The Return of Frank James

Screening on Film
Directed by Fritz Lang.
With Henry Fonda, Gene Tierney, Jackie Cooper.
US, 1940, 35mm, color, 92 min.
Print source: 20th Century Fox

Lang's oft professed love of the Western is everywhere apparent in his spirited first foray into the genre, as well as his first color film, a creatively embellished portrait of Frank James as a revenge-bent yet righteous hero at war against the anti-democratic expansion of the railroad. With Henry Fonda's carefully understated Frank James as a thoughtful, even ruminative, action hero, Lang continues the Western's rich tradition of critically engaging the facts and legends of American history and lore. Especially striking is the presence and role of a winsome Gene Tierney, in her screen debut, as a eager reporter who learns to appreciate the deep power of the press. 

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