Fuller's first film is a virtual illustration of his dictum that the cinema is like a battleground: 'Love, hate, action, violence, death...in one word, Emotion.' Having to choose between loyalty to the past and a love for Jesse James (Hadley), or a desire for a future and the love of a woman, Fuller's outlaw hero Bob Ford (Ireland) makes the wrong choice. He shoots James, only to discover that his whole life has become defined by this deed: doomed to re-enact the murder on stage, and condemned to notoriety in 'The Ballad of Jesse James'. His vision of the future fades into jealousy, economic hardship and, as Phil Hardy has pointed out, 'misplaced love'. As such, more a psychological drama (emphasised by the use of close-up) than a Western, and a highly original film.