Sunday, February 01, 2015

Destry Rides Again (1939)

     Destry Rides Again (1939) [ D: George Marshall. James Stewart, Marlene Dietrich] The town of Bottle Neck is ruled by gangsters. Frenchy (Marlene Dietrich) is in league with them, and assist in defrauding a rancher of his property in a crooked card game. The sheriff who goes to investigate is killed, replaced by a drunk, who calls in Destry (James Stewart), the son of his old friend. But Destry doesn’t like guns. That’s the setup.
     So how will Destry tame the town? He does it by showing he’s a crack shot, but mostly by insisting he will enforce the law, and doing so even when he knows that the law favour the crooks. That insistence on law enables him to arrest the murderer of the previous sheriff, but when it gets out that he’s called in a federal judge to try the case, there is the inevitable gunfight. Frenchy, who is after all an immoral woman, dies protecting Destry.
     A nicely done movie which no longer seems mold-breaking. Hailed as a classic, it offered Stewart his first starring role, Dietrich’s come-back role.A mix of silliness and cliches masquerading as humour, well done photography, and an intelligent script add up to a pleasant hour and a half. It’s supposed to be a comic Western, and it does offer some laughs. But I have no desire to watch it again. **1/2

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