Alias Jesse James

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Outlaw T.J. “Jesse” James tries to kill insurance agent Milford Farnsworth, who has been mistaken for him in order to collect on a big policy.

ACTORS :  Bob Hope, Rhonda Fleming, Wendell Corey

YEAR OF RELEASE :  1959

POSTAGE : Free postage within Australia

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Alias Jesse James Inept insurance salesman Milford Farnsworth sells a man a $100,000 policy. When his boss learns the man was Jesse James he sends Milford after him with money to buy back the policy. After a masked Jesse robs Milford of the money, Milford’s boss heads out with more money. Jesse learns about it and plans to rob him, have Milford dressed as him get killed in the robbery, and then collect the $100,000. This town ain’t big enough for both of us !

USER REVIEW

Funny film with dated cameos.

Alias Jesse James  Bob Hope plays his usual dimwitted cluck who in this film happens to be an insurance salesman. Only Hope, one step from being given the boot and desperate to sell a policy, would sell one to Jesse James. Jesse being the smart guy he is decides this has potentiality. He can fake his own death and lay low for a while with a nice nest egg. Bank robbery, train robbery, his usual line of work does have some risk attached to it. Now guess who the schnook he figures he’ll bump off to be the dead Jesse James? Why its Hope come west to protect Jesse until the home office figures a way to cancel the policy.

I saw this in the movies way back when I was 12 years old and it first came out. As such I appreciated fully the significance of the cameo appearances of all those TV western stars. TV westerns were at their height at that time so anyone who saw this knew for instance that Ward Bond was Major Seth Adams of Wagon Train. Today, I wager, that viewers will recognize Bond as Bert the Cop from It’s A Wonderful Life unless Wagon Train is being run on Hallmark at the time. Similarly Gail Davis as Annie Oakley or Hugh O’Brian as Wyatt Earp (a show I wish some cable channel would pick up). Nice gag, but dated now.

Nevertheless its a very funny picture with the lovely Rhonda Fleming as Jesse’s girl and beneficiary until she falls for Hope. So many smart women keep falling for Hope the schnook in his films. Wendell Corey is a crafty Jesse James with Jim (Dallas) Davis as brother Frank. And of course the obligatory appearance by Bing Crosby.

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