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Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Recently viewed: "Destry Rides Again"

Destry Rides Again

Destry Rides Again

1939 is sometimes thought of as the greatest movie year (Gone With The Wind, Wizard of Oz, Stagecoach, etc).  It also saw Destry Rides Again, a semi comic western, based upon a Max Brand novel.  We get 31 year old Jimmy Stewart (still early in his career) and 38 year old Marlene Dietrich (already looking somewhat hard to my eyes, and coming off a series of box office bombs).

Stewart is "Thomas Jefferson Destry", the son of a famous lawman, who has decided to forgo guns (they didn't prevent his father from being shot in the back).  He's asked to come to the lawless town of Bottleneck by the sheriff (and former town drunk, appointed by the corrupt mayor) to be a deputy.  Upon his arrival, he becomes somewhat of a laughing stock, but quickly understands the situation and begins to take charge. He has to match wits with the villain (Brian Donlevy, intent on controlling the valley and charging ranchers a toll when they drive their cattle to market).  Dietrich is "Frenchy", the saloon girl and mistress to Donlevy, helping in his crooked poker games.

There's humor (a big fight between Dietrich and Una Merkel, wife to Russain Mischa Auer, who provides much of the comic relief) and we get Dietrich singing "See What The Boys in The Backroom'll Have".  There's some romance between Stewart and Dietrich, though she doesn't get him in the end.

A fun western, and a worthy entry in the list of great movies in 1939.

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