The 20 best films of Henry Fonda!

The best, and the greatest films of an icon. He is best remembered as the man who loved justice, but many of his greatest roles were of men who battled justice within themselves. These 20 films show him in a myriad of characterizations, and will no doubt what will be remembered a hundred years from now.
View:
Log in to copy items to your own lists.
1.
Fort Apache (1948)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.6/10 X  
At Fort Apache, an honorable and veteran war captain finds conflict when his regime is placed under the command of a young, glory hungry lieutenant colonel with no respect for the local Indian tribe. (128 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ Although named Thursday, Fonda was clearly a George Custer character here. He was a villain with honor and dignity, who actually thought he was doing right in the cavalry classic of all time. ” - drystyx
 
2.
The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
When a posse captures three men suspected of killing a local farmer, they become strongly divided over whether or not to lynch the men. (75 mins.)
“ An unlikely hero, if you can call him that. He and Morgan (Col Potter) are the central characters, but really blend into the background much the way you would expect Robert Duvall to do, in this classic about a lynch mob. He is brutish, a man of the times, but doesn't like lynch mobs. Meanwhile, he knows there is little he can do, but he does what he can. ” - drystyx
 
3.
Mister Roberts (1955)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
In the waning days of World War II, the United States Navy cargo ship Reluctant and her crew are stationed in the "backwater" areas of the Pacific Ocean. Trouble ensues when the crew members are granted liberty. (123 mins.)
“ One of his usual iconic roles, as the man who speaks up for the downtrodden. Set in the war, on a ship that sees no action, this is "scenic drama", with a hint of comedy, and a hint of pathos. It's hard to tell where "Mister Roberts" is coming from in today's world, as he is a bit gung ho during war. Still, this film reflects life in another era, and what people were like. ” - drystyx
 
4.
12 Angry Men (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.9/10 X  
A jury holdout attempts to prevent a miscarriage of justice by forcing his colleagues to reconsider the evidence. (96 mins.)
Director: Sidney Lumet
“ Super script with a super cast is going to translate into a super movie. I never really liked "control freaks", which is what Fonda plays here, but this story, and this performance disguise the "control freak" nature of this juror perfectly. Personally, I always suspected Juror #8 was paid off to do this. It is great drama, though. ” - drystyx
 
5.
Battle of the Bulge (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A dramatization of Nazi Germany's final Western Front counterattack of World War II. (167 mins.)
Director: Ken Annakin
“ Again, Fonda is a bit "gung ho" for combat, but this story revolves around many different people. Fonda's character is his usual "man who is always right when everyone else is wrong", but he is very convincing at it. A top notch war film. ” - drystyx
 
6.
The Tin Star (1957)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A cynical former sheriff turned bounty hunter helps a young, recently appointed acting sheriff with his advice, his experience and his gun. (93 mins.)
Director: Anthony Mann
“ You have to have some Westerns, and Fonda was in some great ones in his early Westerns. Perkins steals the show here, but Fonda is great as the mentor character. He is in the backdrop in the great final showdown scene, easily one of the 5 greatest showdowns in film history, between Perkins and Brand, with the bold camera angles. This is a memorable Western ” - drystyx
 
7.
Firecreek (1968)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A peace-loving, part-time sheriff in the small town of Firecreek must take a stand when a gang of vicious outlaws takes over his town. (104 mins.)
“ Before "Straw Dogs", there was "Firecreek". Here, Fonda is a bad guy who leads a gang of mercenary gunmen. He finds a quiet town, and the appeal of the quiet life is set against the example he must set for the respect of his men, when one of them is accidentally killed by a mentally challenged young man. ” - drystyx
 
8.
Warlock (1959)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.3/10 X  
A famous gunman becomes the marshal of Warlock to end a gang's rampages, but is met with some opposition by a former gang member turned deputy sheriff who wants to follow only legal methods. (122 mins.)
Director: Edward Dmytryk
“ Another great Western in which Fonda's rock solid lawman is made to be upstaged not only by Widmark and Quinn, but even by Dr. McCoy. Fonda knew his role here meant to be upstaged, though. His character is one whose secret emotions are bottled up, and Fonda does it splendidly. ” - drystyx
 
9.
Too Late the Hero (1970)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A reluctant hero, American Lieutenant Sam Lawson, is secunded to a motley British unit tasked with destroying a Japanese radio on a Philippine island. (145 mins.)
Director: Robert Aldrich
“ You aren't always the star. Here, his role is limited, but this is a classic war film with Fonda in an authority figure role. However, the film is about the "little guys" in the field, and decisions they must make, which is what makes this a classic. ” - drystyx
 
10.
The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  
A poor Midwest family is forced off their land. They travel to California, suffering the misfortunes of the homeless in the Great Depression. (129 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ This isn't one of my favorites, but it will be remembered as a classic. I didn't like the arrogance of Fonda's character as he basically "bragged" to the driver who gave him a lift about being a "murderer". But that was his character. It would have been better if he was a regular guy, but for some reason, many people think a murderer is a "regular guy". He serves as "observor" in the events that follow. ” - drystyx
 
11.
The Longest Day (1962)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The events of D-Day, told on a grand scale from both the Allied and German points of view. (178 mins.)
“ Probably never will be a cast this star studded ever again, so no performer really stands out. It is a lot of "little stories" together, that will be remembered. ” - drystyx
 
12.
My Darling Clementine (1946)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  
The Earps battle the Clantons at the OK Corral in Tombstone, Arizona. (97 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ While the events are historically false, no major OK Corral movie was very accurate, the closest probably being with Costner, but the characters are the truest here. With each later version, the characters became more and more modern day men in old time outfits. Here, you got the true feeling of the people of the old West, because there were some people who lived in it still alive, who were interviewed. Fonda's Wyatt is undeniably the most realistic to this day. ” - drystyx
 
13.
On Golden Pond (1981)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  
Norman is a curmudgeon with an estranged relationship with his daughter Chelsea. At Golden Pond, he and his wife nevertheless agree to care for Billy, the son of Chelsea's new boyfriend, and a most unexpected relationship blooms. (109 mins.)
Director: Mark Rydell
“ A bit slow paced for me, but obviously iconic. It will come and go, and remain a mainstay drama, because someday it will be remade with another family of actors, and that will be compared to this, and then a third one, and so on. ” - drystyx
 
14.
Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.1/10 X  
Newlyweds Gil and Lana Martin try to establish a farm in the Mohawk Valley but are menaced by Indians and Tories as the Revolutinary War begins. (104 mins.)
Director: John Ford
“ Again, as with Clementine, we get the feel of real people of the past, and what they were like, instead of modern actors taking time off from their video games and board meetings to put on costumes. ” - drystyx
 
15.
The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.9/10 X  
A feud, the origins of which can barely be remembered, has been boiling for decades between two sheltered mountain families... (102 mins.)
Director: Henry Hathaway
“ It will come back, as classics do. It isn't heralded by the big shots, but is a story for common people. ” - drystyx
 
16.
The Wrong Man (1956)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.5/10 X  
In 1953, an innocent man named Christopher Emmanuel "Manny" Balestrero is arrested after being mistaken for an armed robber. (105 mins.)
“ Can't go wrong with Hitch. Well, not usually. This is one of Htch's good ones. ” - drystyx
 
17.
In Harm's Way (1965)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  
A naval officer reprimanded after Pearl Harbor is later promoted to rear admiral and gets a second chance to prove himself against the Japanese. (165 mins.)
Director: Otto Preminger
“ Most of the movie seems very routine, and predictaable. It is the climax that makes this something you don't expect. ” - drystyx
 
18.
The Swarm (1978)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 4.4/10 X  
A huge swarm of deadly African bees spreads terror over American cities by killing thousands of people. (116 mins.)
Director: Irwin Allen
“ In the age of disaster films, some will stand out. This is one of the better ones, and the actors are one reason. ” - drystyx
 
19.
The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.0/10 X  
Alexander Graham Bell falls in love with deaf girl Mabel Hubbard while teaching the deaf and trying to invent means for telegraphing the human voice... (98 mins.)
Director: Irving Cummings
“ Very personable story, with Fonda in a supporting role. It is a "feel good" film, which is something that the wackos can't stand, which is why it is so rare. ” - drystyx
 
20.
Midway (1976)
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 6.8/10 X  
A dramatization of the battle that was widely heralded as a turning point of the Pacific Theatre of World War II. (132 mins.)
Director: Jack Smight
“ Another that isn't among my personal choices, but the all star cast will keep this one as a mainstay if only for discussion and prosperity, and perhaps to compare to others (like "In Harm's Way") ” - drystyx