5 reasons why The Assassination of Jesse James is an underrated classic

Each Monday, film fan and champion of the downtrodden Jordan Sims picks out an overlooked gem or unfairly maligned masterpiece – and gives them the spotlight they so dearly deserve.

This week, it’s the turn of gritty modern western The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford. Here are five reasons why it’s an underrated classic.

1. It’s Brad Pitt’s favourite role


Despite the many blockbuster performances that we have come to expect from Pitt, he himself confessed that his role as Jesse James is his personal favourite. This classy pick from the Hollywood titan goes some way to justifying the movie’s ‘underratedness’, and sends Fight Club obsessors into fits of rage in which they punch themselves on the street…. no doubt.

2. It has the approval of the James bloodline


Jesse James’ living descendants claim that, of all the films made about the iconic outlaw’s life, this is the most accurate. Although this augments the film’s reliability, it’ hard to imagine how the James family could know this without being time travelling movie critics.

3. The attention to detail


To pay homage to James’ famous finger impediment, the top half of Pitt’s middle finger on his left hand was erased in every single scene, by hand, one by one. I’m sure the FX department couldn’t wait to get started on that task.

4. The humble crew


Despite having two production designers, the end credits for the film would only allow one name to be listed. In a show of solidarity for the work, both designers (Patricia Norris and Richard Hoover) decided to forfeit their credits, performing the greatest show of sportsmanship since Spartacus.

5. The lengthy title was essential


Brad Pitt felt that the unusual title of the film was so essential to its style, that he had a clause forced into his contract that it could not be changed. Understanding like this is perhaps what our broken movie industry is missing these days. If only Zac Effron had had High School Musical renamed ‘Girl and Boy Sing, Fall in Love, and Ultimately Do Nothing of Interest’.

More underrated classics

Without a Paddle
Grave of the Fireflies
The Adventures of Tintin
The Invention Of Lying
The Room
The Money Pit
Starship Troopers

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