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This review relates to the Finnish blu-ray version. I was rather pleased with this rather unusual find. There aren’t too many blu-ray versions of the more obscure westerns around! In fact you do quite well to find standard Region 2 DVD’s most of the time! This one comes from Finland where they presumably still like their westerns on those long cold winters nights, amongst other things! This one is titled “Ryovarit”, which seems a very short translation of “The Great Northfield Minnesota “. I prefer this title whatever it means! There are no extras. It only offers optional Danish, Swedish and Finnish subtitles. The picture quality as you would expect is a cut above the usual foreign western DVD’s.

The film takes a novel approach to the Jesse James legend by concentrating on that one famous ill fated raid in Northfield Minnesota, where those good ol boys encountered a few irate townsfolk. It is a sensible route to take as just about everything else about the James gang had already been done. Even so, there was more to come! This one takes the brutal seventies ‘mud and rags’ demythologising of the west a step further than the Hollywoodised “The Long Riders” and even the fascinating “The Assassination of Jesse James by the horrid dirty rotten snivelling little coward Bob Ford”.

It is all surprisingly well realised. Northfield looks very similar to the Northfield of the old photos. It was in fact filmed in Jacksonville Oregon. The attention to period detail is heart warming. The events that take place are loosely based on the actual raid. If you are a stickler for historical accuracy, then this film will fall short of your expectations. That said it gives a good idea of how confusion and chaos can quickly descend on the best laid plans of mice and men. The cast is excellent. Cliff Robertson is a standout Cole Younger, who knows how to spin a yarn. One of his better performances! His unusual line in body armour does not seem up to Kevlar standards! Robert Duvall is darkly funny as a murderous spiritually charged Jesse James. Peckinpah stalwart R G Armstrong catches the eye as a gang member. Those distinctive character actors Elisha Cook jnr and Royal Dano also appear in small roles. It is a refreshingly original take on the legend, and one that I enjoyed very much. A bargain buy for a blu-ray, and astonishingly quick delivery from Finland! Well pleased!
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on 3 September 2008
This is a terrific film, but often overlooked in favour of The Long Riders, covering pretty much the same character relationships. Cliff Robertson and Robert Duvall are superb in the lead roles, as Cole Younger and Jesse James respectively. Younger is portrayed as a thoughtful, intelligent, even likeable but rascally outlaw, whilst Duvall's Jesse James is suitable creepy and devious. This film really explodes a few myths, and the broody photography and characteristaion, right through the entire supporting cast, makes for a wonderful ensemble piece of cinema. I believe it was made for TV but is surprisingly (though not gratuitously) violent and explicit - people actually suffer when shot, rather than falling over in a dignified manner and gentlemanly manner! This really is a good film, whether you like Westerns or not!
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on 25 February 2010
This 1972 western charts the later days of the Cole Younger/Jesse James gang. After briefly breaking apart the gangs unite for what they think will be one last big bank heist.
I enjoyed this western and thought it well directed and acted. Cliff Robertson and Robert Duvall made great leads and the supporting cast was impressive too. You will recognise many familiar faces from Sam Peckinpah westerns. It had some quite surreal imagery at times that I liked and good action too. The action scenes don't come too regularly but when they do come are gritty, exciting and violent. I don't think this has had as much exposure as it deserves over the years so its a lesser known western. If you like westerns you won't be disappointed.
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on 5 October 2014
What a load of tosh this film is. I thought it was a comedy - it certainly made me laugh a few times. I love Western history and have read many books on the Northfield raid written by historians that have researched in depth and I can honestly say that there is very little truth in this film. They show Chadwell for instance being locked in the banks vault by the tellers and then shot when they opened the vault when in fact he was shot on horseback and died in the street. Jim Younger was shown prior to the raid wearing a ridiculous false mustache to cover a bullet scarred injury to his mouth which is utter nonsense - he got that injury during the bank raid NOT before! I am a bit of a stickler for truth and it annoys me when they alter the story and make a stupid film when they have the capability of recreating something as it happened.Its a typical 1970's 'Smith and Jones' type of Western - lots of silly and weird things goings on. Actually an insult to Northfield and the Outlaws themselves.- they should lynch the producer!! :) If you want to read a really good well researched book on the subject try: "Shot All To Hell" by Mark Gardner - then you will realise what rubbish this film is.
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on 7 May 2015
Read the original reports of the events penned at the time, then watch this movie. It is extreemly accurate and delivered in a semi documentary style. Robert Duval is one of my famorite actors and even as a younger man still delivers a very mature performance.
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on 20 June 2014
A movie more recent than the other westerns issued by 101 films. Again in colour, and another take on Jesse James and his fellow outlaws and relations. If you enjoy westerns with a grain of truth you will enjoy this.
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on 24 February 2016
The career of Philip Kaufman has been an intermittent one - in half a century of directing, he has made remarkably few films, and not many of them have been hits. But his originality and wit, and his distinctive way at looking at heroism, deserve to be better-known and are very well demonstrated in this too-little-seen western from 1972, which breathed new life and energy into the genre. The story of the Jesse James gang - and of their disastrous raid on a bank in Minnesota (hundreds of miles out of their usual territory) - has been told innumerable times in the cinema, but never like this. Jesse (Robert Duvall) is, in this telling, a raving moon-looney, a hypocrite on a monstrous scale, and a man in love with killing (anyone); this film also finds a way to contemplate the outrageous, little-publicised legend that he was a transvestite. He claims to have had a divine vision that the Northfield bank must be the site of his next raid, and the Younger boys, anxious to take advantage of an apparent amnesty coming their way, ride after him purely to dissuade him. The raid goes ahead when they learn that the amnesty is a fraud, and that the Pinkerton detectives on their tail want, not to capture them, but to kill them. In this film, lines between right and wrong are blurred in the extreme, but Kaufman, who also wrote the inventive script, isn't concerned with censoriousness - he presents us with a vivid portrait of a burgeoning America in its centennial year, a place where anything can happen and does. There's more relish than rage in this portrait, and the film is immensely, blackly funny. Duvall enjoys himself hugely as the awful Jesse, but the film finally belongs to Cliff Robertson as Cole Younger, a man who, far from regarding himself as an anachronism in a changing world (like so many cowboys in 70s movies), looks forward to the new century and all the "wonderments" it will bring. A wrap-up narration at the end reveals that he alone, of all the film's appalling "heroes", lived to see it. The supporting cast is full of familiar faces in richly-realised, if often brief, roles - R.G. Armstrong, Elisha Cook Jr., Luke Askew and John Pearce all distinguish themselves, and the look of the film (the cameraman is Bruce Surtees) is something special.
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on 12 November 2009
this ain't a bad film but i found it a little slow for my likeing , the cast is good , a very convincing bunch of baddies indeed but because its based on the true story of their last bank raid it lacks a bit of action on route to the finale . still it was quite interesting to see what happened to these outlaws and if anything the law was even more reckless in those wild west days.
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on 7 June 2014
saw this movie years ago on tv and have been looking forward to having it in my collection of westerns
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on 1 May 2015
I was looking forward to seeing this again remembering it fondly when it came out (1972),but was disappointed,I dont think its worn well. The cast is first rate Cliff Robertson as Cole Younger and Robert Duvall as Jesse James and it looks "authentic", in its day it was considered a"revisionist" western,gritty and realistic,but I think its been overshadowed by the likes of the "Long Riders" and the more recent Brad Pitt take on the Jesse James legend.
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