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5.0 out of 5 stars "The Return of Frank James ... Fonda/Tierney/Cooper/Hull/Caradine ... Fritz Lang (Director) (2007)"
20th Century Fox presents "THE RETURN OF FRANK JAMES" (1940) ~ (92 min/Color) ~ Starring: Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, Jackie Cooper, Henry Hull, John Carradine & Donald Meek

Directed by Fritz Lang

This Technicolor sequel to Jesse James (1939) does without the services of the earlier film's star Tyrone Power, who after all was shot dead by that "dirty...
Published on 11 Nov 2011 by J. Lovins

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tell me, is it more important for you to kill a man than to save an innocent one?
Frank James, after learning that the men who killed his brother, Jesse, have been pardoned, comes out of hiding to enact revenge.

Following straight on after the ending of Henry King's 1939 Tyrone Power starrer, Jesse James. The Return Of Frank James sets its stall out from the off to entertain without giving much credence to history. Back by popular demand as...
Published on 17 Aug 2011 by Spike Owen


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tell me, is it more important for you to kill a man than to save an innocent one?, 17 Aug 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: The Return Of Frank James [DVD] (DVD)
Frank James, after learning that the men who killed his brother, Jesse, have been pardoned, comes out of hiding to enact revenge.

Following straight on after the ending of Henry King's 1939 Tyrone Power starrer, Jesse James. The Return Of Frank James sets its stall out from the off to entertain without giving much credence to history. Back by popular demand as Frank is Henry Fonda, who in turn is joined by the returning John Carradine and Charles Tannen as Bob and Charlie Ford respectively. Along for the ride and offering up petite beauty and innocence is Gene Tierney in her first starring role. Directed by Fritz Lang, who had cemented his glowing reputation with the likes of M & Fury, The Return Of Frank James is a solid if unspectacular Western entry. Certainly its dark theme of revenge is not to be sniffed at, nor is the strand dealing with the influence of the press. Whilst the California photography from George Barnes is appropriate and pleasing on the eye. It's just that the film, in spite of its fine production, feels like the cash in sequel it obviously is. It's a hard film to take seriously, which in a film dealing with serious issues such as revenge, is not particularly good really is it! It's actually the jovial nature of it that stops it from veering towards the maudlin. Certainly the court case sequences are joyous and give Fonda and the team something to get stuck into. But it's an odd mix of a film, with its main allegiance difficult to really pin down. Yet in spite of my own protestations, it's a film I heartily recommend to those interested in light hearted Westerns, regardless of if that was Lang's intention from the off. It's also fair to say that those who enjoyed Henry King's far better first movie, will doubtless enjoy this sequel. Safe, solid and definitely enjoyable, but ultimately it's not very memorable. 6/10
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3.0 out of 5 stars For Lang Completists Only, 18 July 2013
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The 1940 western The Return of Frank James is a film Fritz Lang had to, rather than wanted to, make. Since his arrival in the US he had made three films for three different studios and all had not done well at the box office. Fury (MGM, 1936), You Only Live Once (United Artists, 1937) and You and Me (Paramount, 1938) had garnered Lang a reputation as a dark, cynical, negative Austro-German type who not only made box office poison (especially You and Me), but also drove everyone in the Hollywood system up the wall with his tyrannical dictatorial behaviour, especially on set. He failed to understand that whereas in Germany he had total control over every aspect of a film's production and could drive everyone to their limits, in Hollywood he had to contend with studio regulations, union rules and the power of stars. His power was confounded at almost every level and in 1940 studios didn't know what to do with him. The fact that over time Fury and (especially) You Only Live Once have been reassessed as classics did nothing for Lang at the time. So 20th Century Fox had a dilemma on their hands. Zanuck's answer was to give his monocled little Hitler a couple of westerns to cool him down and make him conform. And conform he did. Both The Return of Frank James and Western Union are as conformist as Lang ever got. The lack of personal involvement from Lang (he was brought in with cast and script already in place for both pictures) means there is nothing really to distinguish them from any other western made at the time. To talk about them at all as 'Lang' pictures seems pointless.

The Return of Frank James is a sequel to Henry King's 1939 Jesse James and is a simple revenge western with Frank (Henry Fonda) taking the law into his own hands when Bob and Charlie Ford (John Carradine and Charles Tannen) are let off by the jury at their trial for killing Jesse. With Jesse's son (Jackie Cooper) in tow Frank sets off across America in pursuit of his quarries. The love interest is provided by Gene Tierney in her first role as reporter Eleanor Stone who falls for our hero. Don't look for historical accuracy here as there isn't any. What there is are a collection of routine action sequences and some stunning landscape photography by George Barnes. This was Lang's first film in color and he does make use of it with some marvelously framed compositions, though how much this was Lang and how much was Barnes is a moot point. The film is an entertaining watch. The leads (especially Fonda and Tierney) play well and the story is diverting, but the film never really rises above mediocrity. See Drums Along the Mohawk (John Ford, 1939) or Dodge City (Michael Curtiz, 1939) for color westerns of the time which really blow your socks off. If it's revenge westerns you want then Winchester '73 (Anthony Mann, 1950) and The Searchers (John Ford, 1956) remain the benchmarks.

Murder, hate and revenge were usually meat and drink for Lang (think Die Nibelungen!), but clearly at this delicate point of his career he knew he had to toe the studio line, be nice to 'big star' Henry Fonda (who hated Lang for his treatment while making You Only Live Once) and wait for his chance which duly came the following year with Man Hunt. That proved to be his biggest ever American box office success and gave him the kudos to go on to make the wonderful The Woman in the Window (1944) and Scarlet Street (1945), before blowing it again with Secret Beyond the Door (1948). This DVD is a region 1 NTSC disc released by Fox themselves and looks and sounds absolutely fabulous. It's a shame the film can't match the presentation!
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5.0 out of 5 stars "The Return of Frank James ... Fonda/Tierney/Cooper/Hull/Caradine ... Fritz Lang (Director) (2007)", 11 Nov 2011
By 
J. Lovins "Mr. Jim" (Missouri-USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
20th Century Fox presents "THE RETURN OF FRANK JAMES" (1940) ~ (92 min/Color) ~ Starring: Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, Jackie Cooper, Henry Hull, John Carradine & Donald Meek

Directed by Fritz Lang

This Technicolor sequel to Jesse James (1939) does without the services of the earlier film's star Tyrone Power, who after all was shot dead by that "dirty little coward" Bob Ford (John Carradine). Repeating his portrayal of western outlaw Frank James is Henry Fonda who has retired from his life of crime to become a peaceful farmer, though he has never given up his search for the treacherous Ford. The killer and his cohorts are eventually rounded up, but are pardoned due to political intervention. That's when Frank slaps on six-guns once more to seek his own form of justice. Featured in the cast is Henry Hull as Major Rufus Cobb, a crusading newspaperman and Jackie Cooper is Clem, the headstrong young sprout whom Frank has taken under his wing. Making her screen debut is Gene Tierney as Eleanor Stone a reporter from the East who wants to tell Frank's true story to the world.

Special footnote: ~ 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 ~ 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.

BIOS:
1. Fritz Lang [Director]
Date of Birth: 5 December 1890 - Vienna, Austria-Hungary [now Austria]
Date of Death: 2 August 1976 - Beverly Hills, Los Angeles, California

2. Henry Fonda [aka: Henry Jaynes Fonda]
Date of Birth: 16 May 1905 - Grand Island, Nebraska
Date of Death: 12 August 1982 - Los Angeles, California

3. Gene Tierney
Date of Birth: 19 November 1920 - Brooklyn, New York
Date of Death: 6 November 1991 - Houston, Texas

4. Jackie Cooper
Date of Birth: 15 September 1922 - Los Angeles, California
Date of Death: 3 May 2011 - Santa Monica, California

5. Henry Hull
Date of Birth: 3 October 1890 - Louisville, Kentucky
Date of Death: 8 March 1977 - Cornwall, England, UK

6. John Carradine
Date of Birth: 5 February 1906 - New York City, New York, USA
Date of Death: 27 November 1988 - Milan, Italy

7. Donald Meek
Date of Birth: 14 July 1878 - Glasgow, Scotland, UK
Date of Death: 18 November 1946 - Los Angeles, California

Mr. Jim's Ratings:
Quality of Picture & Sound: 5 Stars
Performance: 5 Stars
Story & Screenplay: 5 Stars
Overall: 5 Stars [Original Music, Cinematography & Film Editing]

Total Time: 92 min on DVD ~ 20th Century Fox ~ (March 6, 2007)
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Tell me, is it more important for you to kill a man than to save an innocent one?, 17 Aug 2011
By 
Spike Owen "John Rouse Merriott Chard" (Birmingham, England.) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Frank James, after learning that the men who killed his brother, Jesse, have been pardoned, comes out of hiding to enact revenge.

Following straight on after the ending of Henry King's 1939 Tyrone Power starrer, Jesse James. The Return Of Frank James sets its stall out from the off to entertain without giving much credence to history. Back by popular demand as Frank is Henry Fonda, who in turn is joined by the returning John Carradine and Charles Tannen as Bob and Charlie Ford respectively. Along for the ride and offering up petite beauty and innocence is Gene Tierney in her first starring role. Directed by Fritz Lang, who had cemented his glowing reputation with the likes of M & Fury, The Return Of Frank James is a solid if unspectacular Western entry. Certainly its dark theme of revenge is not to be sniffed at, nor is the strand dealing with the influence of the press. Whilst the California photography from George Barnes is appropriate and pleasing on the eye. It's just that the film, in spite of its fine production, feels like the cash in sequel it obviously is. It's a hard film to take seriously, which in a film dealing with serious issues such as revenge, is not particularly good really is it! It's actually the jovial nature of it that stops it from veering towards the maudlin. Certainly the court case sequences are joyous and give Fonda and the team something to get stuck into. But it's an odd mix of a film, with its main allegiance difficult to really pin down. Yet in spite of my own protestations, it's a film I heartily recommend to those interested in light hearted Westerns, regardless of if that was Lang's intention from the off. It's also fair to say that those who enjoyed Henry King's far better first movie, will doubtless enjoy this sequel. Safe, solid and definitely enjoyable, but ultimately it's not very memorable. 6/10
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars "I can't talk without thinking, not being a lawyer.", 30 Aug 2010
By 
Humpty Dumpty (Wall St, Upton Snodsbury) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Return Of Frank James [DVD] (DVD)
How exciting to review a film that's galloped in under the radar of both Trevor Willsmer and Bob Salter, the Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid of Amazon reviewers!

This is the entirely fictional sequel to 20th Century Fox's Jesse James of the year before (1939) and like most sequels (though eg. look how Henry IV pt 2 outshines pt 1), it's inferior to its older sibling in just about every aspect.

The storyline, the hunt by Jesse's younger brother Frank (Henry Fonda)) for the Ford Brothers, the low-down killers of JJ, never gets out of a trot even into a canter. This Frank is just too reasonable and well-behaved a guy, more of a health and safety officer or a school lollipop man than a vengeful gunman. When he finally bares his teeth and draws his Colt I didn't believe a word of it; I almost expected the gun to turn out to be a water pistol. The script is no more than workmanlike and the Fritz Lang direction ponderous (not for the first time: his Western Union two years later was - I'll be kind - insipid. It and The Return of Frank James share the same odd tone, a mix of seriousness and farce. The use of farce as a surrogate for genuine humour is a sure sign of a writer or director, like Lang, who has no sense of humour).

Whereas the original JJ has a nice sense of the outdoors, this whole thing is too studio-bound, with clumsy use of back projection in the chase sequences and elsewhere. Until they popped up on the range at the 60 mins. point, I was beginning to think Fonda and his kid brother (Jackie Cooper) had clauses in their contract or maybe electronic tags barring them from setting foot outside the Los Angeles city boundary. The first shootout inexplicably ends abruptly just as it's getting into its stride, and the second one is a damp squib. If you've seen the early shootout in Hangman's Knot (1952), let alone the denouements of Yellow Sky (1948) or The Naked Spur (1953), then these here will cut no ice.

Perhaps worst of all, the acting styles of the cast are all over the place. Henry Fonda's trademark quiet intensity is here watered down to something approaching a vacuum at the heart of the movie. The contrast between him and the clownish Henry Hull playing an intemperate newspaper editor turned lawyer through a hand-held tannoy system is plain bizarre. The railroad detective on Fonda's tail is almost as bad, and ex-child star Jackie Cooper is all at sea as the kid brother. This leaves poor Gene Tierney as the final lifeboat to keep the film from foundering on the rocks. But at the age of 19 and in her first picture she's unsurprisingly not up to the job. It doesn't help that her role is a narrative sideshow and that her final perfunctory parting from Fonda is pure bathos - the studio became fearful of a possible lawsuit by Frank's widow and/or son - but she sparkles womanfully and as one would expect she looks gorgeous in silver and grey, though even in this respect this Fox Cinema Classics Collection R1 release (no extras) is a flop, the Technicolor looking bleached; nothing like the richness of Jesse James.

Diehard western fans will no doubt want to catch this, though everyone else can give it a miss. Dammit, looks like Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid have had the last laugh.........
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars for my dad, 20 Sep 2013
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This review is from: The Return Of Frank James [DVD] (DVD)
my dad wants it for his birthday as this is one of his favourite films im not a fan of westerns but my dad will enjoy it
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars my dad wanted this, 14 Aug 2013
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This review is from: The Return Of Frank James [DVD] (DVD)
my dad has always loved watching westerns and has quite a collection but he does'nt have this as it was his favorite western but now he has it he can enjoy watching as much as he wants
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great western, 21 Jan 2013
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Super western,with great actors and a very good,lovely scenery, and the product was very quicly sentVery pleased with the Dvd
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars the return frank james, 25 May 2011
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This review is from: The Return Of Frank James [DVD] (DVD)
i am a western fan this is one of the best westerns ever made along with jesse james,shane,shenendoah,and many more cracking dvd
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