the trailer had been released, but not everybody knew about it. I don’t think I’d heard of it. So my first reaction, my first knowledge of this film was hearing this guy say, this is the greatest thing I’ve ever seen in my life. And so to this day, he remains one of the few people who have ever seen that long version.
The three and a half hour version has never been released to the public. It’s not on any DVD, as far as I know, there’s no plans to release it. You know, if you go on the internet and you do a deep dive, you will find little references to it. Occasionally the director, Andrew Dominick will talk about it. If he does an interview, someone inevitably brings up the long version.
They keep saying, you know, it’s probably never going to come out. So unfortunately my friend, well, fortunately for him, unfortunately for the rest of us, he’s one of the few people who have ever seen that long version outside of the studio or the creators of the film. So to somewhat tie that into your question, we don’t know how much more there might’ve been to this sequence and how much they might’ve put in there that they had to take out.
And how many other things might have been enhanced, but there’s a whole other hour of footage out there. That I would love to see at some point. And if you enjoy the film, hopefully you want to see it too. So maybe we should all petition Warner brothers to finally release that on blue Ray at some point here.
So that’s a little, that’s a little tidbit and anecdote. Now here’s the more direct answer to your question about this specific robbery. So the robbery is, is very close to the way it happened in real life. There’s a few differences of course, as there always are. So the gang that robbed the blue cut train, it was only six men.
And a couple people who you see in the gang, it looks like there’s probably 10 or 12 guys in the gang that rubs the train in the film. A couple of the more prominent ones who you see in the film were not there in real life. And one of them was coincidentally Robert Ford or ironically Robert Ford was not at the blue cut robbery.
We’ll probably talk about that a little bit later. And another character ed Miller was not there and we will certainly discuss why he wasn’t there a little bit later in the interview. But there’s only six guys, but the other things you do see in the film are relatively accurate. The James gang usually staged three guys on one side of the tracks and three guys on the other.
So they kind of attacked the train from both sides. When they did a robbery at blue cut, they did pile some stuff on the tracks in the movie. It looks like big pieces of wood. They’ve cut down some trees. In reality, it was a bunch of stones. They put a bunch of rocks on the train tracks. But you mentioned that cinematic moment of Brad Pitt stepping up onto the logs in the film with the lantern, something like that did actually happen in real life.
Jesse James had a lantern that he set on the pile of stones to signal to the train to stop. And what they used to do in those days was use a red signal flag, or in this case, a red lantern. To signal to the engineer that there’s trouble up ahead and the train needs to stop. So Jessie’s got this red lantern that he’s waving back and forth and he puts it on the pile of stones.
Of course, the engineer sees the stones, sees the red lantern and knows. He knows he both needs to stop the train and he’s about to get robbed. So then the robbery happens very close to the way it was in real life. The six guys run onto the train. They start stealing things from the passengers, which was only the second time and Jesse James career that they ever stolen.
Anything from passengers, very rarely, well only one other time. Did they steal from the passengers? So they steal things from the passengers. They go into the area where the safe should be, where they think in reality there was, they thought there was $75,000 in that train. And in reality, they only got 400 out of that safe.
Now, what they didn’t know was that there was another safe with more money in it, in that train car, but it was hidden under chicken coops by this point. So many trains have been robbed and certainly by the James gang, that the railroads were starting to come up with clever ways to hide the money. They still had to transport it by train, but now that we’re starting to hide it in different places.
So. This is also the second time this has happened to the James gang and they’re in their very first train robbery. They think there’s this huge shipment of money. And in reality there kind of is, but only some of it is in real currency. The rest of it is in raw, or that’s going to be refined into gold coins and they can’t take this shipment of raw orgs.
It’s massive and it’s way too heavy. So this is the second time where they’ve thought there’s going to be a lot of money on there. And it turns out not to be the case, the other. Last thing to mention in there is something that I really love. And you’re talking about the cinematography. I love the way that the film is shot.
That opening sequence is fantastic. The other thing that’s slightly different in this version is that they, most of the guys didn’t wear those kinds of white hoods that make you think of KKK members. Although, that was a technique. That was a strategy in the very first robbery. Again, both robberies, the very first robbery and the very last robbery are somewhat tied together in the film.
In the first robbery, the James gang did wear these white hoods white masks to try to trick investigators and thinking, but the gang was part of the KKK. So they were throwing the investigators off their trail. By faking membership in the KKK. Can you see that tactic come back around in the film version of this robbery?
They probably did wear masks in real life, but they’re probably closer to what Jesse and Frank Warren just bandanas pulled up over there. Noses and mouths in the classic old West fashion.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:12:05] I like how you mentioned how they tied the first and the last together in the film. I would not have put those together at all.
Chris Wimmer: [00:12:11] Yeah. They don’t reference that first robbery you’ll get, like you said, they very rarely reference anything else that happens in the past. You just get little nuggets through mostly the voiceover, but these little things they, they use to tie together the real history of the story.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:12:25] Well, after that robbery, the blue cut robbery.
Frank James says something to the effect of how they’re giving up night riding for good. And as I was watching the movie, it made me think that one of the reasons why blue cut was their final robbery was because the take from the train just wasn’t what they expected it to be. But then the movie also mentioned that the original members of the gang were either in prison or dead, except for Frank and Jesse, of course.
So. Maybe the two brothers had already decided that their time was an earring and an, and they knew that they were done. Did the James brothers decide to hang up their outlawing ways after the blue cut train robbery? Like the movie shows
Chris Wimmer: [00:13:05] to some degree? Yeah. The short answer is that Frank did and Jesse didn’t.
Somewhat like you see in the film, you know, we’d never see another robbery. And in fact, there were no other robberies after blue cut, but Jesse, as we’re going to talk about later plans, other robberies that he never carries out. But yeah, after the blue cut robbery, Frank basically goes straight. He moves out of Missouri and he moves to the East coast and gives up a life of crime for good and somewhat.
It’s also kind of a two part answer that people who know the, the history of the James gang, they know that. The big moment in the history of the James gang is the Epic failed Northfield raid in Northfield, Minnesota. And so after Jesse and Frank get into this massive shootout with the, basically the whole town of Northfield in Minnesota.
And they go on this crazy two week journey to escape. They get home and of course they want to lay low for a while and recover. And during that time, Frank basically has decided he’s given up a life of crime. Frank essentially goes straight after the failed Northfield robbery. But Jesse wants to get back into the life.
He’s always, he loves the fun. He loves the action dealers, the excitement of robbing. So he starts to assemble a new gang. He does a couple more robberies before blue cut that Frank is not a part of, but all of that activity ends up sucking Frank back in. So Frank does this one last job and then says, yes, he’s done.
And so after that Frank separates and he goes off and settles in Lynchburg, Virginia. And then Jesse’s life plays out more or less the way you see in the film.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:14:40] Okay. Did that the way the movie depicts that I get the sense that there was some.
Chris Wimmer: [00:14:47] Disagreement
Dan LeFebvre: [00:14:48] between Frank and Jesse. I think the movie of Anne mentioned that they’re not on speaking terms at the time that Frank leaves, I think he goes to Baltimore in the movie.
I don’t know if that was his final destination. They never really mentioned if he was going elsewhere to Virginia or something after that. But what was the relationship between Frank and Jesse? Like at that point? I
Chris Wimmer: [00:15:07] think it was pretty similar to what you see in the movie that it was at that point. It was almost certainly strained the, I guess it’s the original second gang that Jesse form.
So after the, after the Northfield robbery, Jesse and Frank lay low and recover for awhile. And then Jesse is the one who builds up this second gang. And after a robbery or two with the second gang, things have started to go wrong. Some of those gang members have fallen away and we’re going to talk about some of those as we go through.
But over the course of that time period, as Jesse is back robbing things, and Frank is not a part of it. Frank doesn’t like the decisions Jessie’s making. He doesn’t like the guys Jessie’s involved with. So there’s a L and Jessie’s becoming more paranoid as this whole process unfolds. And so Jesse and Frank’s relationship is definitely strained by the time the blue cut robbery happens.
And because of Jessie’s actions, Frank has. Been forced to move out of the life. He’s been building for himself in Tennessee. That’s mostly where they spent their time after the Northfield raid. And so Frank is forced to move back to Kansas city back to their home territory, where they can be safe and kind of sequestered in the area where they know, and they have friends and family, people who are going to protect them.
And so Frank’s life of going straight has been uprooted by Jesse. So they’re definitely strained. And the blue cut robbery ends up just basically being the breaking point. And at that point, Frank moves away. And to my knowledge, they never speak again. I’m not aware of an instance, you know, I certainly would have been writing letters back and forth and I don’t think that happens.
So to my knowledge, they never speak again. It’s possible that did, Frank did go to Baltimore. One brief little episode you read about in the lives and careers of Frank and Jesse is that they both lived in Baltimore. Very, very briefly. And so it’s possible that Frank did go back to Baltimore. But the trajectory that I know of is that after the blue cut robbery, he went to Tennessee and then North Carolina, and then ultimately settled in Virginia.
So there could have been a stop in Baltimore in there somewhere.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:17:07] Okay. Well, you mentioned the paranoia and we start to see some of this happen in the movie after the gang breaks up. When Jesse finds out about a plan by a former gang member, Jim Cummins. Basically the way the movie describes this is his plan is to capture and turn Jesse James in for the governor’s reward.
And according to the movie, Jesse finds out about it from another former gang member named ed Miller, and then Jesse ends up killing ed. Was there really this plan for some of his former gang to turn him in for the reward.
Chris Wimmer: [00:17:43] Somewhat though, not these two guys. It’s kind of factors into the very end of the story with Charlie and Robert Ford.
But there is some drama between this trio of ed Miller and Jim Cummins. And Jesse, though, all of that action happens before this movie actually starts. So there’s a year before the blue cut robbery is a robbery that’s right. Known as the Glendale train the Glendale train. Robert, you could actually hear that.
Referenced in songs as well, since we might end up talking about the, the famous Jesse James ballad that is sung at the end of the film, the Glendale train robbery is also mentioned in other songs, the Glendale train robbery is where things really start to go wrong for Jesse James, his new gang Rob’s this train.
One of the gang members gets caught afterwards. The guy who’s a relatively minor player. He starts to talk about the gang members. He starts to give people up. Which of course is what really starts fueling Jessie’s paranoia in Jesse’s paranoia, ed Miller disappears and his body is found on the side of a road.
And no one knows for sure that Jesse killed him, but everyone assumes it had to be. So it feels like to the gang members and to everybody who’s in that world, Jesse starting to clear up loose ends because he’s afraid of what this gang member is saying to the police there’s gang members probably naming people to the police.
So everyone assumes Jesse kills. Ed Miller. Jim Cummins and old friend of Jesse’s becomes very suspicious of Jesse. Jesse is giving conflicting answers about what happened to ed Miller. Ed has just disappeared. Nobody really understands what has happened to him. And so Jesse has given conflicting answers.
Jim grows suspicious of Jesse. He starts grilling Jessie about what happened to ed Miller. And as Jessie’s answers change, Jim Cummins actually finds ed Miller’s horse in a stable, at a place where Jesse is staying. So basically it looks like Jesse has stolen ed Miller’s horse, and this solidifies for Jim, but Jesse killed ed Miller.
And so at this point, this is also something you end up somewhat seeing in the film though, from the periphery, Jim goes on the run. He totally disappears. And this is another instance that fuels the paranoia of Jesse. And then Frank, suddenly Jim is on the run. He knows everything. He’s been with a guy who’s been friends with the guys for a long time.
They all fought in the civil war together. They’re old war buddies. So the things that Jim could say would be very damning for the James brothers. But then Jim just goes on the run and disappears. Nobody sees him again. He stays on the run for like 25 years. And so after he’s gone for a little while, Frank and Jesse start to settle down and think, okay, I guess he’s not going to the police, but that’s the kind of weird situation between ed Miller, Jim Cummins and Jesse.
So you do see Jesse trying to find Jim Cummins in the movie and being paranoid that Jim has gone, but it’s not really connected the way it appears to be in the movie. Jim is not working with the police or hasn’t gone to the cops, but Jessie’s scared that he might.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:20:58] Okay. It sounds like in the movie and possibly, you know, the, the book that it’s based on in there that changing the timeline a little bit to add things in kinda like with the train robbery, where they add elements of the first robbery in with the last one to mix it together, a little bit of creative license there to, to do that.
It sounds like they’re adding in some of the paranoia from previous. Into this timeline in order to give a little bit of what it might’ve been like with Jesse James prior to the actual timeline of the film itself.
Chris Wimmer: [00:21:31] Yeah. They’re just heightening the paranoia. It’s, you know, Jesse probably felt all of this paranoia.
It was just spread out over a much longer timeline. So for the film, they’re putting all of these events together and crunching the timeline so that it heightens Jesse’s paranoia. It just adds to the drama.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:21:47] Yeah. That makes sense. Speaking of the movie, there is another rift that we see between two other gang members or former gang members.
There’ll be Dick little and wood height. And as the movie explained it, the two were visiting Wood’s father at his house, major George height. And. Dick has an affair with George’s wife, Sarah, so later, and presumably afterwards finds out about the affair. We never really, I don’t think they actually point that out specifically, but it’s very heavily implied that he must’ve found out about it.
So he comes chasing after Dick little and nearly kills him until he is shot by Robert Ford, who also happens to be in the room when word came charging in shooting. Did this feud between Dick Lidl and wood height really happen and ends the way the movie shows by Robert Ford killing his former colleague in the James gang?
Chris Wimmer: [00:22:36] Yes. The few did happen. The end of it does happen. Very similar to what you see in the movie. The couple changes are that Dick Lidl and wood height were feuding, but they were feuding over the sister of Charlie and Robert Ford. As soon as you see in the movie, Bob and Charlie and Dick little and various other characters, you see a central house where they’re all, some of them are living or at the very least they stopped by.
Jesse stops by every now and then. So that home in real life is the home of Martha Bolton, who is the sister of Bob and Charlie Ford. She kind of runs this boarding house for these guys and any strangers who happen to stop by and her house is basically the headquarters. That’s where everybody gathers and plans things and hangs out.
And they constantly rendezvous at her house. So would height and Dick little are both sweet on Bob and Charlie’s sister. And that’s why they’re feuding. And they do get into a shooting scrape at the house of wood Heights, father in Kentucky. As you see in the movie, Jesse has summoned them to the home of wood Heights father.
And during that sequence would height and Dick little end up shooting at each other in the yard, and then they separate. They that’s the last straw for those two guys, they’ve been fighting over Martha. They exchanged gunshots with each other and then Dick little rides back to Missouri and wood comes back later and both guys end up in Martha Bolton’s home and the, they ended up shooting at each other again, over the breakfast table.
So they, they moved the sequence from the breakfast table up into the house, in the film or up into the bedroom in the film in real life. These two guys are standing basically over a table, just a few feet apart from each other, firing guns at each other. And you don’t really know for sure how the sequence ends, but wood height ends up getting shot in the head and he dies.
And for the rest of his life, Robert Ford claims that he’s the one who killed wood height though. I don’t think anybody knows definitively that that’s how it happened, but those three guys were there. Dick little and wood height were shooting at each other and would height does end up dead. I guess we have to take Robert Ford’s word for it.
That he’s the one who killed wood height though. I guess it could certainly have been Dick little.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:24:54] You mentioned they’re shooting at each other. And when I was watching the movie. You know, what height charges in any shooting is like you are maybe a foot away in the movie and just almost empties his chamber and can’t hit him.
Like, man, you’re a terrible shot.
Chris Wimmer: [00:25:09] It’s one of those things that just looks absurd on film, but it really did happen that way in real life. And then, you know, another quick nugget about the old West is it, there are very few just classic gunfights where two guys walk out into the street and pull their guns and fire at each other.
When it did happen it most times it was because the guys were drunk and they were blind drunk, and they were doing basically what you see in the movie. They’re starting very close to each other and they don’t hit anything because they’re too drunk to see. So they’re firing wildly in all directions and nothing gets hit except for buildings or unfortunately some random bystanders.
So as absurd as it might seem in the film that these two guys are so close to each other and can’t hit anything. Something like that does happen and happens somewhat regularly in the old West. It’s just wild.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:25:58] I’m glad you clarified that
Chris Wimmer: [00:25:59] because it did
Dan LeFebvre: [00:25:59] seem ridiculous while I was watching it. I was like, really?
Chris Wimmer: [00:26:02] Yeah. I feel the same way every time I say it. When I’ve just watched the movie again before this interview, every time that scene comes up, I think, Oh, that’s right. We’re about to see these guys look like they’re four feet from each other. The barrels are almost touching each other and they still can’t hit each other.
So, yeah, it’s just, it’s the nerves of the situation. And more often than not is because the guys are so drunk.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:26:22] Yeah. And then of course, you know, when you see Robert Ford shooting would heightened the movie, it almost is the exact opposite of that. And be like, okay, these two guys can’t hate each other. And then Robert Ford is able to get a headshot from even further away.
Chris Wimmer: [00:26:34] Yeah. He’s he becomes a little more coldblooded and clinical in that moment. Well,
Dan LeFebvre: [00:26:40] the killing of wood height. Isn’t the only time that we see Robert Ford or they call him Bob and the movie turning on someone that he used to ride with. We also see him going to the police commissioner in Kansas city, and then he tells him where Dick Lidl is hiding out.
And before long we see cops around the house and capture him being Dick little. So that becomes the second time that the movie shows Robert Ford betraying one of the guys who used to be in the James gang. Did he really do that?
Chris Wimmer: [00:27:09] Not to that extent. And not specifically with Dick little though, there might be some of that in the shadows of the story.
It’s hard to tell, but the quick sequence of events is that yes, the cops did raid Martha Bolton’s home looking for Dick little, but they don’t find him. He jumps out of a window and runs into the woods. And hides in the woods until the police go away. But after that, it’s pretty clear that the cops are closing in on Jessie’s gang and the various members of Jesse’s gang.
So it’s actually Martha Bolton, the sister of Bob and Charlie Ford, who goes to the governor with this offer. She says she can bring in Dick little. He wants to talk Dick little wants to surrender. He will voluntarily start working with the governor. And this task force, basically that the governor has built to bring down the James gang.
So Martha offers up Dick little OnDeck, little suggestion, and while she’s there, she says, Oh, by the way, my brother, Bob also wants to be a part of this. He thinks he can help bring in Jesse James. So that’s how Bob B starts to really formulate this plan. To turn in Jesse. So he didn’t really have a hand, I don’t think in the almost capture of Dick little, but that’s how the sequence begins, where he starts to work with the governor to eventually bring down Jesse.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:28:31] Okay. Yeah. That’s very different than what I remember seeing in the movie where. We see a cutaway of OB going to the police and it’s like, okay, he’s the only one there. So he’s kind of doing this on his own.
Chris Wimmer: [00:28:42] Yeah. Yeah. He didn’t, as far as I’m aware now it’s certainly possible. I tried to look it up again.
I went back to my research. I don’t remember how exactly the police get to Martha Bolton’s home to look for Dick little it’s possible that Bob Ford had tipped them off, but I don’t think that’s what happened. So to my knowledge, Bob didn’t betray Dick a little. He just ended up starting to capitalize on the situation.
Dick little is about to turn himself in. He’s using Bob’s sister to connect him to the governor. So Bob just kind of piggybacks off of that
Dan LeFebvre: [00:29:14] was that sort of betrayal from guys who used to write together a common occurrence after the gang broke
Chris Wimmer: [00:29:20] up, after the original gang broke up, it was certainly more common, but it was absolutely not beforehand.
The original James gang. We’re very tight knit, very close bunch of guys. And so there really is kind of a first half and a second half of Jesse James career. So the original gang were guys were the younger brothers and several others who all grew up together. They all fought in the civil war together.
They had this bond. From having been guerrilla fighters in the civil war and they wouldn’t never turn on each other. And in fact, they didn’t, after the Northfield raid, the younger brothers famously, don’t say a word about the involvement of Jesse James and Frank James in the Northfield raid. They won’t even acknowledge the Frank and Jesse were at the raid, even though everybody knows they were.
So those guys famously kept their mouth shut. Now the problem comes in. With the robbery that leads to the Northfield raid. So the part of the reason the Northfield raid happens at all is that Jesse and Frank decide to include this new guy in the gang, this young kind of hanger on who really wants to be a part of the gang.
They decide to bring him along on a robbery. But this young guy is much more in it for the, the flash and the image and the, or a, of being an outlaw and being able to claim that he’s an outlaw. So they go through with the robbery, this guy gets drunk. He starts flashing around all his money and starts running his mouth about being an outlaw.
And of course he gets caught. And he’s the first one who starts talking about the James gang. He names, names to the police. All of that information finds its way into the newspapers. And so now there’s a ton of heat on Frank and Jesse, which ends up somewhat pushing them to get out of Missouri and right up to Minnesota and Rob a bank where they’ve never been before.
So they’re both escaping the heat of Missouri and drawing attention away from Missouri by robbing a bank in Minnesota. And of course then just goes, like I said, spectacularly wrong. But that’s part of the reason why, well, there’s this first half, second half thing. So this first guy in the first gang betrays the gang, and he’s the first one, but then in the second gang, it starts happening fairly regularly.
So after the Glendale robbery, one of the gang members gets caught. He talks to the police after another small robbery, but Jesse is a part of down in Alabama. A guy in that robbery gets caught and he’s going to testify against the first guy. So Jesse’s gang members are starting to fall like crazy. And this again is we’re going to talk about in a little bit too, keeps fueling his paranoia.
So the idea of being betrayed comes much more in second half, but not in the first half of the career.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:32:01] The way you explain that really helps me put together this bigger picture of why Jesse James was getting more and more paranoid as the years went on. Right? If he, if more and more members of his gang are essentially.
Turning on him. Well, that would lead to paranoia.
Chris Wimmer: [00:32:20] I’ll certainly elaborate on it a little bit. I think the next thing we are thinking about talking about, I think I’ll, I can go a little further with it and you can really see the path of Jessie’s paranoia.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:32:29] Yeah. Yeah. Well, going back to the movie. We see Charlie Ford managed to convince Jesse James to let his brother Robert join up with them again.
So we see there’s essentially three of them now, Jesse, Charlie and Robert, and they’re living alongside Jesse’s wife XE and their two kids. And this was interesting because Jesse, his wife and kids almost seem to show up out of nowhere. They’re not really mentioned at the beginning of the movie, that much Zee was around when Frank left, but really it almost all of a sudden.
Robert is helping them move houses. And then he’s there staying with them. He’s helping out around the house, alongside Jesse’s wife and kids. And as I was watching this, I was conflicted by what the movie was trying to say. So hopefully you can help clarify this on one hand. We get the idea that Charlie had to convince Jesse to let Robert back into his good graces.
There’s even some dialogue where Jesse says something about how he’s comfortable around Charlie, but not so much for you, Bob. Like he’s not comfortable around Robert, but on the other hand, we also see Charlie and Robert seemingly living with Jesse James and his wife and kids. So he must have had some level of trust for both Ford brothers to let them around his family.
How did the movie do showing this side of the relationship between Jesse James and the two Ford brothers?
Chris Wimmer: [00:33:50] I think it did a pretty good job for the time that was allowed or the time they could spend doing this again, who knows what the head that mythical three and a half hour version might have showed it in this context.
But I think they did a pretty good job. Jesse was pretty close with Charlie Ford. They were closer in age. Charlie’s the older of the two brothers. So Jesse and Charlie become pretty good friends. Charlie was a part of the blue cut robbery. As I said before, Bob was not, Bob was only 18 when he first met Jesse James.
So when we get to this moment in the field, as we’re winding toward the end or the second half of the film, Bob has, I believe now about 20 years old, but he’s never committed a crime with the gang. He’s never really done anything to my knowledge. He’s never committed any crime. And so Jesse’s pretty comfortable with Charlie, but probably not as comfortable with Bob, but maybe not as awkward as the relationship seems.
It’s hard to tell how that relationship really would have been in real life. But as we start, as we, as they start moving along through the film, this is where I was referencing just a second ago, by this point in the story and the movie, certainly Bob and Charlie Ford are really the only guys left around.
Jesse, as we’ve talked about, his gang members have been slowly dwindling for about a year and a half now, or maybe a couple of years now. Where ed Miller is dead by Jesse’s hand. Jim Cummins has disappeared. Wood height is no longer around. Jesse of course is not quite sure what has happened to his cousin would height, but Wood’s not around.
Dick little has been acting very strange since the disappearance of wood height and Clarence height, the younger brother of wood, who was one of the gang members on the Glendale train robbery a year before blue cuffs. Has now been recently captured. So that’s another gang member who’s been captured. So three of Jesse’s gang members over a space of about a year and a half have been captured.
His cousin would, height has disappeared. Jim Cummins has disappeared. Bob and Charlie are the only guys left. So, if you start stacking all those things up, you can start to see how Jessie’s paranoia is really starting to work over time. And so he’s, he really has only these two guys left to trust. So if he wants to keep robbing and of course, like I said earlier, Frank James is on the East coast.
He’s no longer a part of it. So almost by necessity. Jesse keeps Bob and Charlie close. Because if he wants to do any kind of robbing, he needs some kind of gang. And these are the only two guys left.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:36:23] You mentioned when Bob at this point hadn’t actually done anything. And I think he does mention his age at the blue cut robbery and the movie, which of course, you know, he wasn’t actually there, but I also get the sense from the movie that.
He almost fills the role of something you were talking about earlier that the guy earlier, who I wanted to join the gang for the, you know, the flash of it, because we get the sense that Robert Ford in the movie has read all these novels about Jesse James and he’s Jesse James is essentially his hero in the beginning of the movie, especially.
Did Robert Ford have that sort of relationship with Jesse James, where he looked up to him as a hero? Or was he almost there just because of his brother, Charlie being close to Jesse?
Chris Wimmer: [00:37:08] I think it was a little bit of both. I do think there was a little bit of this idol worship idea from Bob Ford, because some of the references you do see both visually and in dialogue to dime novels or nickel novels, maybe I think somebody, maybe Frank talks about them costing 5 cents or something like that.
The pulp novels are starting to be written by this time. And certainly there have been volumes written in the newspapers about the James boys. And John Newman Edwards, specifically a newspaper editor in Kansas city writes huge, huge articles, whole sections of newspapers, dedicated to glorifying the James boys and Jesse specifically.
So if, even if I can’t remember specifically when the first, you know, real, Pope novel dime novel about Jesse James comes out, but it’s right around this time. So even if there aren’t a whole stockpile of those books yet available in 1882, They’re on their way and hit these guys. There would have been plenty for Bob to read.
So from what I understand, I think he does worship Jesse to some degree, but at the same time, yes, his brother’s with Charlie. And so he’s connected to Jesse by extension.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:38:20] Okay. The movie mentioned that even though the blue cut train robbery was their last one. That there’s also a plan for more. And I think you mentioned this briefly earlier as well, according to the movie, Jesse James plans, robberies across Nebraska, Colorado, Missouri, but then it says that none of them were ever carried out.
And later in the movie, there’s a point where Charlie Ford suggest to Robert that their plan for the Platte city robbery was never real either. It’s heavily implied that Charlie thinks that robbery plan was all a ruse. So Jesse can get the two brothers alone and. Kill them. And that makes me wonder about some of those other plans.
Were they real or were they also just elaborate ruses to achieve some other goal with Jesse’s paranoia going on? What do we know about Jesse James plans to do robberies and why they were never actually carried out?
Chris Wimmer: [00:39:13] I think they were real plans over the course of the years. The James gang planned several robberies that they didn’t carry out.
So I tend to believe. That they were real plants. My guess would be they weren’t an elaborate plan for maybe Jessie to draw out Bob and Charlie though. It’s not without the, not of the realm of possibility without a doubt. He certainly could have been trying that, but I think they were real. And I think he, I think the one that they talk about the Platte city robbery, I believe that is that’s the one that seems to have the most.
Creditable plans to it, that they were planning a bank robbery in Missouri at the time that Jesse was killed. So I think in my mind, I give, I guess Jesse credit that he was planning this robbery. They were putting a plan together. And man, of course it didn’t work out.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:40:01] Okay. Well, speaking of it, not working out, we’re getting closer to the actual assassination itself, but according to the movie on April 1st, We see Jesse James, give Robert Ford a gun.
It’s his way of apologizing for as the movie puts it being ornery as of late. And he blames that his orneriness on government making him feel cornered. Is it true that Jesse James gave Robert Ford the gun that he eventually was killed with just a few days later?
Chris Wimmer: [00:40:30] As far as I’m aware. No, I haven’t seen any evidence that Jesse gave the gun to Bob, but the gun that you see in the movie, the, the gun that Bob does use at the end of the film, that is basically an exact replica of the gun that Bob Ford did own.
And that gun Robert Ford’s gun when it was sold at auction several years ago. Now, I believe it’s still the, the record setter for. Weapons purchased at auction from the old West, you know, famous guns who were used by famous law, men or Outlaws or whoever they were blackjack catch hymns gun fetch to huge amount, a wild bill Hickox weapons.
But I believe Robert Ford’s gun still holds the record for sale at auction at over $240,000, I believe is what someone paid for it. But if you look up pictures of it, it looks identical to the one that they use in the film. But to my knowledge, Jesse, didn’t give that gun to Bob. It’s certainly possible. I just haven’t found it anywhere again.
I, I tried to qualify these things. As you know, I read a lot about this stuff, but I, some people spend their entire lives researching this one story. So maybe it’s buried somewhere deep in the archives, but I’ve never seen it.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:41:45] What about the idea that Jesse James was feeling ornery because he was starting to feel cornered.
I know we kind of talked about his paranoia and how he’s building up at this point. But at this point on April 1st, you know, just a couple of days before he was killed, was he, was he really feeling cornered at this point? Like the movie suggests
Chris Wimmer: [00:42:05] I don’t think he was feeling any more cornered than what we discussed previously, that it had just been a long buildup.
But there were recent arrests of his gang members. And I would say recent, I mean, within a few months, it wasn’t like in a series of a few days, they just, the cops started circling them up. Like you might see in a movie. Where gang members start dropping, but yes, there were two guys arrested for that Glendale train robbery, one arrested for the robbery in Alabama, like I said, would height is gone.
Dick, a little is gone. Jim Cummins is gone. And that’s part of the reason why you see in the movie, Jesse moves around so often. And in the middle of the night, that stuff is pretty accurate where he has Bob and Charlie help him move from place to place. or he himself just does it in there. He’s always using aliases.
Some version of a name with the word Howard in it. I usually use it the last name, Howard, but he’ll change his first and middle name for his alias every now and then. So by the time he’s in st. Joseph, Missouri, he’s Thomas Howard, like you see in the film, but I don’t think there was anything specifically that happened.
It just in the day or two leading up to the final day of his life.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:43:13] Okay, well, speaking of the final day, we’re at the point in the movie where the assassination itself happens, it’s on April 3rd, 1882. And the day’s plan, according to the movie seems to be that they’re going to leave for the Platte city robbery that they had planned out and.
Things turned sour after reading a newspaper headline about the arrest and confession of Dick little Jesse turns to Robert and says something about how the article says Dick was arrested about three weeks earlier. And that would mean Robert was in that area around the same time. And after that, the three go into the living room.
There’s a lot of tension in the air. Jesse James takes off his gun belt saying something about how he doesn’t want the neighbors to see. Then he notices a picture of a horse hanging at the top of the wall, which I thought was an interesting place for it to be hanging right across and right next to the ceiling.
Any comments about how dusty to picture is grabs a chair to stand up and get it. And while he’s standing on the chair, Charlie pulls out his gun starts pointing at Jesse, but then Robert pulls his gun points and shoots. Jesse James is hitting the back of the head, falls down dead immediately. After this Z James, his wife comes running into the room crying and the two Ford brothers say it was an accident.
The gun just went off. They leave the house and then immediately run to send a telegram to the governor saying that they killed Jesse James. Is that how it happened.
Chris Wimmer: [00:44:34] I’ll give you my shortest answer ever. And that is yes. Wow. That’s basically how it happened. I mean, if I elaborate a little bit, the thing to keep in mind is that there were only three people in that room.
So the version of how it happened comes from Bob and Charlie Ford. They’re the only ones who survived that meeting in the room who were able to tell the story. So we have to take all of it with a grain of salt though, as far as we know. The movie, basically just reenacted what we know of that moment, which of course comes from Bob and Charlie.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:45:08] a great point that we have to believe what they say.
Chris Wimmer: [00:45:12] Yeah. And so it’s the million dollar question is why I guess, and you know, maybe we can, we could talk about that, but yeah, as far as we know, from the actions, that’s accurate to the point that we’re ever going to know
Dan LeFebvre: [00:45:23] one of the things that really struck me about that.
And especially as you mentioned there, where we’re taking this all on the word of Charlie and Robert Ford were the only two that survived. I really got the sense that Jesse James knew what was going to happen. We even see, I think when he stands up there, we can see from Jessie’s point of view that he can see Robert Ford pointing the gun at him in the reflection of the picture.
And he doesn’t seem surprised. And as I mentioned earlier, he actually took his gun off. So he’s unarmed. So I got the idea that he knew that they were going to kill him and he essentially let it happen. Were there any theories that Jesse James maybe knew that he was about to be assassinated and just let it happen?
Chris Wimmer: [00:46:07] It’s hard to say. Were there any, there probably are tons. It’s trying to figure out if this sequence of events is what happened. If you believe that these are the actions that took place in that living room, then yeah. What you’re talking about the theories more come to why? Well, how, why did Jesse allow this to happen?
Well, it was true. As you see it in the film, he famously doesn’t take his guns off. He carries them everywhere. So the idea that he makes this display of taking off his guns in his own living room and uses this weird excuse of saying, he’s afraid that people out in public might see him wearing his guns in his own house.
When one of the things we have just seen right before this is him walking home. With his daughter in his arms wearing his guns. And Bob calls him out on it and saying, do you, do you think it’s wise of you to walk around, carry your guns like that? So he clearly, Jesse clearly doesn’t have a problem wearing his guns wherever and whenever, but suddenly now he takes off his guns and then decides he needs at this very moment to go urgently, clean the dust off this picture, which you kind of get the feeling.
He probably never would have done something like that in his life. probably not the customs of the time probably did all the housework. So the whole sequence is just odd. And so maybe he did though, maybe at the, at this point in his life, he’s tired and weary, which you also see in the film, he seems to be run down and worn out.
And as we’ve talked about a couple of different times, the paranoia. Is huge. He’s lost almost everyone in his life. Maybe he is just done and just decides this is it. He’s just read about that. The rest of Dick Lidl yet another one of his gang members has turned on him. The ramifications from that could be huge.
Maybe he just decided that’s it. I’m done. And this was his way of just easing the tired, the weariness and making it all end.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:48:08] Yeah, I could definitely see how that would be. That’s an entire podcast. It’s talking about the theories and all that, and wow. Yeah. That’s a deep subject to get into.
Chris Wimmer: [00:48:18] Yeah, no question.
This is one of those moments. I guess I started thinking of them as time machine moments. If you had a time machine, you could go back anywhere in time. This is one of the moments that almost certainly. Old West historians would love to go back and see, even in its morbidity, did this really happen this way?
And if so, why, if you could go back in time, would you want to spend the week being the fly on the wall with Jesse James and finding out what really happened in his final week? What was he thinking? What did he say to people that would give us some insight into this last moment? And did it in fact happen like this?
Dan LeFebvre: [00:48:54] Yeah, that would be fascinating to be able to witness that. But until they have a time machine, I guess we’ll just have to never know.
Chris Wimmer: [00:49:00] We’ll just keep speculating. Yeah. Hopefully somebody gets on that time machine real quick. Let’s go. Let’s get that figured out.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:49:07] Well earlier, you mentioned the movie doing a good job of reenacting the assassination, at least as far as the version from Charlie and Robert Ford.
And in the movie, we actually see Charlie and Robert Ford take to the stage, reenacting the assassination as well. The narrator of the film explains that Robert Ford himself said he must’ve reenacted the event over 800 times. And as time went on, We start to see that Charlie’s onstage personality change.
He playing Jesse James, and he starts to act more and more like the real outlaw during one of the performances that we see in the movie, someone in the crowd calls Robert a coward, he yells back at them and then the patron and intendance doesn’t stop is heckling. So Robert jumps off the stage and start beating the man up.
Did they really have a stage show? Reenacting the assassination of Jesse James?
Chris Wimmer: [00:49:58] Yeah, they did. And that’s probably to some degree why, how we think things happen. That stage play is probably somewhat responsible for why we believe how we believe that the final moments of Jesse James happen. So yes they did.
They went on tour reenacting night after night, the assassination of Jesse James, somewhat like you see in the movie and in that little reenactment within the movie, I don’t know for sure if Charlie Charlie’s persona changes throughout the series of reenactments, though, it certainly wouldn’t surprise me because his story does have a tragic end.
So does Bob’s. But as you see in the film and the two sequences where you see those reenactments in the first one, the audience cheers kind of politely, they certainly don’t give it a rousing ovation, but that’s what happened in real life. In New York city, the play was received fairly well, but in Louisville, Kentucky is where the second half of that sequence happens.
Where people booed and jeered and shouted murderer and coward, that stuff really did happen in Louisville. I don’t know if Bob actually jumped down from the stage and went to attack someone, but everything prior to that does happen.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:51:10] That’s interesting. I’m curious. Do we know why. Why they would reenact the assassination.
I mean, earlier in the movie, they talk about turning in Jesse James for the reward and then, you know, they send a telegram letting him know. And so I’m assuming that there was some sort of a reward for killing Jesse James. Okay. This is just my assumption. I don’t remember the movie ever mentioning this at all, but I’m guessing that they didn’t necessarily do the reenactment for the money if they got the reward.
So maybe it was just for the publicity of it all. They wanted their own time in the spotlight.
Chris Wimmer: [00:51:42] Yeah, I think it’s a combination of all those things. And a third thing are those two things and the third thing. So yes, they did receive some of the reward money. They did not get all of the reward money. And I was quickly trying to look it up before we started the interview, but I couldn’t find the exact amount.
I know it’s buried in one of my scripts somewhere. So it was a pretty hefty reward for the James brothers or for Jesse James individually. But Bob and Charlie were forced to split it with several law enforcement officials, which they didn’t count on. They assumed they would receive the entire reward money it’s possible.
They had been led to believe that by the governor, but in the end they got a fraction of the reward. So it’s possible that they wanted to do this re-enactment to make money because they thought it would be a big box office hit. And then almost certainly, probably for Bob’s sake, probably he was interested in the publicity as well.
So there probably was a monetary aspect to it and a publicity aspect. And then the third thing, which again, would seem odd in today’s day and age, but this type of reenactment was fairly common in the old West. This was considered entertainment to people, you know, back then. Live entertainment was all that existed.
So famously, this is how Buffalo bill Rose up the ranks and with his shows and he recruited wild bill Hickok to come out on stage. And re-enact some of his famous events. And especially on the East coast, people found out very quickly. Wild bill Hickok was a terrible actor and Hickock hated doing these things.
These reenactments of famous events were fairly common. So there was probably money, a part of this and publicity, but this was also a practice that happened with a lot of people. So Bob and Charlie were, were somewhat following the form that had already been laid out.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:53:24] As you were saying that it makes me think of it’s like the original.
Movies based on a true story. Right. Except they just didn’t have movies. So it was a live performance based on a real event.
Chris Wimmer: [00:53:35] Yeah. And you get, you got to think of how weird that would have been sitting in the stage in, in an audience, in an auditorium somewhere on the East coast and wild bill. Hickox up on this small stage, trying to reenact something that happened out on the Prairie.
Maybe a battle with native Americans or a gunfight or something. And it just, it would have looked as weird as it looks with POB and Charlie doing this reenactment is very stilted, very crammed into a small space and it just, it would not have had any resemblance of course, to what actually happened, but it was entertainment.
And, you know, you could either read a book or watch a live performance of music or watch a live stage play. That was where basically your three options for entertainment in the 1870s.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:54:17] Well earlier, you mentioned the tragedy that happens at the end of Charlie and Robert’s lives. And at the end of the movie, we find out a few different things.
One is they seem to regret what they did. The movie mentions that Charlie wrote letters to Jessie’s widows Z asking for her forgiveness, but he never actually sent them. We do see Charlie commit suicide. Then Roberts in the movie at least admitted to a woman named Dorothy Evans, that he was ashamed of his boasting and he truly regretted killing Jesse James.
He missed the man that he once looked up to. And then the very end of course, we see that Robert Ford is killed by someone named Edward Kelley. Do we know if the Ford brothers regretted what they had done and is the movie showing the end of the story correctly?
Chris Wimmer: [00:55:05] Yeah, mostly, I don’t know if we can speak truly to the mindset of either Bob or Charlie, but I think what ended up happening to them can probably give us some insight into the way they were thinking even, even in Bob’s special case, which is very odd.
You know, I referenced earlier that Bob had never really committed a crime with a gang, but it’s possible that if he did shoot would height in his sister’s home, they’re in Martha Bolton’s home. That could have been the first crime he committed. And then his second might’ve been shooting Jesse James. So if those were his only two real crimes committed in life, they’re pretty big ones.
And so it’s possible that Charlie or that Bob did grow to regret his actions and he had a difficult life afterwards. His actions followed him throughout and he might’ve thought someone like John Wilkes booth after he assassinated president Lincoln, that he would be hailed as this hero for bringing down this wanted criminal.
But table’s quickly turned on him and he was haunted by and dogged by the reality of having killed Jesse James for the rest of his life. It followed him everywhere. He went. And before I get to the end of his story, Charlie probably did express more regret. He does have a little more of a tragic end where like you see in the film, he does sink into a very dark place.
He became addicted to morphine and eventually came down with tuberculosis. And then in 1884, just two years after almost exactly two years after the death of Jesse James, he shoots himself in the chest. So that part is accurate. Charlie did sink into this dark depressed place and killed himself. And then Bob goes on to a series of different cities after there’s stairs there, stage play wraps up and he does eventually end up in Creede, Colorado.
And a man named Edward Kelly, or sometimes Edward O. Kelly in, depending on the source, they’ll put an O in there. And so it’s hard to tell exactly what his name was, but Edward Kelly or Edward Kelley does shoot Bob Ford with a shotgun in Bob saloon that he runs there and Creede, Colorado. That moment specifically the very end of the film and the end of Bob’s life, where this guy, ed Edward Kelly, where Edward Kelley walks in.
It says hello, Bob, and then shoots Bob Ford with a shotgun is particularly interesting to me because that almost identical situation happens in the story of Billy, the kid with somewhat of the roles reversed, where Billy shoots a guy who has a lawman who’s been after him for a while with a shotgun and famously startles him by saying the words, hello, Bob.
And then pulls the triggers and kills this guy. And so I’ve, I’ve always wondered if this moment, if that’s really how it happened, or if those two stories ended up getting mixed up together, that Billy supposedly said, hello, Bob to this guy before shooting with a shotgun and Edward Kelley ends up saying almost identical language and shooting Bob Ford with a shotgun.
So I’ll never know. That’s just one of my little suspicions, but yeah, that’s basically how it happened. They were, again, pretty accurate with the end of the film.
Dan LeFebvre: [00:58:11] One thing that we don’t really see in the end of the movie is what happens to Jesse’s wife, XE James, and their two children. Do we know what happened with them after the assassination?
Chris Wimmer: [00:58:19] Yeah. I don’t know a ton about the very end of their story, but in the immediate aftermath, there’s an aspect of this that maybe plays into Jesse’s mindset. And as you somewhat see at the end of the film, people swarm the James home. They flood to the James House. And of course law enforcement is there trying to figure out what’s going on.
The house quickly turns into a tourist attraction, the place where Jesse James was killed. So in the immediate aftermath of the assassination XE and her two children go stay at a hotel that’s right around the corner and their lives of course get turned upside down. And one of the aspects that I’m not sure people really think about it and they don’t really touch on it in the film.
Is that up until this point Jesse’s kids have believed their last name is Howard. They’ve been living under aliases, their entire lives, and they’re very young still, but they think their last name is Howard and they have no idea who their father really is. So the first conversation XE has to have with her kids is, Hey, sorry.
Your name isn’t Howard. Your father. Isn’t Thomas Howard. He’s really Jesse James and here’s who and what? Jesse. James was. So that’s the first conversation she has to have with her children. And then this is the part, this may be factors in the Jessie’s mindset because he basically left them destitute. He had no money at the end of his life whenever he had money, he spent it.
And so, you know, the idea that. Maybe he was ready to go by the end of his life. This could be an element that pushes back on that idea because he certainly didn’t have this life insurance policy or something like that, that he could have left to his kids. He didn’t have a nest egg, he didn’t have thousands of dollars stuck under the mattress or anything like that.
So if he decided at the end of his story, that it’s just his time to go. He left his family with nothing. So Zee was forced to sell all their possessions to make money. So they began a life of struggle after that because he leaves him with nothing. And of course, she’s now the famous widow of Jesse James and her kids grew up to live somewhat difficult lives early on.
Although if you fast forward the story toward the end, Jesse James son ends up playing his father, Jesse James in the first movie about Jesse James. That that comes out when the, when the film industry starts. And this is in the early twenties, Jesse James with JC James jr. Basically is what we’ll call them.
He ends up playing Jesse James senior in the first film depiction of his father. So, so you, it ends up working in Hollywood to some degree too, a little bit. At the end of his life. So that’s what I can tell you about what happened in the immediate aftermath and then fast forwarding a little bit.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:01:02] You actually answered that the two primary questions that I had about that, which cause I do remember the narrator at the very beginning of the movie mentioned that his kids didn’t even know his name.
I think that was the only mention there. And so there was that aspect of it, but then also, yeah, some of that, why mindset, if Jesse, James really did know that they were going to assassinate him and let it happen while in my mind, just for, you know, from watching the movie, the sense that I got was even, you know, even though he was a vicious outlaw, he loved his wife and kids.
And so he would have set them up with something like he would have had some sort of a nest egg or something. If he had known that this was going to happen, it would. I don’t know. It just, I guess makes sense to me that a husband and father would make sure that his family is taken care of. If he knows that this is going to happen.
Chris Wimmer: [01:01:52] Yeah. I want to believe that as well. Exactly. I feel the same way. It sounds like he was a doting father and he’d been in love with XE forever. They, they met when they were kids and they were technically or legally cousins, I guess I should say she was the daughter of Jesse’s step uncle. I believe. So her disease father was the brother of Jesse’s mother’s third husband.
So I know there’s going to be very convoluted, but there are ways to make it much more sense. So they’re technically related, but they’re not related by blood. And so they meet during the civil war. When Jesse, you hear in the film, Jesse has been shot twice in the chest. He was shot two times toward the end of the civil war.
Both times he was taken to his stepfather’s uncle’s house in Kansas city to recover where Zee was living. So Z cared for him. During both times when he was convalescing for bullet wounds. And during that second convalescence, during that second recovery period is when they really began to fall in love when they were both basically kids.
So they’ve essentially been together for their entire lives. And so the idea that he decided to. And the things in this way, at this time, without making any allowances for his family is probably a little bit difficult to believe. But at the same time, you know, he, he never really was one to save anything.
He had it, he spent it. So it’s all, it’s hard to tell. It’s just, it’s another mystery that we may never know the answer to.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:03:23] I’m still waiting on that time machine.
Chris Wimmer: [01:03:25] I know. So please somebody, please figure it out.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:03:28] But thank you so much for your time to come on, to chat about the assassination of Jesse James by the coward.
Robert Ford. I know you went into a lot more detail on Jesse James for your podcast. So can you give someone listening a little more information about your show and where to find it?
Chris Wimmer: [01:03:42] Yeah, I actually host and produced two shows. The one that specifically deals with Jesse James is called legends of the old West.
I actually have done the story of Jesse James twice, and that’s a whole, that’s a whole saga in and of itself. But there’s plenty of Jesse James material on the legends of the old West podcast, where I go into a lot of detail about all these things. And you can see the whole timeline of Jesse’s life and career.
When you can go into as much detail as you want. And then the other one is called infamous America, which is similar. And that’s kind of where I was pulling some of that. Billy, the kid referenced that deals with anything in anyone in American history that’s considered infamous. So we did the story of John Wilkes booth and Billy the kid on that.
Podcast as well. So the infamous America podcast and the legends of the old West and get your American history fix.
Dan LeFebvre: [01:04:28] Thanks again so much for your time, Chris.
Chris Wimmer: [01:04:30] Thank you, Dan.