Other Cowboy Stars — Tom Tyler in “I Shot Jesse James”

October 8, 2011

Sam Fuller went and made himself a B-Western.  It was in 1949 and John Ireland rocked it.  John Ireland = awesome.  And such a great film.  Unlike Andrew Dominik’s “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford,” where the film builds towards Jesse’s murder and his death scene happens near the end of the picture, Robert Ford (Ireland) plugs Jesse in the first reel, and spends the rest of the film dealing with it.

Fuller worked within genres, making genre films, but never the standard fare, and this one sports a narrative structure that is odd and refreshing and winding and disjointed and at 81 minutes feels like an epic.   It’s hard to know how it’s going to end…

…until Tom Tyler shows up at minute 73 of that 81.

Here comes the avenging figure of Tom Tyler as Frank James!

But no, he’s barely there for three lines of dialogue before he gets the knock-out punch from Preston Foster.

In an almost immediate twist, he’s acquitted and lays one heavy heavy line on Bob Ford.  “I don’t have to kill you.  But I’m going to tell you something that will kill you.  You’re aiming to marry Cynthy.  When you put your lips up close to hers, she’ll be kissing you but she’ll be thinking of Kelley.   It’s you she’s sorry for but it’s him she wants.”

And with that, he backs out of the saloon and out of the picture.

Total screen time.  Under three minutes.

Love these cowboy stars and their later roles.  So satisfying knowing that Tyler was the veteran of over 140 films at the time of this brief but rich appearance, many of them as the lead.

(I did mention that John Ireland was awesome in this, didn’t I?)

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One Response to “Other Cowboy Stars — Tom Tyler in “I Shot Jesse James””

  1. I am really impressed with your writing skills as well as with the layout on your blog.

    Is this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself? Anyway keep up the excellent quality writing, it’s rare to see a great blog like this one today.

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