The Frida Cinema

Orange County's Year-Round Film Festival

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

The Assassination of Jesse James poster

January’s Volunteer of the Month is Sam Feldstein, who has chosen to program the revisionist Western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford!

Adapted from the novel by Ron Hansen, the film explores the relationship between the two outlaws. Ford (Casey Affleck), enamored by the nearly mythic exploits of James (Brad Pitt), takes it upon himself to join his gang. As the two carry out robberies together and become closer, tension rises and ultimately culminates in the now-legendary death of James.

Part character study and part elegy for the American West, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford features powerhouse performances from both Pitt and Affleck as well as Oscar-nominated cinematography by Roger Deakins.


“Brad Pitt plays James with a tired-eyed, authoritative understanding of fame’s traps (he won the acting prize at the Venice Film Festival for his work), and a revelatory Casey Affleck brings Ford to life with a mature sense of an underling’s craven, fawning petulance.” — Lisa Schwartzbaum, Entertainment Weekly

“There are things about men, horses and horizons that are uniquely suited to the wide screen. We see that here. The Western has been mostly in hibernation since the 1970s, but now I sense it stirring in rebirth. . . Now here is another Western in the classical tradition.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

“Mournful and moody, crepuscular and poetic, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford turns one of cinema’s most rehearsed tales into a dreamy inquiry into the nature of sadism, hero-worship, and betrayal.” — Shawn Levy, The Oregonian

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford
The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.