The Return of Frank James
Fritz Lang (1940)

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1940, 92 MINS, US

  • Dir: Fritz Lang
  • Prod: Kenneth Macgowan
  • Scr: Sam Hellman
  • Ph: George Barnes, William V. Skall
  • Ed: Walter Thompson
  • Mus: David Buttolph
  • Art Dir: Richard Day, Wiard B. Ihnen

    CAST:

  • Henry Fonda
  • Gene Tierney
  • Jackie Cooper
  • John Carradine
  • Henry Hull
  • J. Edward Bromberg

    (20th Century-Fox)



  • Click here to buy posters!
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    Jesse James, under the sponsorship of 20th Century-Fox, was murdered a year ago by those cowards, the Ford brothers. This season, with vengeance rankling in his breast, Jesse's older brother, Frank, returns to even the score. That he does, in obedience to Sam Hellmann's script, but it's pretty slow stuff in the telling. Frank's no cinematic match for Jesse, which appears to be Will Hays' fault more than anyone else's. Rule 15a in the book is that a bad man can't be a hero. Which leaves Hellman in the paradoxical position of having Frank's responsible for deaths of three men who never so much as tasted a single slug from his six shooter. Effort to put wings on Frank is too much. Angelic aspect bogs the plot and instead of flying it can do no better than plod for a slow 92 minutes.

    From standpoint of production and cast, Darryl Zanuck has spared nary a horse. It's filled with ah-evoking outdoor scenes and nostalgically-impressive western streets and indoor sets. Henry Fonda, underplaying Jesse James' older brother, Frank, in typical quiet style, is impressive; Jackie Cooper, as his kid buddy, shows a maturing dramatic sense although the pout is still there; Henry Hull, as a southern newspaper editor, overacts like no one else can, but is tremendously appealing despite it; John Carradine is a duly hissable villian as Bob Ford; J. Edward Bromberg earns laughs as a dumb railroad detective; and Donald Meek, Eddie Collins and George Barbier are, as usual, good for smiles.

    Only member of the cast with whom fault can be found is Gene Tierney, making her film debut. Tierney's plenty pretty but for oomph she just isn't. Playing the role of a naive gal reporter to whom Fran takes a fancy, she seems to just lack what it takes to make an impression on the screen.


    3 STARS OUT OF 5



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    fritz lang dvds




    fritz lang videos





    the return of frank james

    dvds | videos

    al pacino | michelle pfeiffer

    yul brynner | christopher plummer | romy schneider

    the godfather | the godfather part ii
    marlon brando | james caan | diane keaton | al pacino
    laurence olivier | clark gable | vivien leigh | leslie howard | alfred hitchcock | robert montgomery | grace kelly
    olivia de havilland | humphrey bogart | howard hawks | frank capra | charlie chaplin | lauren bacall | fritz lang
    jean harlow | greta garbo | ava gardner | audrey hepburn | edward g. robinson | john garfield
    erich von stroheim | wim wenders | madeleine carroll | marlene dietrich | rita hayworth







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    Changes last made: 2004
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