Henry Fonda was an iconic American actor known for his commanding screen presence, remarkable versatility, and a career that spanned over five decades.
With his distinctive voice and captivating performances, Fonda established himself as one of the most celebrated actors in the history of cinema. He appeared in numerous memorable films, showcasing his talent in a wide range of genres, including drama, westerns, and comedies.
Born on May 16, 1905, in Grand Island, Nebraska, Henry Fonda began his acting career on Broadway before transitioning to the silver screen in the 1930s. He quickly gained recognition for his naturalistic acting style and ability to portray complex characters with depth and sincerity.
Throughout his illustrious career, Fonda collaborated with acclaimed directors such as John Ford, Alfred Hitchcock, and Sidney Lumet, among others. He received critical acclaim and numerous accolades, including an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in “On Golden Pond” (1981).
Best Henry Fonda Movies
In this guide, we will explore some of the best Henry Fonda movies that highlight his exceptional talent and the lasting impact he had on the film industry.
From timeless classics to iconic performances, Fonda’s filmography is a testament to his incredible contribution to cinema. Join us as we delve into the world of Henry Fonda and celebrate his remarkable body of work.
1. 12 Angry Men (1957)
“12 Angry Men” is a classic American courtroom drama film released in 1957. It was directed by Sidney Lumet and written by Reginald Rose, based on his teleplay of the same name. The film features an ensemble cast, including Henry Fonda, Lee J. Cobb, Ed Begley, and Jack Klugman, among others.
The story revolves around the deliberations of a jury composed of twelve men who are tasked with deciding the fate of a young man accused of murdering his father.
The film takes place almost entirely within the confines of the jury room, where the men engage in intense and heated discussions about the evidence presented during the trial.
At the beginning of the film, eleven of the jurors believe the accused is guilty and want to reach a quick verdict, but Juror No. 8 (played by Henry Fonda) has doubts about the evidence and proposes a more thorough examination of the case.
As the deliberations continue, the jurors clash with each other, revealing their prejudices, biases, and personal conflicts. Juror No. 8 challenges their assumptions, forcing them to confront their own preconceived notions and biases.
Throughout the film, tensions rise, tempers flare, and personal biases are gradually set aside as the jurors reevaluate the evidence and engage in critical thinking.
The story not only explores the concept of reasonable doubt but also delves into themes of justice, prejudice, and the power of persuasion.
“12 Angry Men” is known for its strong performances and its gripping portrayal of the deliberation process. It has been praised for its compelling storytelling, well-crafted dialogue, and insightful examination of human nature.
Over the years, the film has gained a reputation as a classic example of courtroom drama and has been widely studied and analyzed in film and law schools.
Despite being released over six decades ago, “12 Angry Men” remains highly regarded and continues to be influential in the realm of cinema.
Its themes and message about the importance of fair and unbiased judgment have stood the test of time, making it a timeless piece of filmmaking.
2. Mister Roberts (1955)
“Mister Roberts” is a 1955 American comedy-drama film directed by John Ford and Mervyn LeRoy. The film is based on the 1946 novel and 1948 play of the same name by Thomas Heggen, who also co-wrote the screenplay with Joshua Logan.
The story is set during World War II and revolves around the character Lieutenant (junior grade) Doug Roberts, played by Henry Fonda. Roberts serves on a cargo ship, USS Reluctant, which operates in the backwaters of the Pacific.
He is frustrated by the monotony and lack of action aboard the ship and longs to be transferred to a combat ship.
Roberts clashes with the ship’s commanding officer, Captain Morton (played by James Cagney), who is a strict and tyrannical figure.
Roberts tries to keep the morale of the crew up by arranging liberty on an exotic island and acquiring supplies requested by the crew. However, his efforts often lead to conflict with Captain Morton, who believes in strictly adhering to regulations and maintaining discipline.
Throughout the film, Roberts befriends several crew members, including Ensign Frank Pulver (played by Jack Lemmon), who is known for his mischievous behavior and attempts to avoid work.
Despite their differences, Roberts and Pulver develop a friendship, and Pulver eventually takes a stand to support Roberts.
“Mister Roberts” explores themes of duty, camaraderie, and the tension between following rules and maintaining morale. The film received critical acclaim for its performances, particularly Fonda’s portrayal of the idealistic Lieutenant Roberts, and Jack Lemmon won an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Ensign Pulver.
The film is known for its engaging mix of comedy and drama, providing a glimpse into the daily lives and challenges faced by the crew members serving in the Pacific during World War II.
3. The Grapes of Wrath (1940)
“The Grapes of Wrath” is a classic American film released in 1940, directed by John Ford. It is an adaptation of the novel of the same name by John Steinbeck, which was published in 1939.
The film tells the story of the Joad family, farmers from Oklahoma who are forced to leave their land during the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl. They embark on a journey to California in search of work and a better life.
Henry Fonda portrays the film’s protagonist, Tom Joad, who becomes the central character as the Joad family faces numerous challenges and hardships on their journey. The film explores themes of poverty, social injustice, and the resilience of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
“The Grapes of Wrath” received critical acclaim upon its release and won two Academy Awards, including Best Director for John Ford and Best Supporting Actress for Jane Darwell, who played the role of Ma Joad.
The film is often regarded as one of the greatest films in American cinema history, praised for its powerful storytelling, strong performances, and social commentary.
It is worth noting that “The Grapes of Wrath” is set during the Great Depression, a period of economic crisis in the United States that lasted throughout the 1930s.
The novel and the film shed light on the plight of the working class and the hardships faced by migrant workers during this time.
Both Steinbeck’s novel and Ford’s film adaptation have had a significant impact on American literature and cinema, portraying the struggles and resilience of the American people during a challenging period in history.
4. The Ox-Bow Incident (1943)
“The Ox-Bow Incident” is a 1943 American Western film directed by William A. Wellman and based on the 1940 novel of the same name by Walter Van Tilburg Clark.
The film is set in the American West during the 1880s and explores themes of mob mentality, justice, and the dangers of vigilante justice.
The story revolves around two drifters, played by Henry Fonda and Harry Morgan, who become involved in the tragic events of a small frontier town.
When a rancher is murdered and his cattle stolen, the townspeople form a posse to track down the alleged killers. Driven by fear, anger, and a desire for justice, the posse bypasses the legal system and takes the law into their own hands.
As the posse hunts down the suspected murderers, doubts and questions arise about their guilt. The film delves into the moral complexities of mob justice, raising questions about the nature of guilt, innocence, and the importance of due process.
It explores how fear and a sense of righteousness can lead people to make hasty and unjust decisions.
“The Ox-Bow Incident” is known for its dark and thought-provoking narrative, tackling themes of morality and the abuse of power. The film features a strong ensemble cast, including Dana Andrews, Anthony Quinn, and Jane Darwell, and it received critical acclaim upon its release.
While not a commercial success at the time, the film has since gained recognition as a classic of American cinema and a powerful commentary on justice and human nature.
“The Ox-Bow Incident” remains relevant today, reminding audiences of the dangers of unchecked mob mentality and the importance of upholding the principles of fairness, justice, and due process.
5. Young Mr. Lincoln (1939)
“Young Mr. Lincoln” is a biographical drama film directed by John Ford and released in 1939. The film portrays the early years of the life of Abraham Lincoln, the 16th President of the United States.
Henry Fonda stars in the title role of Abraham Lincoln, portraying his formative years as a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, before he became involved in politics.
The movie follows Lincoln’s journey as he establishes his law practice, his encounters with various townspeople, and his courtship of his future wife, Mary Todd.
The film also focuses on one particular murder trial known as the “Saint Ann’s case,” which Lincoln takes on as a defense attorney.
“Young Mr. Lincoln” showcases Lincoln’s intelligence, wit, and moral compass as he navigates the challenges of the courtroom and the complexities of human nature.
The film presents Lincoln as an empathetic and compassionate figure who fights for justice and upholds the principles of honesty and equality.
Directed by John Ford, the film features his signature visual style and attention to detail. It offers a fictionalized account of Lincoln’s early life, emphasizing his transformation into a respected and influential figure in American history.
“Young Mr. Lincoln” is notable for its engaging storytelling, strong performances, and its exploration of the character and ideals of one of America’s most revered presidents.
Please note that as an AI, I do not have real-time access to specific movie details or recent updates. The information provided here is based on my training up until September 2021.
6. My Darling Clementine (1946)
“My Darling Clementine” is a classic Western film released in 1946. It was directed by John Ford and starred Henry Fonda in the lead role. The movie is a fictionalized account of the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona.
The story revolves around Wyatt Earp, portrayed by Henry Fonda, who arrives in the lawless town of Tombstone with his brothers. Wyatt takes on the role of a lawman and becomes the town marshal. He is determined to bring law and order to the chaotic and violent town.
The plot focuses on Wyatt Earp’s relationship with the Clanton gang, led by Old Man Clanton. The tension escalates between the two sides, culminating in the climactic gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
Wyatt forms a friendship with Doc Holliday, a gambler and gunslinger, played by Victor Mature, who helps him in his mission to restore peace in Tombstone.
“My Darling Clementine” is known for its beautiful cinematography, iconic performances, and John Ford’s skillful direction. It presents a romanticized version of the Old West and explores themes of justice, duty, and loyalty.
While the film takes liberties with historical accuracy, it has become a beloved classic and is often regarded as one of the finest Westerns ever made. It has had a significant influence on the genre and has inspired numerous other Western films that followed.
7. On Golden Pond (1981)
“On Golden Pond” is a 1981 drama film directed by Mark Rydell and starring Henry Fonda, Katharine Hepburn, and Jane Fonda.
The movie is based on the 1979 play of the same name by Ernest Thompson, who also adapted the screenplay for the film. It tells the story of an aging couple, Ethel and Norman Thayer, spending their summer at their lake house in Maine.
Henry Fonda delivers a remarkable performance in “On Golden Pond” as Norman Thayer, a cantankerous and introspective retired professor.
Fonda’s portrayal of the complex and emotionally distant character earned him critical acclaim and his first and only Academy Award for Best Actor.
His nuanced performance captures the challenges and fears associated with aging, as well as the poignant moments of connection and reconciliation.
The film also explores the strained relationship between Norman and his daughter Chelsea, played by Jane Fonda, in a real-life father-daughter pairing.
Katharine Hepburn shines as Ethel Thayer, Norman’s supportive and understanding wife, delivering a poignant performance that earned her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
“On Golden Pond” is a touching and heartfelt exploration of family dynamics, love, and the process of growing older. It resonated with audiences and critics alike, earning widespread praise for its performances, direction, and screenplay.
The film’s success can be attributed in large part to Henry Fonda’s exceptional portrayal of Norman Thayer, which remains one of the most memorable roles of his career.
8. Fort Apache (1948)
“Fort Apache” is a Western film released in 1948, directed by John Ford and starring John Wayne, Henry Fonda, and Shirley Temple. It is the first installment in Ford’s unofficial “Cavalry Trilogy,” which also includes “She Wore a Yellow Ribbon” (1949) and “Rio Grande” (1950).
The film is set in the Old West and takes place at an isolated U.S. Cavalry post called Fort Apache, located in the Arizona Territory.
The story centers around the conflict between the strict and traditional commanding officer, Colonel Thursday (played by Henry Fonda), and the more experienced and understanding Captain York (played by John Wayne).
Colonel Thursday arrives at Fort Apache with his daughter Philadelphia (played by Shirley Temple) and aims to impose his strict military discipline on the soldiers.
He is focused on achieving glory and promotions for himself rather than truly understanding the local Native American tribes and their culture. Captain York, on the other hand, has gained the respect of both his men and the Native Americans through his fair and compassionate approach.
As tensions rise with the Native American tribes, including the Apache led by Cochise, Captain York tries to negotiate peace and avoid unnecessary bloodshed.
However, Colonel Thursday’s ego and desire for a grand military victory cloud his judgment, leading to a disastrous battle that results in heavy casualties.
“Fort Apache” explores themes of duty, honor, and the clash of cultures in the context of the Old West. It provides a critical examination of the treatment of Native Americans and highlights the arrogance and shortsightedness of the military leadership during that period.
The film also delves into the complexities of command and the moral dilemmas faced by soldiers in the face of conflicting orders.
John Ford’s direction, coupled with John Wayne’s strong performance as Captain York, contributed to the film’s success and lasting impact.
“Fort Apache” is considered one of the classic Western films, known for its beautiful cinematography, compelling characters, and thought-provoking exploration of American history and its treatment of indigenous peoples.
9. Fail Safe (1964)
“Fail Safe” is a 1964 American Cold War thriller film directed by Sidney Lumet. The movie is based on the 1962 novel of the same name by Eugene Burdick and Harvey Wheeler. It was released during the height of the Cold War and reflects the anxieties and tensions of the era.
The story of “Fail Safe” revolves around a terrifying scenario where a technical glitch in the American defense system sends a U.S. bomber squadron on a mission to drop nuclear bombs on Moscow.
The President of the United States, played by Henry Fonda, is informed of the error and must work with his advisors and the Soviet Premier to prevent the impending catastrophe and avert an all-out nuclear war.
As tensions rise and the clock ticks, the President and his team must make difficult decisions and negotiate with the Soviets to find a peaceful solution.
The film portrays the intense pressure faced by the President as he grapples with the moral and ethical implications of sacrificing a major American city to prevent further destruction.
“Fail Safe” is known for its serious and gripping tone, devoid of any comic relief or typical Hollywood embellishments.
The black-and-white cinematography adds to the film’s stark atmosphere and sense of impending doom. The performances, particularly that of Henry Fonda as the resolute President, are praised for their authenticity and realism.
The movie offers a chilling portrayal of the Cold War era, highlighting the potential risks and dangers of the nuclear arms race and the catastrophic consequences of human error in a highly tense political climate.
“Fail Safe” serves as a cautionary tale about the perils of technology and the need for effective communication and diplomacy to prevent disastrous misunderstandings.
It is worth mentioning that the same year “Fail Safe” was released, another film with a similar theme called “Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb” was also released.
While “Dr. Strangelove” took a satirical approach to the same subject matter, “Fail Safe” presented a more serious and somber tone.
10. Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
“Once Upon a Time in the West” is a renowned epic Western film directed by Sergio Leone and released in 1968. Known as one of Leone’s masterpieces, the film is often regarded as one of the greatest Westerns ever made.
It features an ensemble cast that includes Henry Fonda, Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, and Charles Bronson.
The story takes place in the American Old West and follows a complex narrative that involves themes of revenge, greed, and the clash between civilization and lawlessness.
The film begins with a mysterious stranger, played by Charles Bronson, who arrives in a small town and becomes embroiled in a conflict between a ruthless railroad tycoon (Henry Fonda) and a group of outlaws led by a charismatic bandit (Jason Robards).
Claudia Cardinale portrays a former prostitute who finds herself caught in the middle of these conflicting forces.
“Once Upon a Time in the West” is notable for its distinctive style, characterized by Leone’s trademark use of widescreen cinematography, intense close-ups, and a deliberate pace that builds tension throughout the film.
The iconic musical score, composed by Ennio Morricone, is also widely acclaimed and has become synonymous with the genre.
The film’s exploration of the American West and its portrayal of morally ambiguous characters challenged traditional conventions of the Western genre.
It is known for its grand scale, stunning visuals, and its thematic depth, which delve into issues of justice, the passage of time, and the transformation of the West.
Although the film initially received mixed reviews upon its release, it has since gained a strong following and is considered a classic.
Its influence can be seen in subsequent Western films and its impact on the genre’s evolution. “Once Upon a Time in the West” is recognized for its artistic achievements, powerful performances, and its contribution to the Western genre as a whole.
11. The Best Man (1964)
“The Best Man” is a 1964 American political drama film directed by Franklin J. Schaffner. It is based on the play of the same name by Gore Vidal, who also wrote the screenplay.
The film explores the political machinations and moral dilemmas within a fictional presidential primary campaign.
The story revolves around two presidential candidates vying for their party’s nomination. Henry Fonda portrays William Russell, an intellectual and principled candidate with a distinguished career as a Secretary of State.
His rival, Joe Cantwell, played by Cliff Robertson, is a more ruthless and ambitious contender who will stop at nothing to secure the nomination.
As the campaign unfolds, the film delves into the personal and political lives of the candidates and their associates.
It examines themes of integrity, morality, and the compromises individuals make to achieve power. The characters grapple with issues such as infidelity, blackmail, and the question of how far they are willing to go to win.
“The Best Man” is known for its sharp dialogue, engaging performances, and its exploration of the darker side of politics.
It offers a behind-the-scenes look at the world of political campaigns and exposes the strategic maneuvers, backroom deals, and ethical compromises that can take place in the pursuit of power.
The film tackles important questions about the nature of leadership, the role of personal character in politics, and the impact of personal lives and scandals on public perception. It remains relevant as a reflection on the complexities and challenges of the political arena.
“The Best Man” received positive reviews upon its release and was nominated for several awards, including two Academy Awards for Best Supporting Actor (Lee Tracy) and Best Art Direction.
It is considered a classic political drama and a thought-provoking exploration of the ethical dilemmas inherent in the quest for political power.
12. Advise & Consent (1962)
“Advise & Consent” is a political drama film directed by Otto Preminger and released in 1962. The movie is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Allen Drury.
It delves into the world of American politics, specifically focusing on the confirmation process of a nominee for Secretary of State.
The film explores the behind-the-scenes machinations, power struggles, and ethical dilemmas that unfold as the nominee’s appointment is debated in the United States Senate.
It portrays the intense political maneuvering, lobbying, and personal sacrifices made by politicians to further their agendas and secure their desired outcomes.
“Advise & Consent” features a talented ensemble cast, including Henry Fonda, Charles Laughton, Don Murray, Walter Pidgeon, and Peter Lawford.
The performances are strong, and the film provides a thought-provoking exploration of the moral and ethical challenges faced by those in positions of power.
The movie touches on various themes, such as loyalty, integrity, patriotism, and the clash between personal convictions and political expediency.
It presents a nuanced portrayal of the political process, highlighting the complexities and compromises inherent in the pursuit of power and the enactment of legislation.
“Advise & Consent” is known for its intelligent and dialogue-driven screenplay, which tackles important issues and offers insights into the inner workings of American politics.
The film received critical acclaim upon its release and was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Supporting Actor for Charles Laughton.
Please note that as an AI, I do not have real-time access to specific movie details or recent updates. The information provided here is based on my training up until September 2021.
13. Welcome to Hard Times (1967)
“Welcome to Hard Times” is a Western film released in 1967, based on the novel of the same name by E.L. Doctorow. The movie was directed by Burt Kennedy and starred Henry Fonda in the lead role.
The story is set in the town of Hard Times, a lawless frontier town where violence and chaos reign. Henry Fonda portrays the character of the town’s enigmatic stranger, known only as the Man.
When a ruthless outlaw named Zar arrives in Hard Times and wreaks havoc, the Man takes it upon himself to restore order and bring justice to the town.
As the Man confronts Zar and his gang, he faces numerous challenges and obstacles. He encounters a variety of colorful characters, each with their own motivations and secrets. The film explores themes of morality, courage, and the struggle between good and evil.
“Welcome to Hard Times” stands out from traditional Westerns by its darker and more cynical tone. It presents a harsh and brutal depiction of the Old West, focusing on the town’s descent into lawlessness and the psychological impact it has on its inhabitants.
While the film received mixed reviews upon its release, it has gained a cult following over the years. It is often praised for its atmospheric cinematography, strong performances, and its exploration of moral ambiguity in a lawless frontier setting.
“Welcome to Hard Times” offers a unique perspective on the Western genre, challenging the conventions and presenting a grittier and more introspective take on the Wild West.
14. The Lady Eve (1941)
“The Lady Eve” is a 1941 romantic comedy film directed by Preston Sturges and starring Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck. It tells the story of a con artist named Jean Harrington (Barbara Stanwyck) who sets her sights on a naive and wealthy snake expert named Charles Pike (Henry Fonda) while aboard a cruise ship.
In “The Lady Eve,” Henry Fonda showcases his comedic talent in a role that is quite different from his usual dramatic performances.
He portrays Charles Pike as a socially awkward and intellectual character, whose innocence and lack of experience with women make him an easy target for Jean Harrington’s schemes.
Fonda’s portrayal of Charles Pike is endearing and humorous, as he navigates the humorous misunderstandings and romantic entanglements that arise throughout the film.
“The Lady Eve” is known for its sharp and witty dialogue, clever plot twists, and the undeniable chemistry between Fonda and Stanwyck.
The film’s comedic moments are brought to life by Fonda’s impeccable timing and subtle expressions, adding to the charm and enjoyment of the story.
His performance in “The Lady Eve” demonstrates his versatility as an actor and his ability to excel in both dramatic and comedic roles.
Considered a classic screwball comedy, “The Lady Eve” is celebrated for its clever writing, delightful performances, and its ability to blend romance, humor, and satire seamlessly.
Henry Fonda’s portrayal of Charles Pike contributes to the film’s enduring appeal and solidifies his status as a versatile and talented actor.
15. Jesse James (1939)
“Jesse James” is a Western film released in 1939, directed by Henry King and starring Tyrone Power, Henry Fonda, and Nancy Kelly. The film tells the story of the notorious American outlaw Jesse James and his criminal activities during the post-Civil War era.
The film begins with the James brothers, Jesse (played by Tyrone Power) and Frank (played by Henry Fonda), as Confederate guerrillas during the Civil War.
After the war ends, the brothers return home to Missouri and find themselves disillusioned by the treatment of Confederate veterans and their families.
Feeling oppressed and seeking revenge, Jesse and Frank turn to a life of crime, forming the James-Younger Gang along with their allies, including Cole Younger (played by David Bruce).
They rob banks, stagecoaches, and trains, gaining notoriety throughout the region. However, they are pursued relentlessly by the law, including the determined Pinkerton detective Rixley (played by Henry Hull).
The film portrays Jesse James as a charismatic and sympathetic figure, with an emphasis on his Robin Hood-like persona, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor.
It also explores the mythology surrounding Jesse James, depicting him as a folk hero and an outlaw fighting against perceived injustices.
The character-driven narrative focuses on the relationships within the gang, particularly between Jesse and his brother Frank, as well as their interactions with their respective love interests.
The film also delves into the psychological motivations and internal conflicts of Jesse James as he struggles with his criminal activities and the toll they take on his personal life.
“Jesse James” was a significant success upon its release, capturing the imagination of audiences and contributing to the romanticized image of the American outlaw.
The film is known for its strong performances, lush cinematography, and exciting action sequences. It has since become a classic in the Western genre, and Tyrone Power’s portrayal of Jesse James is considered one of his most memorable roles.
It’s important to note that the film takes a fictionalized approach to Jesse James’ story and is not a historically accurate account of his life.
Many events and characters in the film are embellished or altered for dramatic effect. For a more historically accurate depiction of Jesse James, further research into his life and the numerous books and documentaries available on the subject is recommended.
16. The Boston Strangler (1968)
“The Boston Strangler” is a 1968 American crime drama film directed by Richard Fleischer. The movie is based on the true story of a series of murders that took place in Boston in the early 1960s, committed by a serial killer known as the Boston Strangler.
The film follows the investigation into the string of brutal murders, with a focus on the efforts of Detective John S. Bottomly, played by Henry Fonda, who is determined to catch the elusive killer.
The case proves to be challenging as the Boston Strangler employs different methods and targets a diverse range of victims.
The movie delves into the psychological aspects of the investigation, as Detective Bottomly and his colleagues try to understand the mind of the serial killer.
They face various obstacles, including false confessions, unreliable witnesses, and public pressure to solve the case. As they gather evidence and build a profile of the killer, they must race against time to prevent further killings.
“The Boston Strangler” is known for its intense and suspenseful atmosphere, capturing the fear and paranoia that gripped the city during the actual events. The film also explores the impact of the murders on the community, as people live in fear and suspicion.
While the movie depicts the investigation into the Boston Strangler case, it also delves into the personal lives of the victims and their families, providing a humanizing perspective on the tragic events.
It raises questions about the motives and psychological factors that drive individuals to commit such heinous crimes.
The performances in “The Boston Strangler” are highly regarded, particularly Henry Fonda’s portrayal of the dedicated and determined detective.
The film also features strong supporting performances from actors like Tony Curtis, who plays Albert DeSalvo, a man eventually arrested and convicted for the crimes, though the accuracy of his guilt is still a subject of debate.
“The Boston Strangler” offers a chilling and gripping portrayal of one of America’s most notorious serial killers and the relentless pursuit to bring him to justice.
It explores the dark side of human nature and the challenges faced by law enforcement in solving complex and disturbing crimes.
17. Drums Along the Mohawk (1939)
“Drums Along the Mohawk” is a historical drama film released in 1939, directed by John Ford.
Set during the American Revolutionary War, the film is based on the novel of the same name by Walter D. Edmonds, published in 1936. It stars Claudette Colbert and Henry Fonda in the lead roles.
The story follows a newly married couple, Lana (Claudette Colbert) and Gilbert Martin (Henry Fonda), who settle in the Mohawk Valley of upstate New York.
They face numerous challenges as settlers in the frontier, including conflicts with Native American tribes allied with the British and raids by loyalist soldiers.
The film depicts their struggles to protect their land, their home, and their relationship amidst the chaos and violence of war.
“Drums Along the Mohawk” is notable for its portrayal of the Revolutionary War era and the experiences of settlers on the American frontier.
It captures the hardships faced by early American pioneers, the tensions between settlers and Native Americans, and the impact of war on the lives of ordinary people. The film explores themes of resilience, love, and the endurance of the human spirit in the face of adversity.
Released at a time when war was looming in Europe, the film was seen as a patriotic reflection of American history and values. It was well-received by audiences and critics, earning Academy Award nominations for its cinematography and art direction.
“Drums Along the Mohawk” remains a significant entry in John Ford’s filmography and stands as an early example of the director’s exploration of American history and mythology.
The film showcases his trademark visual style and his ability to portray the struggles and triumphs of ordinary people against the backdrop of larger historical events.
18. Warlock (1959)
“Warlock” is a 1959 American Western film directed by Edward Dmytryk. It is based on the novel of the same name by Oakley Hall.
The film stars Richard Widmark, Henry Fonda, and Anthony Quinn in lead roles and explores themes of law and order, justice, and the complexities of morality in a small Western town.
The story is set in the town of Warlock, where a group of ruthless outlaws led by Abe McQuown (Quinn) terrorizes the community. In response, the townspeople hire a gunslinger and expert tracker named Clay Blaisdell (Widmark) to act as their marshal.
Blaisdell is accompanied by his friend and gambler Tom Morgan (Fonda).
As Blaisdell and Morgan attempt to restore law and order to Warlock, they find themselves caught in a moral dilemma.
Blaisdell’s methods of dealing with the outlaws, though effective, are brutal and tyrannical, leading some townspeople to question their allegiance. Morgan, on the other hand, begins to sympathize with the outlaws and their desire for justice against the oppressive townspeople.
The film delves into the complexities of justice, the rule of law, and the gray areas between right and wrong.
It explores themes of power, vengeance, and the influence of fear on a community. As tensions rise, alliances are tested, and the characters face difficult choices that force them to confront their own moral compasses.
“Warlock” stands out for its psychological depth and its exploration of complex characters. It challenges traditional Western tropes by delving into the psychological motivations and moral struggles of its characters, blurring the line between hero and villain.
The film received critical acclaim for its performances, screenplay, and direction. It is considered a classic of the Western genre, known for its thought-provoking narrative and its examination of the darker aspects of human nature.
“Warlock” offers a nuanced portrayal of morality and justice in a lawless frontier town, making it a compelling and enduring entry in the Western film canon.
19. Madigan (1968)
“Madigan” is a crime drama film directed by Don Siegel and released in 1968. The movie stars Richard Widmark as Detective Daniel Madigan, a tough and determined police detective working in the NYPD.
The film explores the challenges and personal sacrifices faced by Madigan as he investigates a high-profile case.
The story follows Madigan and his partner, Detective Rocco Bonaro (played by Harry Guardino), as they are given 72 hours to track down a criminal who has murdered a wealthy businessman.
As they delve into the gritty underworld of New York City, Madigan faces pressure from his superiors, clashes with criminals, and encounters personal and professional obstacles.
“Madigan” is known for its realistic portrayal of police work and the complexities of the justice system.
The film presents a morally ambiguous world where the line between right and wrong is often blurred. It delves into the psychological toll that the job takes on Madigan and the toll it can have on personal relationships.
The movie showcases the intense and gritty atmosphere of New York City in the late 1960s, capturing its streets, neighborhoods, and the challenges faced by law enforcement in a rapidly changing urban landscape.
“Madigan” received positive reviews upon its release and is praised for its strong performances, particularly Richard Widmark’s portrayal of the titular character. The film’s screenplay, co-written by Abraham Polonsky and Howard Rodman, offers a realistic and character-driven narrative.
Please note that as an AI, I do not have real-time access to specific movie details or recent updates. The information provided here is based on my training up until September 2021.
20. The Male Animal (1942)
“The Male Animal” is a comedy-drama film released in 1942. It was directed by Elliott Nugent and based on the play of the same name by James Thurber and Elliott Nugent. The film stars Henry Fonda, Olivia de Havilland, and Jack Carson in the lead roles.
The story revolves around Tommy Turner (Henry Fonda), a mild-mannered English teacher at a small college.
Tommy is content with his life and his loving wife, Ellen (Olivia de Havilland). However, his peaceful existence is disrupted when Joe Ferguson (Jack Carson), a former college football hero and a loudmouthed radio personality, returns to campus for a visit.
Joe’s arrival stirs up old rivalries and tensions, especially when he begins to flirt with Ellen and challenge Tommy’s authority in front of his students.
This leads to a clash of egos and a battle for dominance between Tommy and Joe. The film explores themes of masculinity, loyalty, and the complexities of marriage.
Throughout the movie, Tommy grapples with the question of whether he should confront Joe and assert his authority or maintain his peaceful nature. The plot also touches upon issues of academic freedom and the importance of standing up for one’s principles.
“The Male Animal” combines humor and social commentary to examine the dynamics of relationships and the conflicts that arise from differing personalities and ambitions.
The film received positive reviews upon its release, particularly for its performances and witty dialogue. It offers an entertaining exploration of gender roles and the complexities of human behavior within the framework of a comedic narrative.
21. The Return of Frank James (1940)
“The Return of Frank James” is a 1940 Western film directed by Fritz Lang and starring Henry Fonda in the titular role. It is a sequel to the 1939 film “Jesse James” and follows the story of Frank James seeking revenge for the murder of his brother, Jesse James.
In “The Return of Frank James,” Henry Fonda delivers a captivating performance as Frank James, the legendary outlaw turned avenger. Fonda portrays Frank as a complex and conflicted character, driven by a desire for justice and revenge.
His portrayal captures the internal struggle of a man torn between seeking retribution and finding closure.
The film explores themes of redemption, loyalty, and the price of vengeance. Fonda’s performance brings depth and intensity to Frank James, showcasing his ability to portray a rugged and determined character with conviction.
He effortlessly embodies the iconic cowboy archetype, exuding a sense of strength and quiet determination throughout the film.
“The Return of Frank James” blends elements of action, drama, and suspense, creating a compelling narrative that keeps audiences engaged.
Fonda’s portrayal of Frank James adds a layer of emotional depth to the film, elevating it beyond a typical Western. His performance contributes to the film’s success and solidifies its place as a notable entry in the Western genre.
Overall, “The Return of Frank James” highlights Henry Fonda’s talent for bringing complex characters to life, even within the framework of a Western. His portrayal of Frank James remains one of the memorable performances in his extensive filmography.
22. How the West Was Won (1962)
“How the West Was Won” is a 1962 American epic Western film directed by John Ford, Henry Hathaway, and George Marshall. It is known for its sprawling scope, wide-ranging storyline, and star-studded cast.
The film follows several generations of a family, the Prescotts, as they journey through various events and adventures that shape the American West from the 1830s to the early 20th century.
The story is divided into five distinct segments, each directed by one of the three directors.
The segments include:
“The Rivers”: It depicts the family’s journey along the Ohio River and their encounters with river pirates, played by Walter Brennan and Lee Van Cleef.
“The Plains”: The Prescotts face the challenges of crossing the Great Plains in covered wagons, dealing with conflicts with Native Americans, and participating in the California Gold Rush.
“The Civil War”: Set during the American Civil War, this segment focuses on the family’s divided loyalties as some members fight for the Union Army while others join the Confederacy.
“The Railroad”: This part portrays the family’s involvement in the construction of the First Transcontinental Railroad and the conflicts with outlaws.
“The Outlaws”: The final segment centers around the story of Zeb Rawlings (played by James Stewart), a former Union Army officer turned marshal, as he confronts a notorious outlaw gang led by the character portrayed by George Peppard.
“How the West Was Won” showcases the vast landscapes of the American West, capturing the spirit of adventure, exploration, and conquest during this period of history.
The film features an ensemble cast, including iconic actors such as John Wayne, Henry Fonda, Gregory Peck, James Stewart, Debbie Reynolds, and many others.
It is notable for its widescreen Cinerama format, which offers a visually stunning experience with its panoramic shots and grand scale. The film incorporates a mix of action, drama, romance, and historical events to present an epic narrative of the westward expansion of the United States.
“How the West Was Won” received critical acclaim upon its release and won three Academy Awards, including Best Original Screenplay and Best Sound. It remains a classic example of the Western genre and a cinematic tribute to the pioneers who shaped the American West.
24. The Fugitive (1947)
“The Fugitive” is a 1947 film noir directed by John Ford. It is based on the novel “The Power and the Glory” by Graham Greene. The film stars Henry Fonda as a Catholic priest on the run in a fictional Latin American country during a period of anti-clericalism.
The story follows Father John (Henry Fonda), a nameless Catholic priest known as “The Fugitive,” who is being pursued by the authorities. In the midst of political turmoil and religious persecution, Father John is sought after for practicing his faith, which has been outlawed by the government.
As he tries to evade capture, Father John encounters various individuals who challenge his faith, including a police lieutenant played by Pedro Armendáriz. The lieutenant is both determined to capture Father John and conflicted about his own beliefs.
The film explores themes of faith, redemption, and the power of religious conviction in the face of adversity. It delves into the moral dilemmas faced by Father John as he struggles with his own faith and the responsibility he feels towards the people who seek his spiritual guidance.
“The Fugitive” showcases Henry Fonda’s nuanced performance as a conflicted and tormented priest. The film’s atmospheric cinematography and Ford’s direction add to the tension and emotional depth of the story.
While the film takes place in a fictional Latin American setting, it also serves as a commentary on religious persecution and the suppression of faith in society. It raises questions about the role of religion and the individual’s struggle for personal and spiritual freedom.
“The Fugitive” received critical acclaim upon its release and is considered one of John Ford’s lesser-known but impactful works. It stands as a compelling exploration of faith and morality in the face of persecution, offering a thought-provoking narrative within the film noir genre.
25. Jezebel (1938)
“Jezebel” is a drama film directed by William Wyler and released in 1938. The movie stars Bette Davis in the lead role as Julie Marsden, a headstrong and independent woman living in the antebellum South. The film explores themes of love, pride, and societal expectations within the backdrop of pre-Civil War America.
Set in 1850s New Orleans, “Jezebel” follows Julie Marsden as she defies social conventions and customs by wearing a scandalous red dress to a formal ball.
Her actions provoke outrage and condemnation from the community, including her fiancé Preston Dillard (played by Henry Fonda). The film delves into the consequences of her defiance and her subsequent attempts to win back the man she loves.
The story of “Jezebel” is a character-driven narrative that delves into the complexities of relationships, the struggle for independence, and the limitations placed on women in a rigid and hierarchical society.
Bette Davis delivers a powerful performance as Julie Marsden, earning her an Academy Award for Best Actress.
“Jezebel” is known for its lush and atmospheric cinematography, capturing the elegance and decadence of the Old South. The film tackles themes of pride, honor, and redemption, offering a critique of societal expectations and the limitations placed on women during that era.
The film received critical acclaim upon its release and was a commercial success. It was nominated for several Academy Awards, including Best Picture. “Jezebel” is regarded as one of Bette Davis’ most iconic roles and is often considered a classic of American cinema.
3 Characteristics of Henry Fonda Movies
Henry Fonda, one of Hollywood’s most iconic actors, was known for his distinctive style and versatility. Here are three characteristics commonly associated with Henry Fonda movies:
Intensity and Depth: Fonda was known for his ability to bring a profound sense of intensity and depth to his characters.
Whether portraying heroic figures or complex individuals with inner turmoil, he had a commanding screen presence that drew audiences in.
Fonda’s performances often showcased a quiet strength, a simmering intensity, and a thoughtful approach to his roles, which added layers of complexity to his characters.
Naturalism and Authenticity: Fonda had a naturalistic acting style that emphasized realism and authenticity. He had a way of portraying characters in a believable and relatable manner, making it easy for audiences to connect with them.
Fonda’s performances were marked by his ability to capture subtle nuances, express emotions through understated gestures and facial expressions, and deliver lines with sincerity. His commitment to realism made his characters feel genuine and grounded.
Moral Integrity and Idealism: Many of Henry Fonda’s most memorable roles showcased characters with a strong sense of moral integrity and idealism.
Fonda often portrayed individuals who stood up for justice, fought against injustice, and championed noble causes.
His characters were often driven by a strong sense of right and wrong, and Fonda effectively conveyed their unwavering dedication to their principles.
Whether playing lawmen, heroes, or everyday individuals faced with moral dilemmas, Fonda’s performances often embodied a sense of decency and moral compass.
These characteristics contributed to the enduring appeal of Henry Fonda’s movies and solidified his status as one of Hollywood’s most respected and admired actors.
3 Reasons To Watch Henry Fonda Movies
Iconic Performances: Henry Fonda was a masterful actor known for his remarkable performances. Watching his movies allows you to witness his incredible talent and range as he brings diverse characters to life.
From intense dramas to lighthearted comedies, Fonda’s ability to embody his roles with authenticity and depth is truly captivating. His on-screen presence and powerful delivery make his performances a must-see for any film enthusiast.
Classic Films: Fonda starred in numerous classic films that have stood the test of time. These movies not only showcase his acting prowess but also represent significant contributions to the cinematic landscape.
From timeless dramas like “12 Angry Men” (1957) to legendary Westerns like “Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968), Fonda’s filmography is filled with iconic works that continue to be celebrated and referenced in popular culture.
Watching these films allows you to appreciate the enduring impact of Fonda’s work and the lasting value of these cinematic treasures.
Exploration of American Cinema: Henry Fonda’s career spanned several decades, allowing you to witness the evolution of American cinema through his films.
From the Golden Age of Hollywood to the New Hollywood era, Fonda worked with esteemed directors and collaborated on films that reflected the changing times.
His movies provide a window into the rich history of American cinema, offering insights into different genres, storytelling styles, and social contexts.
Exploring Fonda’s filmography allows you to delve into the artistic and cultural aspects of American filmmaking and gain a deeper understanding of its progression over the years.
In summary, watching Henry Fonda movies provides an opportunity to witness iconic performances, enjoy classic films, and explore the evolution of American cinema.
Whether you’re a fan of his dramatic roles, appreciate his comedic timing, or simply want to delve into the rich tapestry of film history, Fonda’s movies offer an enriching and enjoyable cinematic experience.
Best Henry Fonda Movies – Wrap Up
Henry Fonda was a highly acclaimed American actor known for his versatility and memorable performances. Here’s a wrap-up of some of the best movies featuring Henry Fonda:
“The Grapes of Wrath” (1940) – Fonda plays the role of Tom Joad, a young man who joins his family on a journey to California during the Great Depression.
The film, directed by John Ford, is a powerful adaptation of John Steinbeck’s novel and earned Fonda his first Academy Award nomination.
“12 Angry Men” (1957) – In this courtroom drama, Fonda portrays Juror No. 8, who questions the guilt of a young man accused of murder.
Fonda’s nuanced performance in the film, directed by Sidney Lumet, showcases his ability to command the screen in a character-driven ensemble piece.
“The Ox-Bow Incident” (1943) – Fonda stars as Gil Carter, one of the cowboys caught up in a mob seeking vigilante justice in a small Western town. The film explores themes of mob mentality, moral responsibility, and the consequences of unchecked power.
“Young Mr. Lincoln” (1939) – Directed by John Ford, this biographical drama portrays the early life and career of Abraham Lincoln. Fonda delivers a compelling performance as the young lawyer, showcasing his talent for portraying integrity and strength of character.
“My Darling Clementine” (1946) – Fonda portrays Wyatt Earp in this Western film directed by John Ford. The film focuses on the events leading up to the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and features Fonda’s portrayal of the iconic lawman with depth and authenticity.
“Once Upon a Time in the West” (1968) – Fonda breaks away from his traditional hero roles to play the ruthless and villainous character Frank in Sergio Leone’s epic Western. Fonda’s against-type performance is a standout in the film and demonstrates his versatility as an actor.
These are just a few of the notable films in Henry Fonda’s career, but they represent the range and talent he brought to the screen. Fonda’s performances continue to be celebrated and his impact on cinema remains influential to this day.