Destry Rides Again

Family Friendly Action In Destry Rides Again

Destry Rides Again is a western released in 1939. It was directed by George Miller, who spent over 60 years making Hollywood films. Destry Rides Again is easily one of his most recognizable feature films. It stars Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart in the Wild West. The film was distributed by Universal Studios but was only released in Europe in 1945. The film takes its name from a Max Brand novel, Destry Rides Again, but features little in common with the original story.

The Plot Of Destry Rides Again

The film takes place in the fictional town of Bottleneck. The saloon owner and boss of the town, Kent, arrange to have the town sheriff murdered when the sheriff finds out about the rigged poker game hosted in the bar. With the law gone, Kent basically runs the town with no interference. He is flanked by his girlfriend, Frenchy, who not only works with Kent but also runs the dancehall.

The Town’s mayor is equally crooked and is working with Kent running illegal activity in the town. Hiram J Slade appoints the local town drunk as the new sheriff, expecting him to essentially become a silent partner to their criminal empire. Unfortunately for the mayor, this drunk was a former lawman. He serves as deputy under Tom Destry. Once he is appointed as sheriff of bottleneck, he looks up his old friend but finds his equally formidable son instead. He deputizes Tom Destry Jr on the spot in order to bring the rule of law back to bottle neck.

A New Sheriff In Town

At first the town does not think much of the drunk and kid combo to protect their town, but they soon realize that Destry, despite refusing to carry a gun, is anything but a push over.

The film was critically well received as well as doing well in the box office. Most praise was focused on Marlene Dietrich and John Stewarts performances that were quite different from the characters they were usually cast as. As a Result the film performances were highly praised and further cemented the careers of these two iconic actors. There was quote notable press at the time with regards to the falling out between Marlene Dietrich and her co star Una Merkel. The film also contains two songs performed by Dietrich and written by Frank Loesser and Frederick Hollander. See What The Boys In The Back Room Will Have and You’ve Got That Look.

The Film Legacy

Destry Rides Again was remade in the 50’s and released as Destry in 1954. The film was almost a shot for shot remake, with George Marshall directing again.  The film featured Audie Murphy and Thomas Mitchell in the lead roles. In 1959 a Broadway musical was released, playing at the Imperial Theater for 472 performances. The show featured Andy Griffith as the title character Destry, with Delores Gray featuring as the love interest and femme fatale, Frenchy. The ABC network also made a television series in 1964 called Destry, starring John Gavin. The 1939 film was honored in 1996 when it was inducted into the United States National Film Registry by the Library Of Congress.