Most of us are familiar with the famous outlaw Jesse James and probably watched a few movies about him. One such was the 1921 Under the Black Flag, the rare classic Western film that saw Jesse’ own son Jesse James Jr. play his character. For those of us not very familiar with the legend, Jesse James was a real-life outlaw, as well as folk hero, who lived between the years 1847-1882 and was the leader of the James-Younger gang, a notorious gang. One of the most recent depictions was in the recent Brad Pitt film, The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.
The story is based on the life of a young Jesse James Jr. who lived on the family farm near Kearney, Missouri. Jesse joins the Quantrill’s Missouri Guerillas and swears oath to their Black Flag as he goes on a retaliation mission from the actions of an unscrupulous railroad industry backed by the local law enforcement. The lead agent of the constructors tries to arm-twist Jesse’s mother into signing an unfavorable deed that lets her relinquish control of her land to the railroad at a loss. Jesse’ brother beats the agent in a fair fight which sees the agent come to him with a scythe which prompts Jesse to shoot him in the arm hence turning the two peasant boys into fugitives.