Samuel Fuller

I Shot Jesse James

I Shot Jesse James

After years of crime reporting, screenwriting, and authoring pulp novels, Samuel Fuller made his directorial debut with the lonesome ballad of Robert Ford (played by Red River’s John Ireland), who fatally betrayed his friend, the notorious Jesse James. At once modest and intense, I Shot Jesse James is an engrossing pocket portrait of guilt and psychological torment, and an auspicious beginning for the maverick filmmaker.

Film Info

  • United States
  • 1949
  • 81 minutes
  • Black & White
  • 1.33:1
  • English

Available In

Collector's Set

Eclipse Series 5: The First Films of Samuel Fuller

The First Films of Samuel Fuller

DVD Box Set

3 Discs


I Shot Jesse James
Preston Foster
John Kelley
Barbara Britton
Cynthy Waters
John Ireland
Robert Ford
Reed Hadley
Jesse James
J. Edward Bromberg
Victor Kilian
Tom Tyler
Frank James
Eddie Dunn
Margia Dean
Saloon singer
Robin Short
Byron Foulger
Room clerk
Tom Noonan
Charles Ford
Samuel Fuller
Samuel Fuller
Executive producer
Robert L. Lippert
Carl K. Hittleman
Ernest Miller
Special effects
Ray Mercer
Art direction
Frank Hotalins
Albert Glasser
Katharine Glasser
Paul Landres


Juice, with Lots of Pulp: Samuel Fuller’s Brainquake
Juice, with Lots of Pulp: Samuel Fuller’s Brainquake

A review of the American auteur’s posthumously published novel

By Michael Atkinson


Samuel Fuller

Writer, Director

Samuel Fuller
Samuel Fuller

Crime reporter, freelance journalist, pulp novelist, screenwriter, World War II infantryman—Samuel Fuller was a jack of all trades before the high-school dropout directed his first film at age thirty-six. But once he was contacted by Poverty Row producer Robert L. Lippert, a fan of his writing, Fuller was turned on to cinema—his true calling. A singularly audacious visionary of the B-movie variety, Fuller would make muscular, minuscule pictures, starting with the one-two-three punch of I Shot Jesse James, The Baron of Arizona, and The Steel Helmet—the last a raw Korean War saga that was one of the few films of the period to address racism in America. Soon after, Fuller was scooped up by Twentieth Century Fox, but he was able to maintain his purposefully crude, elegantly stripped-down style and teeth-bared cynicism for such studio efforts as Fixed Bayonets! and Pickup on South Street. Eventually, Fuller returned to independent filmmaking, and in the sixties (after his artistic cred had been given a shot in the arm by the French New Wavers’ embrace of him as a major stylistic influence), he directed two of his most acclaimed titles, the pulpy and profound Shock Corridor and The Naked Kiss, both corrosive satires of American culture. Even in his career’s twilight, Fuller didn’t shy away from controversy: his early eighties social horror film White Dog was shelved by the studio for more than a decade due to its provocative, bloody investigation of American racism.