The Return of Frank James (1940) Script

[Birds Chirping]

Whoa, Dan!

- Pinky! Yes, sir.

- Come over here. Yes, sir.

Take him back to the barn. I'm going up to the house.

Clem oughta be getting in from town. Yes, sir, Mr. Frank.

Pinky. Yes, sir?

Ain't you never gonna learn? What's my name?

Why, uh, Woodson. Mr. Ben Woodson, sir.

Why do you call me Mr. Frank? Ain't it just as easy to say Mr. Ben?

Well, seein' as I been calling you Mr. Frank ever since you were knee-high to nothin'... ain't no harm in callin' you Mr. Frank when ain't nobody around here, is there?

Except that one day you're gonna forget and bawl out Mr. Frank when folks is around.

Pinky, FrankJames isn't hiding in these hills. He's dead.

Dead? W Well, you ain't dead.

You callin' me a liar? - Oh, no, sir. No, sirree, but-

Ain't no buts about it, Pinky. FrankJames is dead and buried and underground.

Yes, sure. Sure he's dead and buried and under the ground and rotted.

Now remember. Yes, I'll remember, Mr. Frank.

Jesse They killed him!

Jesse dead? Yeah. Shot through the back when he weren't lookin'.

Ain't no other way they could have gotJesse. They know who done it?

Sure they know. It was them sneakin' cowards, Bob and Charlie Ford.

Bob and Charlie, huh?

Poor Zee and the baby.

Frank, can I go with you?

Go with me?

Well, I know you don't need any help, but-

I reckon I don't, seein' as I ain't aimin' to do anything.


Ain't no more to be said now.

Tell Pinky to rustle up some supper.

Gosh, I was so sure you'd wanna light out after them Fords...

I bought me a gun.

- [Hammer Clicks] Hand it over.

I used my own money.

Hand it over.

You're getting too big for your britches, son.

You got no call to be totin' a gun.

Well, I figured if there was any trouble-

There ain't gonna be no trouble.

Listen, son.

When your father was killed up at Northfield...

I brought you down here hopin' you'd grow up to be a regular hardworkin' man.

So far I got no complaints.

We've been gettin' along fine, you and me... workin', mindin' our own business.

We bothered nobody. Nobody's bothered us.

Ain't what them Fords done bothered you none?

The courts will take care of the Fords.

Supposin' they don't? I'm supposin' they will.

WhateverJesse done, he was murdered, and the law don't hold with murder.

Frank, if nothin' gonna happen to them Fords... ain't some folks gonna think that...

- well, maybe you're- - Scared?

Well? What do you think?

Oh, I know you ain't scared. You ain't scared of anything.

But, gosh, I wish you and me, we could-

Vittles is ready. Sit down, Mr. Frank.

I mean, Mr. Ben. I mean, Mr. Ben.

[Singsong] Mr. Frank is dead. I mean, Mr. Ben, Mr. Frank is dead.

So I mean, Mr. Ben, mmm, Mr. Ben, I mean, Mr. Ben, Mr. Frank is dead.

So, I mean, Mr. Ben. I mean, Mr. Ben. I mean, Mr. Ben, Mr. Frank is dead.

Sinners, sons of Belial... prepare for the vengeance of the Lord.

The day of reckoning is mighty close.

You'll catch it hip and thigh if you don't get to repentin'. And get to it quick.

Hellfire's awaitin' you. Are you ready to meet your Maker?

I reckon so.

You willing to stand before the judgment seat with a chaw of tobacco in your mouth?

Lost souls, that's what you all are.

Black with sin. Black with iniquity.

The light of the Lord ain't in any of you.

Do you ever think of salvation? Do you ever think of the Kingdom?

No. All you ever think of is your bellies and your cornpone... and your chitlins and your corn liquor.

Brother, how about a swig of that jug?

Ain't hard liquor, is it? No, plain spring water.


Crop all in? Yeah.

You from town? - Uh-huh.

Any news? Hogs is up two cents.

- Good. You remember about them Ford boys?

- The fellas that killed JesseJames? Yeah.

I "heared" at the telegraph office they're gonna be hanged. You don't tell me.

Uh-huh. Jury found them guilty of murderin'Jesse.

Don't know why though, bein' as there's a reward out for his killin'.

Revival meetin' at Clinton tomorrow night.

Be there, brother. It's me and the devil and no holds barred.

[Clicking Tongue] Giddap!

Law's all right, huh?

"Beatenest" thing I ever did see.

It's like I figured, ain't a jury in western Missouri... would stand for shooting a friend when he ain't lookin', no matter what he done.

That'll be a lesson to you, son.

What about us going over to that revival meeting tomorrow night?

I think it's safe enough if I sort of stay in the shadows.

I reckon you'd like to see some other folks once in a while.

Oh, I ain't hankerin' to see no other folks.

But let's go fishin' tomorrow, you and me, huh?

Sure, son, sure.

Here it is, Mr. Frank.

[Rooster Crows]

Ain't they hangin' 'em?

No, they let them off and give them the reward money.

I knowed that preacher man heared wrong.

It's just like my pappy always said...

"There ain't no law for the poor folks except the end of a gun. "

Hush up.

I was certain sure they wasn't gonna do nothin'.

Did they ever do anything for our kind of folks? No.

McCoy and his railroad stole your farm and killed your mother. What happened? Nothin'.

And that timeJesse give hisself up. Did the law treat him right?


Pinky, saddle the horses.

- Yes, sir! Just my horse.

- Yes, sir. You ain't goin' nowheres.

Oh, please, Frank. I won't get in the way.

You and Pinky gotta stay here and look after the farm. I won't be gone long.

Oh, Pinky can take care of things. There ain't much to do right now.

The fence has gotta be finished. The stock's gotta be taken care of.

Anyways, you're too young. I'm no baby. I'm grown up.

Ain't no use arguin', Clem. The Fords is my affair personal... and you ain't goin' with me.

Pinky, I'm leavin' Clem in your charge.

Don't let him get out of your sight. No, sir.

See he studies his figurin' and his readin'. Yes, sir, Mr. Frank.

If you want me for anything important, Major Cobb will know where I am.

- Good-bye, Pinky. Good-bye, son. - Good- bye, sir.

Look after things while I'm gone too.

Hello, Joe. Hello, Fred. Hello.

Didn't know you boys could read. [Laughing]

Hello, Connie. How's your pa?


Whiskey. What'll it be, boys? Bob Ford's buyin'.

Have a drink, Major. I don't drink with rats.

Watch out, Major. No danger. The Fords only shoot at backs.

You tryin' to make trouble? No, but if I had my way-

You had your way. You and your stinkin' paper... did everything you could to hang us, didn't ya?

Well, we're free now, and we got the reward money.

There isn't a thing you can do about it. Come, come, gentlemen.

Let bygones be bygones. TheJames case is a closed issue.

Not by a gosh-dang sight it ain't.

And it won't be closed tillJesse's brother's paid for every dad-blasted drop of it.

Your hands ain't any too clean either, Runyan.

Mine? What have I done?

As an officer employed by the railroad, naturally I-

Oh, don't pay any attention to the old buzzard. Talk, talk, that's all he can do.

Yeah, that's about all I can do.

But thoseJames boys are mighty peculiar. Mighty peculiar.

Jesse's gone, that's true. Maybe Frank's gone too.

And then again, maybe he ain't.

The boys always had a mighty peculiar way of turning up... just when you least expected them.

Mighty peculiar.

What are your plans?

I'm going out West to see a friend of mine.



Now read it back to me, Roy.

"If we're ever gonna have law and order in this part of the country...

"we gotta take vipers like those Fords...

"and that slimy railroad detective Runyan... and shoot 'em down like dogs. "

Right. Now, paragraph.

"Furthermore, we've got to abolish the pardoning power"-

[Rhythmic Whistling]

[Chuckles] Better go back and get your supper, Roy.

Yes, sir.

[Quietly] Come in, Frank, come in. Come in!

I knew you'd be along this way soon, but you're a wee bit late.

Late? Ain't they here? No. They's gone out of town a few hours ago.

Yeah, yeah, get away from this window.

Now, now, come on. Sit down and tell me all about yourself and your folks.

Here. Here. Have a drink.

Well, family's all right. They're in Kansas City. Yeah?

About me? There ain't nothin' to tell.

I've been hiding out down in the Ozarks, farmin'. Heard aboutJesse.

Frank, it was the dirtiest, rottenest, sneakiest that ever was.

Oh, Jesse may have had killin' comin' to him. I ain't denyin' that.

But to be shot in the back by a couple of fellas that was like brothers to you... with a weapon you give them yourself.

I know, but about this pardon- All part of the same piece.

McCoy put the Fords up to the killin', then got 'em the pardon and the reward.

McCoy, huh? Yeah.

Got no idea at all where the Fords went to?

None whatever, exceptin' they took the cars west.

What you aimin'to do?

Sure like to meet up with Bob and Charlie.

Old friends of mine, you know.

Yeah, yeah, yeah, I know. I know.

Well, I'll be movin' along.

Well, good huntin', Frank.

I'll let you know where I am. All right.

Good night, Major. Hold on. Hold on, son, hold on.


Come on. Come on.

Bye, son.


Yes, sir. Get out them obituaries of the Fords... and set 'em up in type. Yes, sir.

[Hoofbeats Approaching]

Giddap! Giddap!

Pinky. What are you doing here?

That boy Clem done run away. Run away? When?

Just after you left. He hopped on his horse and scat.

I tried to stop him, but he nearly knocked me over.

That boy's harder to hold than a handful of bumblebees.

Y'all find what you're looking for, sir?

No, Pinky, they ain't here. They lit out for the West somewheres.

Mm, must have got a feeling. You goin' out after them, sir?

Yeah, but not for a while maybe. I gotta get me some money.

You ain't figurin' on no robbin', is ya?

No, Pinky, them days is far behind me.

Praise the Lord, Mr. Frank. Praise the Lord.

Pinky, I'm a-thinkin'. About what, Mr. Frank?

It was McCoy money that putJesse in his grave back there, wasn't it?

Then ain't it fittin' I use McCoy money to get the Fords?

What'd you say, Mr. Frank?

Yeah, that's right.

Tomorrow's the 15th, ain't it? Yes, sir, it's the 15th.

St. Louis Midland pays off the first and the 15th.

Money oughta be in the express office tonight. Oh, Mr. Frank.

Pinky, go back to the farm right away and stay there. Yes, sir, sir.

If Clem shows up, tell him I'm gonna brush the britches right off of him.

Yes, sir, Mr. Frank. Good-bye, Pinky.

Good-bye, Mr. Frank. And God bless you, sir.

[Door Opens]

Good evenin'.

Kinda chilly for spring, ain't it?

Yeah, a nip in the air. What's on your mind, friend?

Well, I got this to send out.

Can't you send it in the mornin', can't ya? No. Wanna get it on the 4:15.

Oh, all right. Can you write?

Yes, sir, after a fashion.

All right.

Then fill out this blank.

- Reach, brother. I-I'm a-reachin'.

I got a notion when I come in you was kind of sleepy.

Suppose you lay down and rest a while. Huh?


Flat on your face.

Now lay there still and don't let me hear a peep out of you.

You'll hear nothin' from me, brother. I wanna be around for breakfast.

Go to sleep. I'll wake you up before I go.

Get down. Yes, sir.

[Cocks Gun]


What are you doin' here? I've been followin' ya. I was watchin' outside.

- And when you didn't come out- You fool, I almost shot you.

Now get outta here and back to the farm before I skin you alive. Git!

- [Gunshot] Bolt the door.

Keep your eye on the watchman.

Where'd that shot come from?

Down here, Sid. Come on!

What's up? There's a shot!

Seemed to come from in there. You and you, get a ram, break that door down.

A couple of you men get around to the rear.

Come on, the back way.

Come on, boys, break 'er down! Get in there!

- Come on. [Men Clamoring]

[Pounding Continues]


You afraid? No.

Come on.

[Pounding Continues]


Hyah! Giddap! Hyah!

I'm sorry about what I done, Frank.

You might have been killed.

Well, I guess there ain't nothin' to be done about it now.

They'll be wanting me too.

I tell you, there isn't the slightest doubt about it.

I know a James boy job when I see one.

[Chuckles] I ought to, I've seen enough of them.

It was Frank James... and I'm offering another reward of $10,000.

I'll wipe him out, just like I did his brother.

Mr. McCoy, with your permission...

I should like to leave at once for the West.

What for? To see if I can locate Charles and Bob Ford.

What have they got to do with it?

If I can find the Ford boys...

I've got a very good idea that FrankJames will not be far behind.

Then go on, by all means. Thank you.

[Door Opens, Closes]

There were two of them, weren't there? Yes, Mr. McCoy.

Yes. One of them was Frank, but who was the other?

Frank's got a lot of friends.

Where's Jesse buried? Just outside of town.

You can laugh if you want to, but I'm going out and have a look at that grave.

I don't trust anything about thoseJames boys.

Well, if it ain't Mr. Woodson.

How are ya? Fine, sonny.

Where are you and your father been keeping yourselves?

Well, Pa got him a ranch down in old Mexico, just below the border.

Like it down there? Oh, fine cattle country.

But you sure gotta be handy with a gun. Shootin' scrapes all the time.

Guess who I seen killed in a fight just before I left.

Who? FrankJames.

Has he been down there?

[Clem] Yes, sir, and he's gonna stay down there, six feet under the ground.

They must have pumped 15 slugs into him.

Well, he had it comin' to him, I reckon. Let's go and have a drink.

I need one. I'm spittin' sand hills. Wait till I get my saddlebags.

So, they finally got Frank.

Appears that way.


I done all right, huh?

Fine. I once seen Booth, and he couldn't acted it better.

Thanks. You think the news will get around?

Hope so. Once the Fords find out I'm dead... maybe they'll come out of their hole, wherever they are.

Well, the Fords aren't the only ones- - Shh.

The Fords aren't the only ones you gotta play dead for.

McCoy's got a reward out. I know. I got a letter from the major.

McCoy's got an idea I had something to do with that express job.

Suspicious cuss, ain't he?

Major write you they found out about the farm? No.

Well, they have. McCoy's got a flock of men... watching every road and cow path around there.

I think it's all right though. Pinky won't talk.

No, Pinky won't talk, but it's just as well I'm dead.

What'll it be? Beer.

And what for you? Make his sarsaparilla.


Now what'd you do that for? I've tasted beer.

Mr. Woodson, sir. Lady wants to see you.

A lady? Yes, sir. She's waiting in the parlor.

Give me half a dollar to fetch ya.

All right. This way, sir.

Mr. Woodson? Yes, ma'am?

I'm sorry to bother you, but I'm looking for the man... who saw FrankJames killed in Mexico.

And they told me he was talking to you on the porch.

It was me that seen the killing, ma'am.

Oh, then it's you I wanna talk to. Just a minute, miss.

Who are you, if you don't mind?

My name's Eleanor Stone. I'm a newspaper writer.

I was passing the hotel, and somebody told me that-

A writer? You mean you write pieces for the paper?

Yes, a reporter for the Denver Star.

A lady reporter?

Mind if I sit down? It'll be easier for me to take notes.

Sure do beat all, a lady newspaperman.

Well, I'm not really and truly a reporter, not yet.

But I'm going to be. My father's the owner of the Star.

Maybe you've heard of him Randolph Stone.

Well, can't say I have.

But if he owns the paper, I should think he'd be doing well enough... so his daughter don't have to work.

Oh, I don't have to work. And, if you must know... my father's very much opposed to it.

He thinks I should finish college... and then sit around with my hands folded... waiting for someone to get around to marrying me.

I'll do nothing of the sort.

Women are awakening.

They wanna do things. They- - Not where I come from.

Women figure they're doing plenty feeding a dozen farmhands and raisin' kids.

We can't all feed farmhands and have babies.

Everybody to their taste. I wanna be a newspaperwoman.

Now tell me about Frank James.

If I can get a good story, maybe my father will be convinced I can be a reporter.

Won't you help me?

Sure, we'll help.

Go ahead. Tell her everything, son.

[Clears Throat] Well, it all happened about six weeks ago.

We'd been down in Hernandez herdin' longhorns.

And that night we went into town to do a little drinkin'.

A boy like you? Ma'am, I ain't no boy.

Down in Mexico, I do a man's work and a man's drinkin'.

When we got to WhiskeyJoe's, there was a drunken crowd there from another ranch... a roughin' things up.

FrankJames- Oh, I've seen him a couple times before- he was up at the bar, drinkin' quiet and mindin' his own business.

You taking this down in that newfangled shorthand?

Oh, no, just making notes as I would in classes. Go ahead.

So, this crowd from the other ranch was a whoopin' it up... especially the foreman, a fella they call Red-

Oh, like this when a girl comes in the place.

Oh, a little girl, maybe 10 or 12, lookin' for her pa.

Red makes a grab for her, and she starts cryin' and a-screamin'.

And that plumb annoys Frank.

He comes over from the bar... and he pulls the girl away from Red and knocks him a-kickin'.

Right away I knows there's gonna be trouble in bushel lots.

Everybody exceptin'Red's gang runs out of the place.

It bein' none of my ruckus, I ducks behind the bar.

But Frank don't scare any.

He pulls his gun and stands with his back up against the bar.

It's one against 12 or 15. Red and his crew start blazin' away.

And Frank's blazin' right back. He knocks off two guys... and then gets hit himself in the left arm.

Well, to make it short, he finishes off Red.

Good. Good!

Better be takin' all this down, miss.

- It's all right. I'll remember. Uh, where was I?

Oh, yeah. He finishes off Red and five or six of his gang.

By this time, Frank himself is leakin' like a sieve.

He's down on the ground, dyin', but still fightin'... when a slug gets him in the heart.

Then the fellas that are left empty their guns into him.

Oh, the cowards! This belonged to Frank.

See, it's marked F.J.

I picked it up figuring I could give it to his kinfolks if I ever run into them.

Oh, what a wonderful story for the paper.

Oh, yes, wonderful story.

Thank you. Thank you ever so much. Oh, I must have your name.

Uh, Grayson. Tom Grayson.

Did you say this happened six weeks ago?

Then he couldn't have been mixed up in that Missouri express robbery... that I've been reading about, where a man was killed.

Oh, no, Frank had been in Mexico over a year.

FrankJames never killed nobody.

Of course, I ain't countin' that Mexico business.

He and his brother must have been wonderfully colorful characters.

I wish I could have known him. Well, I must hurry along to the paper.

Good-bye, and thank you so much.

I, uh Sometimes I... might have news.

Could I see you? I'd be glad to see you anytime.

You'll always be able to reach me at the Star... now.

Well, it's very good. But I still think a newspaper is no place for a woman.

Now, now, dear, please don't be so severe. Edna, don't interfere.

But, Papa, you've got to admit... this is the biggest scoop you've had in six months.

Been telegraphed all over the country, and I got it for you.

No, my dear, you just stumbled on it. That can happen to anybody.

But I do go on the payroll, don't I? Thank you.

I don't know. I don't know. I've got to think that over.

No, thank you.


Take the horses out by the side entrance and don't leave 'em.

We may need them in a hurry. You goin' in?

Looks like a show I oughta see.

You gonna shoot 'em right on the stage?

No. First I'm just gonna scare 'em to death.




Well, it's time I was a-leavin'.

Where is that dratted valise of mine?

Here it is, Father.

All packed.

And I didn't forget your rheumatism medicine neither.

I hate to go leaving you alone, Nellie, but I got to.

UncleJoe's a-dyin'.

Don't worry, Pappy. I'll be safe.

Nobody suspects the farm money's in this box.

And anyhow, I know how to use this.


May God keep you safe, my daughter.


[Audience Laughing]

[Wolf Whistles]


Go away. There's nobody home.

[Knocking Continues]

[Man] Open the door, or we'll break it down.

Go away.


We want the farm money. Take another step and I'll shoot.

Oh, no, you won't. You know who we are? No, and I don't care.

I'm JesseJames. This is my brother, Frank.

- Now, do we get the money? Over my dead body.

If that's the way you want it.

Help! Help!

Help! Help!

Help! Help!

[Whistling, Cheering]

[Audience Yells, Screams]


Why didn't you do what I told you to?

I wanted to see you give it to 'em. Where'd you put the horses?

Over there on the corner.

[Bell Clanging]

[Man] The theater's on fire!

Come on! Come on! Come on!

Come on! Giddap! Giddap there!

Come on!


Come on!






[Hoofbeats Departing]


[Gunshot, Ricochet]


[Gun Clicks]


That's one of'em, Jesse.

- [Footsteps Approaching] [Knocking]

- I beg your pardon, but you're Miss Stone? Yes.

My name is Runyan. I'm from the St. Louis Midland.

Oh, railroad police. Won't you sit down?

Thank you. I'm, uh, sorry to disturb you... but, uh, it's just a formality.

Uh, I'm checking up on the death of FrankJames.

Uh, you wrote the story about it, didn't you?

Yes, I did. Now I'm writing a story of his life.

Oh? Should be very interesting. [Chuckles] Very.

Um, that youngster who gave you the account of the killing... tell me about him.

What did he look like? Look like?

Well, he was a boy not more than 16 or so. Light, curly hair.

Turned-up nose. That's about all I can tell you.

Ah, I see.

Um, in your story, there was something about a friend who was with the boy.

What did he look like?

Hmm, he was a man about 29 to 30... six feet tall, maybe more.

Hard to tell. Walks with a sort of stoop.

Has blue eyes and rather high cheekbones.

Speaks with a slow drawl, but doesn't say much.

Yes. What did you say his name was?

Woodson. Ben Woodson.

Woodson. He here now?

No. They told me over at the hotel that he'd suddenly been called away on business.

But I'm sure he'll be back soon.

[Chuckles] At any rate, you hope so.

Yes, I do. He's most likable.


I guess women could find a certain something about Frank.

Frank? Your friend Woodson...

- is Frank James. What did you say?

I said your likable friend is FrankJames, outlaw and murderer.

You-You can't mean it.

Isn't this your friend Woodson?

But I don't understand. Why should-

It's all very simple, my dear.

You see, Frank had two very good reasons for wanting to be dead:

The express robbery in Missouri and his friends, the Fords.

I don't believe it.

He wouldn't do that.

He was so nice and helpful.

You sure there's no mistake? Oh, quite.

You see, right after reading your story, I went down to the border.

[Chuckles] Nobody there had ever heard of the gunfight that boy told you about.

I'm sorry, my dear. You were the victim of a very cruel hoax.

You and your paper.

However, all hardened criminals are cruel and vicious.

Uh, you said he was coming back?

That's what they told me at the hotel... but now that the news is out- - But the news isn't out.

Only the two of us know about Woodson.

Well, uh, I'll be leaving you now.

But you'll hear from me very soon.

And don't worry, my dear, you will have the last laugh.

[Door Opens, Closes]

- Mose? Yes, miss?

There's something I want you to do for me. Yes'm.

You remember that man you took the message to last week? You mean Mr. Woodson?

Yes. Now here's what I want you to do.

He's away now, but when he comes back to the hotel... tell him not to go inside, not to talk to anybody... or to see anybody until he gets in touch with me.

Understand? Yes'm.

This Mr. Woodson ain't on no account to do nothing until he done seen you.

All right, Mose, but remember, it's important-very, very important- and be sure-

Look! Look at it, Frank.

A hair. A real hair.

See it? Yeah, feel it. Feel it.

Couple more like that, and you'll need a mustache cup, son.

Hands up, gentlemen.

Well, this is a real pleasure, Frank.

I haven't seen you since that little affair at Northfield.

Oh, come now. Don't act that way. Be sociable.

How about a little of that charm you loosed on that lady reporter, huh?

Oh, you're quite a storyteller, aren't you, bub?

Yeah. All right, put on your boots and your coats... and we'll make a little call on the marshal.

Come on.

Guess you're wondering how I caught up with you, huh?

[Chuckling] Very, very simple.

I knew that Mexican story was a fake the minute I read it.

Showed a picture of you to Miss Stone, and there you are.

Yes, you lawbreakers are all just about the same.

Oh, some of you are smarter than others, but sooner or later... you'll all trip yourselves up!

I did good, didn't I?

Yes, son, this time you sure did.

## [Humming]

Ooh! Take a deep breath, missy.

[Inhales, Exhales]

- [Knocking] ## [Humming]

Boyjust left this for you.

Tell my mother I may be late for dinner.

A friend of mine's ill. Going over to see her.



Come in.

[Pounding Continues]

Come in!

[Pounding Continues]


Help! Police! Help! Help!

[Pounding Continues]

- [Pounding Continues] Come out or I'll shoot!

[Muffled Yelling] Try to commit suicide, huh?

Huh? [Muffled]

Yeah, that's how it was. Didn't mean to lie, but there was nothing else I could do.

I'm awfully sorry I- - And you should be.

Taking advantage of a young girl... and hanging up people in closets like raincoats.

But you can't stay here. You've got to get away.

If you don't, they'll be hanging you like they're hanging your friend.

Friend? What friend? Didn't you read about it?

The paper gives his name as Pinky.

Pinky something or other. What?

Here, I cut it out.

Why, they're plumb loco.

Pinky wasn't even in town when it happened.

I sent him back to the farm. They can't hang him.

He's already been found guilty...

- and sentenced. But he's innocent.

He's as innocent as you are.

Some of McCoy's work. His way of getting back at me.

Pinky never so much as even stole a chicken in his whole life.

What are you going to do? I gotta do something.

I I wanna talk to you.

Go ahead. You can talk in front of her.

Well, it's about Bob Ford. I found out where he is. Yeah?

Mining camp called Creede. About four or five days' ride from here.

Some fellas at the livery stable were talking about him.

Get out the horses. I'll be right with you. All right.

So, you're going to let your friend hang after all.

What? Well, there's nothin' I can do about it now.

Once I get Bob Ford out- But you'll be too late.

If you'll look at the clipping, you'll see the hanging's set for next week.

I know, but what can I do?

Tell me, is it more important for you to kill a man... than to save the life of an innocent one?

Nothing's more important to me than gettin' Bob Ford.

I'll send a telegram to the governor. I'll tell him Pinky's innocent.

Promise to give myself up the minute I've taken care of Ford.

But anyone could send a telegram and sign your name.

You've got to go yourself... now.

Frank, you can't do anything else.

Killing is one thing, but letting an innocent man die-

I know, and I agree with you, but it may be my only chance.

I promise you once I get Bob Ford, I'll give myself up.

Good-bye, Eleanor.

- [Knocking] Come in.

Oh, so it's you.

Close that door and sit down. I've got a few things to say to you, young lady.

All right, Papa. Get it over with.

Uh-huh. I suppose you realize you've made me and the Star... the laughingstock of the country. I'm sorry.

Oh, I suppose you think that takes care of everything.

Other papers have made mistakes. Yes, but none of them... have made the mistake of having a gullible female on their staff and trusting her.

None of them have-

You saw that interview with Runyan in the Globe this morning, didn't you?

Yes, I saw it. - Uh-huh. It's all true, isn't it?

Not altogether. Oh, no?

Didn't Runyan come to see you?

Didn't FrankJames hang him up in the closet?

Ha. I suppose you'll be telling me next that Frank James is really dead.

I could hardly tell you that. I talked to him last night.

You saw him?

That murderer, and you didn't turn him in?

Young lady, you're going back to college tomorrow.

I've had enough of your nonsense.

My daughter mixed up with murderers.

Papa, I've got to go to Liberty, Missouri.

You bet you do. What? What's that?

Did you read a story in your paper about a Negro named Pinky... who's going to be hanged in a few days as an accomplice in the express robbery?

Yes, yes. What about it? Well, he's innocent, and-

What's that got to do with you?

Have you gone out of your mind? How do you know he's innocent?

If you'll stop standing on your head and sit down...

I'll tell you how I know and why I've got to go to Liberty.

Makes good eatin'- wild hen. Don't it? - Mm-hmm.

'Course... it didn't get the fine cookin' Pinky had've given-

- I can't do it, Clem. Can't do what?

Can't go on. What's the matter? You sick?

Yeah, sick inside.

In a few days they'll be hangin' Pinky.

Hangin' him for something he didn't do.

Must have been crazy.

I'm goin' back, Clem.

And let Bob Ford get away? Let Bob Ford get away.

Well, you can't do it, Frank. You can't.

After all our work, are we gonna give up on account of a darky?

We're goin', Clem.

It ain't Pinky makin' you do this. It's that girl in Denver.

You got her on your mind more than you have Bob Ford.

In a few seconds, you're gonna have an awful sore seat, son.

Maybe I am, but what would Jesse think if he knew you were walkin' out on him?

That's enough, Clem.

I guess she's afraid you're gonna get hurt.

[Mocking] "Oh, don't go, Frank. That poor Ford boy"-

I'm goin', Clem, and I'm goin' alone.

[Hoofbeats Departing]

Frank! Frank!


Can I go with you? Suit yourself.

[Horses Whinnying]

[Whinnying Continues]

- What you doin'that for? We're honest men, Clem.

Yeah, but tain't a fair swap. Why, I could get-

Maybe you could, son. Maybe you could, but we got no time for tradin' talk.

[Donkey Braying]

Pick out a couple of good head.

Hey, stranger. How much you figure an outfit like this is worth?

Oh, about $500 or $600.

Here's $600. I'll throw in the horses.

Come on, Clem.

Anything wrong? No, exceptin' that outfit don't belong to me.

[Train Whistle Blowing]

[Telegraph Clicking]

- [Clicking Continues] ## [Whistling]

[Door Opens]

When's the next through train east?

Just missed it. Won't be another till tomorrow.

It's no good. We gotta be in Kansas City tomorrow.

You can make up your mind you ain't gonna be.

[Clicking Continues]

Those trains there-

Them's freights, all except number eight. That's fast mail.

- Due in a few minutes, ain't it? Yeah.

But it don't even [Whistling] whistle goin' through here.

You can flag it, can't you? What, flag number eight?

What for? It don't carry passengers.

Only mail and fast express.

You're gonna flag it tonight, partner.

[Clicking Continues]

Come on. Get your lantern.

[Clicking Stops]

Come on. Get goin'. Get goin'. - Y-Yes, sir.

I guess you know you can be arrested for this.

Federal offense, stoppin' a mail train. Yeah, we know. Go on. Go on.

I'm goin'. I'm goin'. Take it easy.

- [Whistle Blowing] [Muttering]

- [Panting] [Train Approaching]

Engineer's gonna be mighty surprised.

Mail ain't stopped here in the 10 years it's been runnin'.

[Frank] Keep swingin', brother. Keep swingin'.

Y Yes, sir.

[Whistle Continues]

[Bell Ringing]

Hey, what's the trouble? - What's the mat- Holy smoke. It's a holdup.

It ain't a holdup. We just wanna ride with you.

Get goin'. Don't stop till you get to Kansas City, no matter what.

Get in the cab with him, Clem.

[Bell Ringing]

[Steam Hissing]

Hold her open, brother. I'm comin' in with you.

Sorry, miss, but there ain't no reason.

But there is a reason, a good reason.

FrankJames is liable to come in any day now... and when he does, you'll hear the truth from his own lips.

I see. So you want us to hold up the hanging while Frank is out murdering another man.

No. I want you to wait, to keep from murdering a man.

Pinky's not guilty. I know it, and I think you know it too.

What harm would there be in postponing?

What for? To give FrankJames a chance to raise a gang... and raid the jail like he did once before?

That's it! That's what the scheme is, and you're part of it!

You're a fool, McCoy, and a dad-blasted liar! - Now, now, Major.

A liar and a sneaky little coward to boot. You couldn't get at Frank... so you're striking at him through his poor helpless Negro boy.

You and your perjured witnesses and this weak-kneed- - There's nothing to be done here.

Why, for two cents I'd take you out and shoot you down like a dog...

- you dad-blasted Yankee scum! - [Door Slams]

I couldn't stay. In an hour it'll all be over... and I want to be as far away as I can.

I understand, my dear, and I'm sorry. It's all right, Major.

You've been very kind, but I'll never understand your people.

No, you'd have to live among us a long time to do that.

Now don't think too badly of Frank, because he-

He and I and all of us around here-

Well, we've been brought up to right our own wrongs, regardless of everything.

And what about the wrong being done Pinky?

If you ever see Frank James again, tell him I think he's low and contemptible.

Only a selfish brute would let an innocent man die.

Well, good-bye, Major, and-

Good-bye, my dear. Thank you again.

Frank! Did you get him?

No. Oh, the dirty rotten coward!

I knew you'd come. Did you?

Yes. Behind all my doubts, there was always a feeling that-

Put 'em up, Frank... and keep 'em up.

I see you finally got out of that closet all right.

Oh, yes. And now let's see you get out of a rope around your neck. Put 'em on.

Goin' to an awful lot of bother, ain't you?

Oh, no bother. It's a pleasure [Chuckles] a real pleasure.

Uh, where's that young friend of yours?

Hidin' out, but I just can't remember where.

I see. All right, get along.


[Telegraph Clicking]

[Clicking Continues]

[Clicking Continues]

Good morning, Miss Stone.



Oh, I'm sorry, miss, but this table is reserved for reporters.

- But I am a reporter. I represent the Denver Star. Denver Star?

Mr. Runyan. Thank you, sir. Ah, good luck.

This case?

Tain't too late, Frank, if you want to get another lawyer.

I haven't practiced in nigh unto 20 years... not since I took over the Gazette, and I may be a mite rusty.

Ah, rusty or not, you can do as much for me as any other lawyer... and I reckon that ain't hardly anything at all.

Maybe so, maybe so. But we ain't quittin'.

McCoy and that gosh-dinged Yankee prosecutor of his... will be breathin' mighty heavy before I'm through with them.

- [Gavel Rapping] [Bailiff] Order in the court! Order in the court!

[Gavel Rapping] Everybody stand.

Court is now in session. Hear ye-

That ain't the regular judge, is it?

No, that's Ferris. They brought him on from St. Louis.

Just to make sure, eh? - Uh-huh. now in session. Be seated. [Gavel Bangs]

Your Honor, the case on the docket is number 4358.

State of Missouri v. FrankJames.

[Judge Ferris] You may proceed.

Not only did he rob the express office... but we will prove beyond the slightest peradventure of a doubt... that the defendant, FrankJames... in keeping with his long, murderous career-

I object! The defendant's not on trial in this court for a long, murderous career... any more than the prosecuting attorney is charged... with being in the pay of the St. Louis Midland Railway.

I resent the innuendo! Then stick to the charges in the indictment!

I'm not asking you, sir, what- - Gentlemen! Gentlemen!


Now, gentlemen, I propose to have this trial conducted in a quiet and orderly manner.

The prosecutor will confine himself to the matter contained in the true bill.

And you, sir, will refrain from personalities.

Thejury will ignore the exchange between counsel.

We are not concerned with crimes other than those mentioned in the indictment.

And we certainly are not concerned... with the railroad associations of the prosecuting attorney.

I object, Your Honor. There have been no associations.

I am not aware that I have said there were. You may proceed.

The State will prove... not only did the defendant rob the express office... but also that he shot down the watchman, Wilson, in cold blood.

The State calls its first witness, Sheriff Daniels.

[Bailiff] Sheriff Daniels.

You say FrankJames admitted robbing the express office.

Yes, he did, and before witnesses.

I didn't ask you before whom. You just answer my questions.

- That'll be enough of a strain on that giant intellect of yours. [Laughter]

Did FrankJames also admit killing the watchman? No.

He denied it. Yes.

He said Dan was killed by a shot from the outside.

How long you been sheriff? Two years.

Before that, what'd you do?

I object, Your Honor! What possible bearing... can the former occupation of the witness have on this trial?

I see no objection to the question. You may answer it.

I was in charge of... special police. Who for?

[Softly] St. Louis Midland Railway. Louder! And speak to the jury.

- St. Louis Midland Railway. That's all.

Your Honor, I must take exception to this line of questioning.

My learned opponent, in his desperation... is trying to make it appear that the railroad company... and not the state of Missouri is prosecuting this defendant.

The court is under no deception. Oh, of that I'm quite certain.

But that there be no doubt in the minds of the jury...

I am about to produce five witnesses- none of whom is connected even remotely with the Midland- who were present when FrankJames confessed.

Tain't necessary. We admit FrankJames robbed the express office.


That's the case. Yep. Thought the major would talk about duress or something.

- Or at least make the State prove it. Why, certainly.

What are you doing here? I had to come.

Anyhow, there ain't no sense in me hidin' out. Nobody's worryin' about me.

How's it goin' in there? Not so well.

Suppose it'd do Frank any good if I was to tell them the robbery was my idea?

No. No, there's nothing you or I or anybody can do.

We've just got to wait and hope.

Yeah? Well, we wouldn't be doin' no hopin' or waitin' if it wasn't for you.

Why didn't you leave Frank alone? What'd you have to keep after him for?

If you hadn't stuck your nose in it... we'd have got Bob Ford and nobody'd got Frank.

Now, on account of you, they're gonna hang him.

Raise your right hand, place your left hand on the Bible. Do you swear to tell the truth... the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you God?

I do. Sit down.

You're FrankJames? No doubt about that.

Why are you here?

Why? Yeah. You weren't captured.

You weren't brought in on a fugitive warrant. I come in.

In other words, you're here voluntarily, eh?

As far as the State's concerned, you might still be at large.

I object. That is a conclusion!

Objection sustained.

The witness will not be asked to speculate. You may proceed.

You came in voluntarily. Why?

Well, they was aimin' to swing Pinky for somethin' he didn't do- something he didn't even know anything about- so I figured that-

So you figured you'd risk your own neck to save the life of a poor, innocent old darky.

Your Honor, I must protest! I must protest, Your Honor.

The witness isn't being asked to give testimony. He's being led into argument.

The point is well-taken, but when a man is on trial for his life... the court is inclined to give wide latitude to the defense.

Now take it easy, Major. You'll have plenty of opportunity to make arguments.

- You needn't do it through the witness. I stand rebuked, Your Honor.

[Clears Throat] You did rob the express office, didn't you?

Reckon I did. - Mm-hmm. What'd you do with the money?

Used it huntin' the Fords. No other purpose?

No. It was McCoy money gotJesse murdered, so I took McCoy money.

Your Honor! Major, I want to be fair with you.

In fact, I've been leaning over backwards to be fair, but-

It's all right, Your Honor. I'm finished with the witness. McCoy can have him. I-I-

I mean- I mean, uh- I mean McCoy's man. No, no, no, doggone it.

I- I mean the prosecuting attorney. - [Laughter]

- [Gavel Banging] - I'm- I'm sorry, Your Honor, but my tongue got twisted.

You say you didn't kill the watchman, Wilson. I had no reason.

Do you always need a reason for killing? Don't you?

I'm not on trial. Your accomplice could've shot Wilson, couldn't he?

Yeah, could have. Ah.

But he didn't. Shot from the outside got Wilson.

I suggest that you caused the death of the watchman... either directly or by using him as a shield in making your escape.

Can't arrest you for suggestin', but tain't so.

Tell me... just where was the watchman, Wilson, when he was hit?

Well, let me see. I think he-

Never mind what you think. Where was he?

Sorry. I can't talk without thinkin', not bein' a lawyer.

[Spectators Laughing]

Your name is BreckenridgeJackson?

- Colonel BreckenridgeJackson, sir. Well, Colonel Jackson.

- Colonel BreckenridgeJackson, sir. Well, Colonel Jackson.

You say that you've known FrankJames for many years.

Are you doubtin' my word, sir? I merely asked you a question, sir.

I answered for my friend, the major... and you, sir, were in the room at the same time.

Are you deef? My hearing is perfectly good.

Very well. Then I advise you, sir, to pay attention to what's goin' on in this here courtroom.

[Spectators Laughing]

Please answer all questions put to you, directly and without discussion.

As a character witness- - I shall do as you wish, sir.

There is no favor I can refuse the man who led the courageous attack at Ball's Bluff.

All right, all right, but let's get on. Very well, sir.

- What do you want to know, Yankee? [Laughter]

Now, Colonel-

When did you first meet FrankJames?

As a boy of 14 or 15, when he first joined up.

You mean when he joined Quantrill's guerrillas? Guerrillas?

Did I hear you say guerrillas? I believe they're generally known as such.

Only to those who cravenly fled before them.

The finest cavalry in war, sir. The flower of Southern horse.

- Why, at the battle ofThree Oaks- - Come, come, come.

Let's get on with the trial.

Am I to tolerate insults to the South?

Well, I don't feel insulted. The next question.

I did have a number of questions to ask this witness, Your Honor... but rather than refight the entire rebellion-

Rebellion, did you say, sir? If you are, by any chance... referring to the late unpleasantness between the States... that, sir, was a war for the Southern Confederacy.

That isn't what they call it where I come from.

Well, that's what this court calls it, and let the record so show.

You may proceed. State rests.

Yankee. [Laughter]

As to the robbery itself, I need say nothing.

FrankJames admits that with an unknown accomplice, he broke into the express office... cracked open the strongbox and escaped with the contents.

May I assume that even my learned opponent will agree... that breaking into a place and robbing it is a punishable offense.

Go on, talk to the jury. They have to listen to you. [Laughter]

But FrankJames's crime did not end with robbery.

There was murder as well- foul, bloody murder... murder that cries aloud for justice against its perpetrator.

FrankJames killed the watchman, Wilson...

and you, as honest men... will see that he pays for his crime at the end of a rope.

It's all my fault. I wouldn't feel that way about it if I was you.

After all, you only did what you thought was right.

When I talked to Frank in Denver...

I was thinking only of an innocent man condemned to death.

I didn't think that perhaps I was sending Frank to his death.

What business was it of mine? Now listen, Frank's not going to his death.

Ten years, I figure, maybe 15.

If I only hadn't persuaded him.

My dear, I'm afraid you're overcalculatin' your powers of persuasion.

You figure it was your persuasion that made him come in, don't you, huh?

Well, you're mistaken.

He'd have come in and when he did, even if he'd never met you.

You're saying that to make feel better.

No, no, no. I'm not. I'm saying it because it's the truth.

Frank would never have let Pinky die.

You see, I I know him better than you do.

[Clears Throat] Well, it's time to be gettin' back to court.

Come along. You see, I think-

Frank had only one thought: to avenge the cowardly murder of his brotherJesse.

But to get on the track of the Fords he needed money, and he had none.

You boys know how rich you get workin' a rocky Ozark farm. [Laughing]

So, in desperation, and only as a last resort, did Frank turn to robbery.

But let us see. [Clears Throat]

Did he rob a bank containing the thrifty savings of the poor? No.

Did he rob an honest shopkeeper? No.

He took money from the railroad... the railroad that had caused the death of his mother and his brother.

The railroad that stole your lands and drove you from your farms, the railroad-

I object! - Your objection is well-taken.

Now let me remind you, Major, again.

The St. Louis Midland is not on trial in this court.

I'm sorry, Your Honor.

Now just try and forget what I said about the railroad.

And there is no evidence whatsoever that Wilson, the night watchman... was killed by a bullet from a. 44.

There is more than a reasonable doubt about it... since even the autopsy surgeon himself couldn't tell.

Now this is the weapon FrankJames had when he surrendered... and the weapon he has always carried.

I know 'cause I gave it to him myself the day he went to join Quantrill.

You see the initials on it- F.J. - and the date. Here. See here. Here.

This is very irregular, Your Honor. The evidence is in. Let him proceed.

Your Honor.

This weapon of Frank's has a very interesting history. Yes, sir, right from the start.

Its first bullets were fired at those dad blasted Kansas jayhawkers... when they come a-raidin' here.

You remember that, don't you, Ira? [Chuckles]

Next, this weapon was used on the sneakin', thievin' Yankees that burned Hickoryville.

Saved your barn and your horses, eh, Luke?

- What are we trying here, FrankJames or his gun? [Gavel Banging]

This is also the weapon that stampeded the blasted blue-bellies at Three Oaks... and cleared Clay County forever of the pesky invaders.

Now tell them how many innocent men that gun laid low.

There is no innocent blood on this weapon.

I'm proud of every bullet fired from it. This weapon-

[Woman Screams]

[Spectators Laughing]

[Gavel Banging]

I- I'm sorry, Your Honor. I- I didn't know it was loaded.

Perhaps your client didn't either when he fired at the watchman.

And if the jury believe that any witness has willfully sworn falsely... to any material fact, thejury is at liberty to discard... and disregard the testimony of such witness.

And in determining the credibility of any witness... thejury may take into consideration his or her moral character... as disclosed by the evidence developed at the trial.

And if on account ofhis or her moral turpitude or other criminal acts... if any, thejury regard him or her as untrustworthy ofbelief... they are at liberty to disregard and reject the whole of such testimony... although a part ofhis other testimony... may be corroborated by other evidence in the case.

- Fifth- - What's he doing here?

Thejury is instructed that by the statutes of-

What's he doing here? Guess he wants to be in at the kill.

[Judge Ferris] That is the law, gentlemen, and here are the facts.

The defendant admits-yes, freely admits that he robbed the express office.

Not now, son. Not now!

Thus your duty as to that count in the indictment is plain. Uh-

As to the defendant's reasons for robbing the express office... you will attach no weight to them whatever.

As to whether murder was committed in the course of the robbery... that you will determine by the evidence.

But bear this in mind: No matter what has been said in this courtroom... you and you only are the final judges of the guilt or innocence of the defendant.

The jury will now retire to its deliberations.


Maybe not murder, but there's no question of a conviction on the robbery charge.

I wish, though, that Bob Ford hadn't come here.

[No Audible Dialogue]

Your Honor? Yes?

- Do we have to leave the box? Not if you've reached a verdict.

- We have, Your Honor. And what is the verdict?

We find the defendant, FrankJames, not guilty of anything.

We licked them, the dad-blasted Yankees! We licked them!


Let go ofhim, you lunkheads! Keep cool, son. Keep cool.

Please! Please! You're free, Frank, free!

You can do as you please, go where you want.

If you kill him, you'll have to stand trial again.

You mustn't, Frank. You mustn't! I got to.

- Frank, if you ever want to see me again- - [Gunshots]

[Man] Bob Ford! They got him! They got him!

[Clamoring Continues]

I tried to get him for you, Frank, but...

'pears like he got me.

I think I plugged him too, but I ain't sure.

If I was, I wouldn't feel so bad.

- Anybody gettin' a doctor? [Man] He's coming.

Frank? Yeah?

I guess you and Pinky can take care of the farm.

No, we can't, Clem. We got to have you. We need you for the harvestin'.

Ain't a man in the county can do a day's work like you. We gotta have you.

All right, Frank, but... I'm awful tired.

Maybe if- if I rest up a bit-

Buck up, son. You can't go to sleep now. You got a job to do.


Anybody see which way Ford went?

Yeah, he ducked in that livery barn over there.


[Horse Nickers]

[Hinges Squeaking]




[Gunshot, Ricochet]


- Are you comin' out, or am I comin' in? [Gunshot]

[Gunshots Continue]

That's the other one, Jesse.

"In granting a full pardon to FrankJames...

"he has shown himself to be a man...

"who acts in full accord...

"with the wishes of the people.

"Anybody who don't vote for him...

"at the next election... ought to be taken out"- - "And shot down like a dog. "

Yeah. Huh? Yeah, and put it on the front page in 12-point boldface.

I don't suppose you'll ever get out to Denver again.

Oh, can't tell. Mighty pretty country 'round there.

Yeah, it kind of does somethin' to you... to see the sun come up mornings over the mountains.

Yep, there's lots I like about Denver. I'm glad.