Henry Fonda


Henry Jaynes Fonda (May 16, 1905 – August 12, 1982) was an American film and stage actor who had a career that spanned five decades in Hollywood. Fonda cultivated a strong, appealing screen image in several films now considered to be classics. He was the patriarch of a family of famous actors, including daughter Jane Fonda, son Peter Fonda, granddaughter Bridget Fonda, and grandson Troy Garity. His family and close friends called him “Hank”. In 1999 he was named the sixth-Greatest Male Screen Legend of the Classic Hollywood Era (stars with a film debut by 1950) by the American Film Institute. He won the Academy Award for Best Actor at the 54th Academy Awards for his final film role in On Golden Pond (1981), which also starred Katharine Hepburn and his daughter Jane, but was too ill to attend the ceremony. He died from heart disease a few months later.

Fonda made his mark early as a Broadway actor and made his Hollywood film debut in 1935, in Victor Fleming‘s The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935), with Janet Gaynor and Charles Bickford. His film career began to gain momentum with roles such as Bette Davis’s fiancée in her Academy Award-winning performance in William Wyler‘s Jezebel (1938), brother Frank in Henry King‘s Jesse James (1939), with Tyrone Power, Nancy Kelly, and Randolph Scott; and the future President in John Ford‘s Young Mr. Lincoln (1939). His early career peaked with his Academy Award-nominated performance as Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath (1940), about an Oklahoma family who moved to California during the Dust Bowl 1930s. This film is widely considered to be among the greatest American films, based on a novel of the same name by Nobel Laurette for literature, John Steinbeck.

In 1941 he starred opposite Barbara Stanwyck in Preston Sturges‘ screwball comedy classic The Lady Eve. Book-ending his service in WWII were his starring roles in two highly regarded westerns: William A. Wellman’s The Ox-Bow Incident (1943), with Dana Andrews, Mary Beth Hughes, Anthony Quinn, William Eythe, Harry Morgan, and Jane Darwell; and Ford’s My Darling Clementine (1946), with Victor Mature, Linda Darnell, Walter Brennan, Tim Holt, Cathy Downs, and Ward Bond; along with Ford’s western Fort Apache (1948), with John Wayne, Shirley Temple, and Victor McLaglen.

After a seven-year break from films, during which Fonda focused on stage productions, he returned with the WWII war-boat ensemble Mister Roberts (1955), with James Cagney, William Powell, and Jack Lemmon. In 1956, at the age of fifty-one, he played the title role as the thirty-eight-year-old Manny Balestrero in Alfred Hitchcock‘s thriller The Wrong Man, with Vera Miles. In 1957 he starred as Juror No.8, the hold-out juror, in Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men. Fonda, who was also the co-producer of this film, won the BAFTA award for Best Foreign Actor.

Later in his career, Fonda moved into darker roles, such as the villain in Sergio Leone‘s epic Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), with Claudia Cardinale, Jason Robards, and Charles Bronson. It was a box office disappointment at its time of release, but now regarded as one of the best westerns of all time. He also played in lighter-hearted fare such as Yours, Mine and Ours (1968), with Lucille Ball; but also often played important military figures, such as a colonel in Battle of the Bulge (1965), with Robert Shaw, Telly Savalas, Robert Ryan, Dana Andrews, and Bronson; and Admiral Nimitz in Midway (1976), with Charlton Heston, James Coburn, Glenn Ford, Ed Nelson, Hal Holbrook, Toshiro Mifune, Robert Mitchum, Cliff Robertson, Robert Wagner, James Shigeta, Pat Morita, John Fujioka, Robert Ito, and Christina Kokubo.

Other notable films include Ford’s Drums Along the Mohawk (1939), with Claudette Colbert and John Carradine; Lang’s The Return of Frank James (1940), with Gene Tierney; Chad Hanna (1940), with Linda Darnell and Dorothy Lamour; The Male Animal (1942), with Olivia de Havilland and Joan Leslie; Tales of Manhattan (1942), with Charles Boyer, Rita Hayworth, Ginger Rogers, Charles Laughton, Edward G. Robinson, Ethel Waters, Paul Robeson, and W.C. Fields; Immortal Sergeant (1943), with Maureen O’Hara; The Long Night (1947), with Barbara Bel Geddes, Vincent Price, and Ann Dvorak; Daisy Kenyon (1947), with Joan Crawford; and On Our Merry Way (1948), with Paulette Goddard, Burgess Meredith, James Stewart, Harry James, Dorothy Lamour, Victor Moore, and Fred MacMurray.

Roles in the 50s and 60s include King Vidor‘s War and Peace (1956), with Audrey Hepburn, Mel Ferrer, Oskar Homolka, Vittorio Gassman, Herbert Lom, John Mills, and Anita Ekberg; Anthony Mann‘s The Tin Star (1957), with Anthony Perkins; Stage Struck (1958), with Susan Strasberg and Christopher Plummer; Warlock (1959), with Richard Widmark, Anthony Quinn, and Dorothy Malone; The Man Who Understood Women (1959), with Leslie Caron, Renate Hoy, and Cesare Danova; the epic, Otto Preminger‘s Advise & Consent (1962), with Charles Laughton, Don Murray, Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford, Tierney, and Betty White; ensemble western How the West Was Won (1962), with Carroll Baker, Lee J. Cobb, Carolyn Jones, Karl Malden, Gregory Peck, George Peppard, Robert Preston, Debbie Reynolds, Stewart, Eli Wallach, Wayne, and Richard Widmark; Sex and the Single Girl (1964), with Tony Curtis, Natalie Wood, Lauren Bacall, and Ferrer; In Harm’s Way (1965), with Wayne, Kirk Douglas, Patricia Neal, Tom Tryon, Paula Prentiss, Stanley Holloway, Burgess Meredith, Brandon deWilde, Jill Haworth, Dana Andrews, snd Franchot Tone; Don Siegel‘s TV movie Strangers on the Run (1967), with Ann Baxter, Michael Parks, and Sal Mineo; Siegel’s Madigan (1968), with Richard Widmark and Inger Stevens; and The Boston Strangler (1968), with Curtis, George Kennedy, Murray Hamilton, and Sally Kellerman.

Films in the 70s include Robert Aldrich‘s Too Late the Hero (1970), with Michael Caine, Cliff Robertson, Ken Takakura, Denholm Elliott, Ian Bannen, Lance Percival, Ronald Fraser, Harry Andrews, and Percy Herbert; Gene Kelly‘s The Cheyenne Social Club (1970), with Stewart and Shirley Jones; Sometimes a Great Notion (1971), with Paul Newman (who also directed), Michael Sarrazin, and Lee Remick; Night Flight from Moscow (1973), with Yul Brynner, Dirk Bogarde, and Philippe Noiret; Ash Wednesday (1973), with Elizabeth Taylor; Last Days of Mussolini (1974), with Rod Steiger, Franco Nero, and Lisa Gastoni; Tentacles (1977), with John Huston, Shelley Winters, and Bo Hopkins; Billy Wilder‘s Fedora (1978), with William Holden and Marthe Keller; City on Fire (1979), with Barry Newman, Susan Clark, Shelley Winters, Leslie Nielsen, James Franciscus, and Ava Gardner; and Ronald Neame‘s Meteor (1979), with Sean Connery, Wood, Karl Malden, Brian Keith, Martin Landau, Trevor Howard, Joseph Campanella, and Richard Dysart.

Each review will be linked to the title below.

(*seen originally in theaters)

(**seen rereleased in theaters)

  • The Farmer Takes a Wife (1935) – directed by Victor Fleming
  • Way Down East (1935) – directed by Henry King
  • I Dream Too Much (1935) – directed by John Cromwell
  • The Trail of the Lonesome Pine (1936) – directed by Henry Hathaway
  • The Moon’s Our Home (1936) – directed by William A. Seiter
  • Spendthrift (1936) – directed by Raoul Walsh
  • Wings of the Morning (1937) – directed by Harold D. Schuster
  • You Only Live Once (1937) – directed by Fritz Lang
  • Slim (1937) – directed by Ray Enright
  • That Certain Woman (1937) – directed by Edmund Goulding
  • I Met My Love Again (1938) – directed by Joshua Logan, Arthur Ridley, & George Cukor (uncredited)
  • Jezebel (1938) – directed by William Wyler
  • Blockade (1938) – directed by William Dieterle
  • Spawn of the North (1938) – directed by Henry Hathaway
  • The Mad Miss Manton (1938) – directed by Leigh Jason
  • Jesse James (1939) – directed by Henry King
  • Let Us Live (1939) – directed by John Brahm
  • The Story of Alexander Graham Bell (1939) – directed by Irving Cummings
  • Young Mr. Lincoln (1939) – directed by John Ford
  • Drums Along the Mohawk (1939) – directed by John Ford
  • The Grapes of Wrath (1940) – directed by John Ford
  • Lillian Russell (1940) – directed by Irving Cummings
  • The Return of Frank James (1940) – directed by Fritz Lang
  • Chad Hanna (1940) – directed by Henry King
  • The Lady Eve (1941) – directed by Preston Sturges
  • Wild Geese Calling (1941) – directed by John Brahm
  • You Belong to Me (1941) – directed by Wesley Ruggles
  • The Male Animal (1942) – directed by Elliott Nugent
  • Rings on Her Fingers (1942) – directed by Rouben Mamoulian
  • The Magnificent Dope (1942) – directed by Walter Lang – aka Lazy Galahad, Strictly Dynamite and The Magnificent Jerk
  • Tales of Manhattan (1942) – directed by Julien Duviver
  • The Big Street (1942) – directed by Irving Reis
  • Immortal Sergeant (1943) – directed by John M. Stahl
  • The Ox-Bow Incident (1943) – directed by William A. Wellman
  • My Darling Clementine (1946) – directed by John Ford
  • The Long Night (1947) – directed by Anatole Litvak
  • The Fugitive (1947) – directed by John Ford
  • Daisy Kenyon (1947) – directed by Otto Preminger
  • On Our Merry Way (1948) – directed by by Leslie Fenton & King Vidor
  • Fort Apache (1948) – directed by John Ford
  • Jigsaw (1949) – directed by Fletcher Markle – uncredited
  • Mister Roberts (1955) – directed by John Ford, Mervyn LeRoy & Joshua Logan (uncredited)
  • War and Peace (1956) – directed by King Vidor
  • The Wrong Man (1956) – directed by Alfred Hitchcock
  • 12 Angry Men (1957) – directed by Sidney Lumet – also producer
  • The Tin Star (1957) – directed by Anthony Mann
  • Stage Struck (1958) – directed by Sidney Lumet
  • Warlock (1959) – directed by Edward Dmytryk
  • The Man Who Understood Women (1959) – directed by Nunnally Johnson
  • Advise & Consent (1962) – directed by Otto Preminger
  • The Longest Day (1962) – directed by Ken Annakin, Andrew Marton, & Bernhard Wicki
  • How the West Was Won (1962) – directed by Henry Hathaway, John Ford, & George Marshall
  • Spencer’s Mountain (1963) – directed by Delmar Daves
  • The Best Man (1964) – Franklin J. Schaffner
  • Fail Safe (1964) – directed by Sidney Lumet
  • Sex and the Single Girl (1964) – directed by Richard Quine
  • The Rounders (1965) – directed by Burt Kennedy
  • In Harm’s Way (1965) – directed by Otto Preminger
  • The Dirty Game (1965) – directed by Christian-Jacque, Werner Kingler, Carlo Lizzani, & Terrence Young – anthology
  • Battle of the Bulge (1965) – directed by Ken Annakin
  • A Big Hand for the Little Lady (1966) – directed by Fielder Cook – aka Big Deal at Dodge City
  • Welcome to Hard Times (1967) – directed by Burt Kennedy
  • Stranger on the Run (1967) – directed by Don Siegel – TV movie
  • Firecreek (1968) – directed by Vincent McEveety
  • Madigan (1968) – directed by Don Siegel
  • Yours, Mine and Ours (1968) – directed by Melville Shavelson
  • The Boston Strangler (1968) – directed by Richard Fleischer
  • Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) – directed by Sergio Leone
  • Too Late the Hero (1970) – directed by Robert Aldrich
  • The Cheyenne Social Club (1970) – directed by Gene Kelly
  • There Was a Crooked Man… (1970) – directed by Joseph L. Mankiewicz
  • Howdy (1970) – directed by Seymour Berns – TV movie
  • Sometimes a Great Notion (1971) – directed by Paul Newman – aka Never Give an Inch
  • The Red Pony (1973) – directed by Robert Totten
  • Night Flight from Moscow (1973) – directed by Henri Verneuil – aka The Serpent
  • The Alpha Caper (1973) – directed by Robert Michael Lewis – aka The Inside Job – TV movie
  • Ash Wednesday (1973) – directed by Larry Peerce
  • My Name Is Nobody (1973) – directed by Tonino Valerii
  • Last Days of Mussolini (1974) – directed by Carlo Lizzani – aka The Last 4 Days
  • Clarence Darrow (1974) – directed by John Rich – TV movie
  • Parker Anderson, Philosopher (1974) – directed by Arthur Barron – TV short
  • The Music School (1974) – directed by John Korty – TV short
  • Collision Course: Truman vs. MacArthur (1976) – directed by Anthony Page – TV movie
  • Midway (1976) – directed by Jack Smight – aka Battle of Midway
  • Bernice Bobs Her Hair (1976) – directed by Joan Micklin Silver – TV short
  • Tentacles (1977) – directed by Ovidio G. Assonitis
  • I’m a Fool (1977) – directed by Noel Black – TV short
  • The Displaced Person (1977) – directed by Glenn Jordan – TV movie
  • Rollercoaster (1977) – directed by James Goldstone
  • The Great Smokey Roadblock (1977) – directed by John Leone – aka The Goodbye Run and The Last of the Cowboys
  • The Blue Hotel (1977) – directed by Ján Kadár – TV movie
  • The Greatest Battle (1978) – directed by Umberto Lenzi – aka The Biggest Battle and Battle Force
  • Home to Stay (1978) – directed by Delbert Mann – TV movie
  • Fedora (1978) – directed by Billy Wilder
  • The Swarm (1978) – directed by Irwin Allen
  • City on Fire (1979) – directed by Alvin Rakoff
  • Wanda Nevada (1979) – directed by Peter Fonda
  • Meteor (1979) – directed by Ronald Neame
  • Barn Burning (1980) – directed by Peter Werner – TV movie
  • The Oldest Living Graduate (1980) – directed by Jack Hofsiss – TV movie
  • Gideon’s Trumpet (1980) – directed by Robert Collins – TV movie
  • On Golden Pond (1981) – directed by Mark Rydell
  • Summer Solstice (1981) – directed by Ralph Rosenblum