Today, September 21st, marks the 10th anniversary for the release of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007). Directed by Andrew Dominik, and starring Brad Pitt and Casey Affleck as James and Ford, respectively, the film was based on the Ron Hansen 1983 novel of the same name. Set in the last year of the Missouri outlaw’s life, the movie is a meditative work upon such themes as fame, friendship, regret, and myth-making. With cinematography by Roger Deakins, and a haunting and soundtrack led by Nick Cave, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford is a rich film that rewards repeating viewings.

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In addition to the two stars, the movie features a strong ensemble cast that includes the late Sam Shepard, Jeremy Renner, Sam Rockwell, Garret Dillahunt, Mary-Louise Parker, and Zooey Deschanel. Casey Affleck and Roger Deakins both received Academy Award nominations for their work; Affleck for Supporting Actor, and Deakins for Cinematography. Here is one trailer for the film:

The final release version of The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford was 2 hours & 40 minutes, but there was in fact one 4-hour edit. Brad Pitt has stated that the 4-hour version allowed even more character development. The version released has grown in both critical and audience support in the past ten years, with even a recent revival movement to see the film placed into the programs of repertory movie houses.

This writer has written extensively on this site about the film and recommends the following initial links for those wishing to read more about The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford:

Jesse James in Melancholy Light / Film Poetry / Extra Scenes from TAoJJ

As a final thought, it has been argued that there is an audience for the expanded edit, hinted at by Pitt, of this powerful film. Many supporters of the movie have hoped that Warner Bros., the film’s distributor, would release the 4-hour version in this 10th anniversary year. That hope remains.

(Copyright – Chad Beharriell)

(Featured image on home page via


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