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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Down 19% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
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:
Good Thing There's Fonda See more (32 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?

The original treatment had Frank romantically interested in the reporter played by Gene Tierney, but the studio became fearful of a possible lawsuit by Frank's widow and/or son, so it was eliminated from the script.See more »
Maj. Rufus Cobb:Now read it back to me, Roy.
Roy:"If we are ever going to have law and order in this part of the country, we got to take vipers like those Fords and that slimy railroad detective Runyon and shoot 'em down like dogs."
See more »
Movie Connections:
Features Jesse James (1939)See more »
Old Ironsides MarchSee more »


This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.
Good Thing There's Fonda, 10 December 2014
Author: dougdoepke from Claremont, USA

Frank James sets out to avenge the cowardly killing of his brother Jessie by the Ford brothers. In the process he gets in trouble with the law.

When you hear western, you probably don't think Fritz Lang. Instead, moody, unstable noir was the German émigré's specialty. Looks like this was Lang's last oater and I can see why. Despite TCF's big production values, the script and acting undercut results, while the director adds little. Fonda's fine in the central role, his usual persuasive low-key self. Also, Cooper as the callow kid manages some affecting scenes with Fonda, before the surprise ending. However, Hull as the defense attorney doesn't just chew the scenery, he eats it, turning things into a near joke. Too bad we don't see more of Carradine. A verbal face-off with him and Fonda would have salvaged a lot. The Technicolor, however, is vivid, the scenic shots in and around Lone Pine real eye-catchers. Too bad we don't get more of that instead of the near silly courtroom scenes. At the same time, luscious Gene Tierney is almost as scenic as Lone Pine, even if her performance is still at a beginner's stage. Anyway, the screenplay never does generate much tension or suspense, and even the showdown's pretty tame. All in all, the film's something of a disappointment given the talent and production values involved.

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