A little less than three years ago I posted a roster of HE’s top 20 Henry Fonda films. There was some pushback over my placing Sergio Leone‘s Once Upon A Time In The West, in which Fonda played a blackhearted villain named Frank, in 15th place.

I put it there because it wasn’t a “Henry Fonda” performance, but an aberration in the vein of Fort Apache. And yet even Fonda’s Fort Apache performance as Lieutenant Colonel Owen Thursday, a stiff-necked, emotionally constipated fanatic, represented an aspect of his own nature. (Peter Fonda once said this in an interview.) Frank was a bizarre showhorse role — completely divorced from Fonda the man and Fonda the legend.

In 19 of the 20 performances listed below Fonda was basically playing himself, which is how we’ve always preferred him.

1. 12 Angry Men
2 The Ox-Bow Incident
3. The Grapes of Wrath
4. The Lady Eve
5. The Best Man
6. The Wrong Man
7. Young Mr, Lincoln
8. Drums Along The Mohawk
9. My Darling Clementine
10. You Only Live Once
11. Fort Apache
12. On Golden Pond
13. The Boston Strangler
14. The Fugitive
15. Once Upon a Time in the West
16. Advise and Consent
17. Slim
18. Jezebel
19. The Tin Star
20. Jesse James

Arguably the worst stinkers of Fonda’s career were Mr. Roberts, Fail Safe (a technically good film that I’ve only rewatched once — that means something) and Sex and the Single Girl.