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The Return of Frank James (1940)

Approved | | Adventure, Crime, Drama | 16 August 1940 (USA)
Frank James continues to avoid arrest in order to take revenge on the Ford brothers for their murder of his brother Jesse.


Fritz Lang


Sam Hellman (original screenplay)




Cast overview, first billed only:
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 ... Mc Coy
Eddie Collins ... Station Agent
George Barbier ... Judge
Russell Hicks ... Prosecutor
Ernest Whitman Ernest Whitman ... Pinky
Charles Tannen ... Charlie Ford
Lloyd Corrigan ... Randolph Stone
Victor Kilian ... Preacher
Edward McWade ... Colonel Jackson


Frank James, the brother of Jesse James, has been laying low, living as a farmer and taking care of Clem, the son of one of the members of the James gang. He gets word that Jesse was killed by Bob and Charlie Ford, he hoped that the law would deal with them but when he learns that the railroad man whom he and Jesse terrorized contracted them to kill Jesse and helped them get off, he goes after them. Clem whom he told to remain on the farm goes with him and when it's impossible for him to do so, Frank has no choice to let him tag along. Now in order to cover their tracks they start telling people that Frank James is dead and that they saw it. Eleanor Stone, a female reporter, who wants to write about it interviews them and they are both taken with each other. But eventually she learns who Frank is from the Pinkerton detective who is tracking them but doesn't turn them in. But eventually Frank learns that his farm hand, Pinky has been arrested as his accomplice and is about to be hung. ... Written by rcs0411@yahoo.com

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Even greater than Jesse James. See more »


Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


Film debut of Gene Tierney. See more »


In the last scene at the newspaper the Colonel tells the typesetter to put the story in 12 point boldface type. As that was different from the newspaper standard 10 point roman type, the typesetter would have to begin all over from the start. See more »


Clem, aka Tom Grayson: There ain't no right for us poor people than the end of a gun.
See more »

Alternate Versions

UK versions are cut by 5 seconds to edit horse falls. See more »


Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »


Old Ironsides March
Music by Hugo Riesenfeld
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User Reviews

A Satisfying tale of Revenge served hot!
4 June 2002 | by d1494See all my reviews

Thanks to the terrific cast and photography, this story makes a terrific western. Henry Hull is terrific as major Cobb, who expresses justified Southern outrage over the depradations of the carpetbaggers and the railroads. Despite the ignorant comments of some who dare to make a ludicrous comparison to fascism, what we get here is an honest expression of southern feelings. Yes, there was a condesencion toward blacks then, but let film show it as it was, let's not try to rewrite history or create a pleasing fiction as all too many modern films do. 'Shoot em down like dogs??!' I would dearly love to see Major Cobb in a modern day courtroom, giving fire and damnation to the lawyers and other parasites that hide behind suits and ties! This is a real satisfying film and Gene Tierney never looked better.

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Release Date:

16 August 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Return of Frank James See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Twentieth Century Fox See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)


Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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