Destry Rides Again (1939)
Movie InfoIn this mix of action and humor, Destry (Stewart) returns to the wide-open town of Bottleneck which his late father once tamed. His challenge is to enforce the law using his belief in nonviolence. Now Kent (Donlevy) and his cronies have run wild, cheating at high-stakes poker, tempting working men away from their families, charging trail herds for passage, and forcing honest people off their land. Dietrich does a classic turn as Frenchie, a saloon girl as ready to brawl as to perform her memorably sexy and comic "See What the Boys in the Backroom Will Have" or the light-hearted "Little Joe," which is also sung by Wash Dimsdale (Winninger), who is an old friend of Destry's father, the town drunk, and now Destry's deputy. As Destry searches for the killer of the previous sheriff, he also braces Frenchie about her ethical failures in a couple of serious scenes that give depth and character to a film that is primarily action and humor. When Jack Carson amasses the good men in town for a final violent showdown against the villains and their henchmen, the plot takes a proto-feminist twist when the Frenchie challenges the good women of Bottleneck to march between both mobs armed with house and farm implements to take matters into their own hands. As the women resolve the town's conflict in a huge saloon brawl, Frenchie takes a bullet meant for Destry from Kent. In one of the final moments of the denouement, a boy and a girl happily reprise "Little Joe" in the bright sunlight, a touching reminder that the lives of Frenchie and Wash were part of the cost of a peaceful town. This film of course predates Stewart's tour in the Army Air Corps as part of a bombing crew during World War II. In this era, he played strong-willed, principled, but largely nonviolent roles. The tough westerners of "Winchester '73" and "The Far Country" remained in the future. The issues of women's roles and the challenge of nonviolence in a violent milieu, both respected contemporary subjects, are usually ignored in regard to this film. Made in the stellar Hollywood year of 1939, its memory has been overshadowed by the other great films of the same year, including John Ford's immortal "Stagecoach." … More
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Critic Reviews for Destry Rides Again
Starring James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich, both in top form, this comedic-erotic Western was one of the most commercially popular films of 1939.
The movie might not be anywhere near as good as its reputation suggests, but as a straight-up cowboy flick with moments of light comic relief, it's a fairly fun picture.
While not a major film, it's one of those odd Hollywood mixtures where everything comes together just right.
See what the boys in the back room & Dietrich & Stewart are having...it's great!
A wonderful comic Western with Stewart and Dietrich at top form. Always a pleasure to watch.
The conceit of the seeming milksop who’s actually tougher than the hooligans was already a cliché when the movie was made, but Destry has a few twists to keep things interesting.
Overrated, but with enough great moments to be a must-see
Shows that the deconstruction of the Western began long before Unforgiven
Audience Reviews for Destry Rides Again
When the sheriff of a corrupt frontier town is murdered and replaced with the town drunk, the man calls on the services of the son of a legendary law man only to find that he is a pacifist. James Stewart is at his very best for this, one of his defining roles. His easy going charm and integrity are a perfect foil for Marlene Dietrich's feisty music hall girl (so brilliantly parodied by Madeline Kahn in Blazing Saddles) and they have fantastic chemistry together; the cat-fight scene is pure comedy gold. Essentially a story about standing by your principles no matter what the provocation, all the characters are impossible to dislike with some great comic relief provided by a quality supporting cast. Consistently funny with a timeless story of a hero who refuses to resort to violence in the face of adversity, this is one of my all time favourites and a true classic from the golden age.More
This is a fun movie! Frenchy (a strange character name) played by Marlene Dietrich is the inspiration for Madeline Kahn's Lili Von Shtupp. Destry is another great creation by Jimmy Stewart. There are plenty of slapstick bits from the barroom brawls and the supporting characters and heaps of wisecracks from Destry, who would rather reason his way out of a fight than shoot his way out.More
Until recently, I assumed this was just the usual old-fashioned Western. Didn't realize it was funnier than the norm nor, more importantly, just how much "Blazing Saddles" owes to this story (the new sheriff who thwarts the enemy in non-violent ways, the vampy German saloon singer, the drunken sidekick with past glories...). That said, "Destry" wasn't quite as much of a comedy as I hoped, though the recurrent "I knew a guy" gag is wonderfully droll. And Marlene Dietrich is lots of fun to watch -- she's obviously having a ball with her role.More
Destry Rides Again Quotes
- Tom Destry:
- Oh, I think I'll stick around. Y'know, I had a friend once used to collect postage stamps. He always said the one good thing about a postage stamp: it always sticks to one thing 'til it gets there, y'know? I'm sorta like that too.
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