IMDb > The Return of Frank James (1940)
The Return of Frank James
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The Return of Frank James (1940) More at IMDbPro »

The Return of Frank James -- In this sequel to Jesse James, Frank has given up his life of crime for that of farming, but when he finds that his brother's killer, Ford, has been freed he sets out to exact revenge.


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Sam Hellman (original screenplay)
View company contact information for The Return of Frank James on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
16 August 1940 (USA) See more »
Frank James continues to avoid arrest in order to take revenge on the Ford brothers for their murder of his brother Jesse. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
(6 articles)
The Grandmaster – The Review
 (From 29 August 2013, 5:40 PM, PDT)

Your Vote Counts! 20th Century Fox Brings Classic Films to Blu-ray
 (From Scorecard Review. 15 January 2013, 8:31 AM, PST)

Daily Briefing. Movie: A Journal of Film Criticism 3
 (From MUBI. 24 December 2011, 4:24 AM, PST)

User Reviews:
Gene, Fresh On The Scene See more (33 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Henry Fonda ... Frank James

Gene Tierney ... Eleanor Stone

Jackie Cooper ... Clem

Henry Hull ... Major Rufus Cobb

John Carradine ... Bob Ford
J. Edward Bromberg ... George Runyan

Donald Meek ... McCoy
Eddie Collins ... Station Agent
George Barbier ... Judge
Russell Hicks ... Prosecutor
Ernest Whitman ... Pinky
Charles Tannen ... Charlie Ford
Lloyd Corrigan ... Randolph Stone
Victor Kilian ... Preacher
Edward McWade ... Colonel Jackson
George Chandler ... Roy
Irving Bacon ... Bystander
Frank Shannon ... Sheriff
Barbara Pepper ... Nellie Blane
Louis Mason ... Watchman
Matthew 'Stymie' Beard ... Mose (as Stymie Beard)
William Pawley ... Actor
Frank Sully ... Actor
Davison Clark ... Officer (as Davidson Clark)
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Bob Battier ... Frank James in Play (uncredited)
A.S. 'Pop' Byron ... Train Engineer (uncredited)
Kernan Cripps ... Deputy (uncredited)
Rube Dalroy ... Juror (uncredited)
Lester Dorr ... Reporter (uncredited)
Tex Driscoll ... Play Spectator (uncredited)
Edmund Elton ... Jury Foreman (uncredited)
Budd Fine ... Deputy (uncredited)
Almeda Fowler ... Mrs. Edna Stone (uncredited)
Sherry Hall ... Court Clerk (uncredited)
Milton Kibbee ... Reporter (uncredited)

Kermit Maynard ... Courtroom Spectator (uncredited)
Nelson McDowell ... Confederate Veteran Juror (uncredited)
Robert McKenzie ... Old Man on Rocker (uncredited)
Lew Meehan ... Bailiff (uncredited)
Frank Melton ... Reporter (uncredited)
Adrian Morris ... Denver Detective (uncredited)
James C. Morton ... Liberty Bartender (uncredited)
Hattie Noel ... Denver House Chambermaid (uncredited)
Lee Phelps ... Denver House Bartender (uncredited)
Tex Phelps ... Front-Row Play Spectator (uncredited)
Russ Powell ... Juror (uncredited)
Dale Van Sickel ... Reporter (uncredited)
Lillian Yarbo ... Eleanor's Maid (uncredited)

Directed by
Fritz Lang 
Writing credits
Sam Hellman (original screenplay)

Produced by
Kenneth Macgowan .... associate producer
Darryl F. Zanuck .... producer
Original Music by
David Buttolph (uncredited)
Cinematography by
George Barnes (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Walter Thompson 
Art Direction by
Richard Day 
Wiard Ihnen  (as Wiard B. Ihnen)
Set Decoration by
Thomas Little 
Makeup Department
Louis Hippe .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Production Management
Ben Silvey .... production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Hal Herman .... assistant director (uncredited)
Aaron Rosenberg .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Joe Behm .... props (uncredited)
Fred Smith .... props (uncredited)
Sound Department
W.D. Flick .... sound
Roger Heman Sr. .... sound (as Roger Heman)
Special Effects by
Larry Chapman .... special effects (uncredited)
Camera and Electrical Department
William V. Skall .... associate director of photography
Frank Corey .... grip (uncredited)
George Dye .... technician: Technicolor (uncredited)
George Dye .... technicolor technician (uncredited)
Kenneth Green .... camera operator (uncredited)
Charlie Hall .... grip (uncredited)
Wendell Jones .... grip (uncredited)
Eddie Ledgerwood .... grip (uncredited)
Roger Mace .... technician: Technicolor (uncredited)
George McHose .... grip (uncredited)
Fred Rezk .... grip (uncredited)
C.E. Richardson .... key grip (uncredited)
Herbert Romey .... grip (uncredited)
Anthony Ugrin .... still photographer (uncredited)
John F. Warren .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Jack Young .... camera operator (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Travis Banton .... costumes
Sam Benson .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Wesley Trist .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Music Department
David Buttolph .... musical director
Charles Henderson .... composer: stock music (uncredited)
Edward B. Powell .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Herbert W. Spencer .... composer: additional music (uncredited)
Herbert W. Spencer .... orchestrator (uncredited)
Other crew
Natalie Kalmus .... Technicolor director
Morgan Padelford .... associate Technicolor director
Bert Hendrickson .... stand-in: Jackie Cooper (uncredited)
Jack McKinney .... technical assistant (uncredited)
Walter Myron .... service: Technicolor (uncredited)
Stanley Scheuer .... script clerk (uncredited)
Paul Uhl .... technical assistant (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production CompaniesDistributors

Additional Details

Also Known As:
92 min
Color (Technicolor)
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)
Argentina:13 | Finland:K-16 | Sweden:15 | UK:A (original rating) (passed with cuts) | UK:U (tv rating) | UK:U (video rating) (cut) | USA:Approved (PCA #6330) | West Germany:16 (nf)

Did You Know?

Film debut of Gene Tierney.See more »
Frank James:Pinky never so much as even stole a chicken in his whole life!See more »
Movie Connections:
Features Jesse James (1939)See more »
Old Ironsides MarchSee more »


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8 out of 9 people found the following review useful.
Gene, Fresh On The Scene, 27 June 2011
Author: ferbs54 from United States

The sequel to the previous year's "Jesse James" (1939), "The Return of Frank James" is a perfectly entertaining, fast-moving Western that is historically important for two reasons: It was director Fritz Lang's first picture to be shot in color, and it served as the setting for the debut of one of Hollywood's most beloved actresses, Gene Tierney. In her 1979 autobiography "Self-Portrait," Gene tells us that Fox Studio head Darryl F. Zanuck had seen her performing on Broadway in 1940 in "The Male Animal," and immediately offered her a contract. After a previous stalled career in Hollywood, however, Gene--and her family--managed to finagle an unusually liberal deal from the studio chief: $750 a week, with a raise every six months, and the freedom to return to Broadway for half the year (an option that Gene never took advantage of), AND the right to make no changes to her hair or (soon-to-be-famous) teeth. In her first film for Fox, 20-year-old Gene played the role of Eleanor Stone, a liberated woman and nascent reporter on the Denver Star newspaper of 1882. She is duped by Frank James (Henry Fonda) and his sidekick Clem (Jackie Cooper, who had grown up a LOT since playing the role of kids a mere 10 years before, in films such as 1931's "The Champ") into writing a false story of the outlaw's demise, so that he might more easily track down the Ford brothers (John Carradine and Charles Tanner), who had just shot Jesse in the back and gotten away with it. Gene is excellent in her ingenue role, fresh faced and dewy eyed, and hardly deserving of Harvard Lampoon's "The Worst Female Discovery of 1940" citation.

As for the rest of the film, it is nicely shot and filled with amusing characters and situations. Besides Fonda and Carradine, Donald Meek returns in this sequel (a bit tougher than usual, as the conniving railroad man McCoy), as does Henry Hull (almost stealing the show as Frank's buddy Major Rufus Cobb). The film contains surprisingly little action per se, although a horse chase through the Rockies and resultant gunfight, coming at the picture's midpoint, are very well executed. Fonda, who had worked with Lang before, in 1937's "You Only Live Once," is very fine here as Frank James: sympathetic, cool and tough; a reformed badman with a conscience, and perhaps only 1/100th as nasty as he would be 30 years or so later, playing another Frank, in Sergio Leone's "Once Upon a Time in the West." Tierney, apparently, absolutely adored working with Fonda, especially after he defended her against the director. As Tierney reveals in her book, she had the unfortunate habit of keeping her mouth slightly parted when she wasn't speaking (an adorable habit, sez me!), and Lang chastised her severely for it, yelling "You little bitch! When you have no lines, keep your mouth shut!" Little could Lang know that that mouth and those teeth would soon make Gene one of THE preeminent screen goddesses of the 1940s! Anyway, although "The Return of Frank James" has been faulted elsewhere for its many historical inaccuracies, it remains a fun enough diversion. Capped off by one of the most amusing trial scenes since The Three Stooges' "Disorder in the Court," the film is perfect for all ages, and most especially, of course, for fans of Miss Gene Tierney....

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