The Great Northfield Minnesota Raid is a 1972 Technicolor Western film about the James-Younger Gang distributed by Universal Pictures. It was directed by Philip Kaufman in a cinéma vérité style and starred Cliff Robertson as Cole Younger, Robert Duvall as Jesse James, Luke Askew as Jim Younger, R. G. Armstrong as Clell Miller, John Pearce as Frank James, and Matt Clark as Bob Younger. The film purports to recreate the James-Younger Gang's most infamous escapade, the September 7, 1876, robbery of "the biggest bank west of the Mississippi" inNorthfield, Minnesota.
In the mid-1870s, outlaws Jesse James, Cole Younger and their brothers are granted amnesty by the Missouri legislature, sympathetic to the troubles created for all citizens by the Civil War. The bankers victimized by the James and Younger gangs are vehemently opposed to this action and hire a Pinkerton agent to follow the outlaws' every move.
Younger has put aside plans to rob a bank in Northfield, Minnesota, said to be the largest west of the Mississippi River. The job appeals, however, to Jesse and Frank James, who have no intention of changing the way they make a living.
Cole is ambushed by the Pinkerton's agent men, who use a prostitute as bait. And when the bankers succeed in overturning the amnesty by bribing the politicians, Cole travels by train to Minnesota to check out the bank.
Once there, Cole discovers that townspeople are unwilling to risk placing their money in the bank due to concerns over its safety from thieves. Jesse, Frank, and their men arrive on horseback and, together with Cole, persuade the locals that a gold shipment is on its way, being delivered to the bank because it is supposed to be the safest possible place for it.
Once the citizens begin banking their money, the robbery commences. Many things go wrong though, including one outlaw being locked inside a vault. Younger and his men flee to a nearby farm, but a posse tracks and apprehends them. The James brothers get away. But, when Jesse mentions to Frank his intention to permit Bob Ford to join the gang back in Missouri, his fate is sealed.
- Cliff Robertson as Cole Younger
- Robert Duvall as Jesse James
- Luke Askew as Jim Younger
- R.G. Armstrong as Clell Miller
- Dana Elcar as Allen
- Donald Moffat as Manning
- John Pearce as Frank James
- Matt Clark as Bob Younger
- Wayne Sutherlin as Charley Pitts
- Robert H. Harris as Wilcox
- Jack Manning as Heywood
- Elisha Cook Jr. as Bunker (as Elisha Cook)
- Royal Dano as Gustavson
- Mary-Robin Redd as Kate
- William Callaway as Calliopist (as Bill Calloway)
- Valda Hansen as Nude girl (as Valda J. Johnson)
- Jennifer Gan as Abbie (uncredited)