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 »

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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)
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 (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:
A Demanded Sequel See more (28 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)
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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
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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?

The studio bought the rights to the James Brothers but changed the facts for entertainment. Although Frank surrendered 6 months after Jesse James' murder, both Ford brothers were already dead and Frank had nothing to do with their deaths.See more »
Preacher:Prepare for the vengeance of the Lord! The day of reckoning is mighty close and you'll catch a heapin' fire if you don't get to repentin' and get to it quick! Hellfire is awaitin' ya. Are you ready to meet your Maker?
Frank James:I reckon so.
Preacher:You willing to stand before the judgmency with a chaw of tobacco in your mouth? Lost souls, that's what you are! Black as sin! Black with iniquity! The light of the Lord ain't in any of ya! Do you ever think of salvation? Do you ever think of the kingdom? No! All you ever think of is your bellies... and your corn pone and you chitlins and your corn liquor. Ah, brother, how about a swig of that jug?
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) (TV)See more »
Ring, Ring de BanjoSee more »


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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful.
A Demanded Sequel, 1 September 2005
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

When Jesse James came out in 1939, the player that got the best reviews for that film was Henry Fonda who played the laconic older brother Frank. His reviews were so outstanding that it was almost a public demand that a sequel be done.

It almost didn't get done because instead of Henry King who directed Jesse James, Darryl F. Zanuck assigned Fritz Lang. Henry Fonda hated the man, he was a sadistic bully on the set and even though he directed Fonda to a great performance in You Only Live Once, Fonda hated every second on that set.

Fonda tells in his autobiography that he and Lang sat down prior to shooting and Lang agreed to tone his behavior down. But the same thing happened as on You Only Live Once. And Fonda dutifully finished the film.

Though he hated the experience Fonda was on the mark again as Frank James. What The Return of Frank James lacks in truth it makes up for in capturing the spirit of the times in the post Civil border state of Missouri and why the James Brothers were regarded as heroes by some.

In addition to Fonda, John Carradine, Charles Tannen, Ernest Whitman, Donald Meek, Henry Hull, George Chandler and J. Edward Bromberg repeat their roles from Jesse James so continuity is assured. Bromberg as the railroad detective who basically plans an assassination for Jesse James in that film and tries again to Fonda in this film particularly stands out.

So does Henry Hull as the newspaper editor/lawyer who was a very colorful character in both films, dictating the same editorial at whatever group or individual he doesn't like at the moment. His patented formula is to "shoot 'em down like dogs."

If you liked Jesse James and I think more than western fans liked that film, no reason you shouldn't like The Return of Frank James.

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The Retun of Frank James craw2002
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