• The ever fascinating saga of Frank and Jesse James gets another treatment and a good one in Frank&Jesse starring Bill Paxton and Rob Lowe as the James Brothers.

    I've seen and reviewed now three films about the James brothers and their gang, Jesse James, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, and now Frank&Jesse. It's interesting to me how similar the characters are in all the films.

    Jesse is the hardened bitter outlaw who may have started with justifiable reasons on his outlaw career, but has taken to the criminal life and likes it. And it brings out the bad points of his character as well. Whether played by Tyrone Power, Brad Pitt, or Rob Lowe, Jesse is given the same interpretation.

    As is Frank the charmer of the two brothers. Whether laconic charming like Henry Fonda or pretty garrulous as Bill Paxton does him, he's apparently the public relations man for the gang.

    The characters of the Younger Brothers are brought in here as well with country singer Randy Travis giving an outstanding portrayal of Cole Younger. In real life Younger like Frank James lived to a ripe old age way after the action in this film.

    Jesse is the king of outlaws, his reputation against fighting the railroads has made him notorious enough for Allan Pinkerton to be employed to take him down. Jesse is a wily one and after Pinkerton's nephew Tom Chick is killed in an attempt to arrest Jesse, it becomes a personal crusade for Pinkerton.

    As much as I liked the rest of the cast, the best in the film is William Atherton as the dedicated Allan Pinkerton. He's determined to use any means to bring Jesse and the gang and I do mean ANY.

    The wives have their moments also with Dana Wheeler-Nicholson as Frank's wife Annie and Maris Pitillo as Jesse's wife Zee. Pitillo's performance is hardly like the one by Nancy Kelly in the 20th Century Fox classic. She saves Jesse's bacon on one memorable occasion in the film.

    Frank&Jesse is one very good western which should have received a lot more attention than it did.