This Week's Script Cavalcade: The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

Newly acquired in the Foundation Library collection is the screenplay The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford written by Andrew Dominik. It’s a slow-burning and atmospheric read of the highest caliber. Dominik takes a historical outlaw and heaps layers and layers of complexity, tacit tension, and somehow humanizes an almost irredeemable and nigh mythological figure. The script is measured and minces no spare words. Each scene wrings optimum emotional impact and the implied conflict escalates with a slouched subtlety and ruffian rawness that is very in keeping with the screenplay’s subject and tonal themes. The script’s use of regional language and vernacular is testament to the writer’s singular ear for dialogue. The words drip off the characters’ tongues like molasses and the sometimes elevated parlance is particularly jarring when juxtaposed against the extreme instances of casual violence that these characters commit. The screenwriter understands and employs these contradictions to great effect. And manages to find an effective mixture of menace and Appalachian erudition.

A dulcet example:

Andrew Dominik kicks the dust off auld Western tropes and strips the legacy of the genre to its bare bones. The script redresses the weary norms and motifs of conventional westerns and confounds readers with something newfound and unique. The Assassination of Jesse James is a screenplay that elicits several insightful lessons in pacing, inducing sympathy for despicable characters, and, most importantly, speaking volumes via scene-stealing silences.

Assassination is a fine script. Cold-blooded and calculating in execution.

Gallop on over and have a gander.

Also new:

  • The screenplay for the 2002 neo-noir crime thriller The Salton Sea by Tony Gayton.
  • The screenplay for Ebbe Roe Smith’s 1993 Los Angeles thriller Falling Down.
  • A slew of episodes from HBO comedy Vice Principals.
  • A hodge-podge of Boston Legal episodes from season two.

For further details on recent additions, we invite you to sift through our online catalog that is ever expanding daily.