The Return of Frank James

  • Film
  • Action and adventure
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Fox's follow-up to Jesse James was Lang's first Western and his first film in colour; if it's more conventional than the later Rancho Notorious, it nevertheless displays the director's interest in the psychology (and indeed the pitfalls) of revenge. At the start of the film, Frank (Fonda) is happy to let the law pronounce sentence on the Ford brothers, who killed Jesse; but when they are pardoned, he begins a deadly hunt that alienates him from society, imperils not only his own life but those of his friends, and threatens to destroy his long-held ideas of justice. For all its fine photography and sturdy performances, the film is finally little more than efficient and routine, with Lang rarely probing beyond the ironic if superficial twists of the narrative. Though it bears some slight thematic resemblance to the earlier Fury and You Only Live Once, he's clearly not as comfortable with dusty townships and baked landscapes as with the noir-like ambience of his contemporary crime movies.

Release details

Duration: 92 mins

Cast and crew

Director: Fritz Lang
Screenwriter: Sam Hellman
Cast: Henry Fonda
Gene Tierney
Jackie Cooper
Henry Hull
John Carradine
Donald Meek
J Edward Bromberg
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