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Destry Rides Again (1939)

Approved | | Comedy, Western | 29 December 1939 (USA)
When a tough western town needs taming, the mild-mannered son of a hard-nosed sheriff gets the job.

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(screen play), (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
... Frenchy
... Tom Destry Jr.
... Boris
... Washington Dimsdale
... Kent
... Gyp Watson
... Bugs Watson
... Janice Tyndall
... Lily Belle
... Loupgerou
... Judge Slade
... Jack Tyndall
... Lem Claggett
... Sophie Claggett
... Rockwell (as Edmund Macdonald)
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Storyline

Kent, the unscrupulous boss of Bottleneck has Sheriff Keogh killed when he asks one too many questions about a rigged poker game that gives Kent a stranglehold over the local cattle rangers. The mayor, who is in cahoots with Kent appoints the town drunk, Washington Dimsdale, as the new sheriff assuming that he'll be easy to control. But what the mayor doesn't know is that Dimsdale was a deputy under famous lawman, Tom Destry, and is able to call upon the equally formidable Tom Destry Jr to be his deputy. Featuring a career reviving performance from Marlene Dietrich as bar singer Frenchie, which could well have been the inspiration for Madeline Kahn's "Blazing Saddles" character, Lili Von Schtupp. Written by Mark Thompson <mrt@oasis.icl.co.uk>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

They make the fighting sinful west blaze into action before your eyes! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

29 December 1939 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Cidade Turbulenta  »

Filming Locations:

 »

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,600,000, 31 December 1940
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(Western Electric Mirrophonic Recording)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

Destry is shooting the knobs off of a sign to show his expert marksmanship and his knowledge of how to handle pistols. Before he shoots the last knob off the sign the Colt pistol he is using goes off prematurely and shoots into the air. Therefore, he could not have shot the last knob off the sign. See more »

Quotes

[Boris has bet and lost his pants in game of poker]
Boris: Frenchy, think of my position. I've met every king in Europe!
Frenchy: Now you've met two aces in Bottleneck. Off with your pants.
See more »

Connections

Featured in Marlene Dietrich: Shadow and Light (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

O Dem Golden Slippers
(uncredited)
Written by James Allen Bland
[Heard in the saloon]
See more »

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User Reviews

 
A comedy with serious political and personal moments...and Dietrich can fight
13 June 2010 | by See all my reviews

Destry Rides Again (1939)

A brilliantly made spoof of the early American Western. This came out at a strange time for this kind of reflective comedy, because in fact the Western was just this year having a revival with three serious Westerns including John Ford's legendary Stagecoach. But the fixtures of this kind of movie were well in place--the barroom brawl, the bad men and their guns, the good sheriff coming to the rescue, the sweet untainted woman and the quasi-whorehouse type woman, and of course the final shootout. It's all here. And it's a wild ride done with subtlety, a difficult combination to pull off.

It's fun to see this movie and then compare to the later generation of take-offs and spoofs that take themselves much more seriously--the spaghetti Westerns of the 1960s. These, too, used all the clichés of the Western to make an amusing reference to those types. The reason why those movies worked so well, and why Destry does, too, is that these are attractive archetypes. We see ourselves in these people, somehow, and yet not too closely. We identify with them (especially Jimmy Stewart the sheriff and Marlene Dietrich the bad woman with a good heart who can sing, too) and yet know they are all artifice, just as in a play. The illusion of reality is damped down by the excess and the fun, and the obvious exaggerations.

As for director George Marshall, he's a hardened Hollywood veteran most famous, perhaps, for a long string of golf movies (yes golf, the sport). But his expertise, and his willingness to go for broke with scenes involving dozens or even hundreds of people, and to use the camera vigorously, and to realize he had two of the greatest actors he could ask for (Stewart toward the beginning of his career, and Dietrich still a great star though cast against her normal romanticized type from the early 1930s) is phenomenal. You'll shake your head and laugh at the same time.

In fact, it is the chemistry of the two stars that gives the movie surprising depth. It's not just a farce. It talks about pacifism just as World War II is brewing. And it suggests something about true love as much as carnal attraction. All while the world is exploding around the two leads, almost literally, as you'll see. And whatever might happen on screen by the end, it's fun to know that the two had a real affair offscreen, with some hush hush scandal to follow years later.

Watch this and laugh and maybe even cry a little. Great stuff.


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