The Return of Frank James, Fritz Lang (1940)

What a disaster! I chalk it up to this being Lang’s first western, and his first film in color. A genius of Lang’s intensity was probably obsessed with the nuances and possibilities of each of these new toys; as such it may not be a complete surprise that he was too overly preoccupied to take much interest in actually making a watchable movie. It doesn’t help that Henry Fonda is about as exciting as a piece of whole wheat toast, Gene Tierney seems to think sitting stock still and being beautiful qualifies as acting, and Ernest Whitman’s character is a racist stereotype so banal it’s hard to even to get angry about it. The only bright — well, actually, brightly dark — spot is John Carradine as Bob Ford; you may remember him as the Confederate swashbuckler aboard John Ford’s Stagecoach.

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