Senior HTF Member
- Jul 3, 1997
- Real Name
- Ronald Epstein
Destry Rides Again
Film Length: 95 minutes
Aspect Ratio: Full Frame (1.33:1)
Subtitles: English, French & Spanish
It seems for the past few weeks I have been stuck
in Western mode. From reviewing so many western
films like Little Big Man, Nevada Smith, Dances
With Wolves, The Unforgiven and Young Guns,
I feel as if I'm starting to empty sand out of my
cowboy boots every night before I go to bed.
Not that I'm complaining, mind you -- I really have
grown much fonder of this genre that I have always
associated as films only my father would have enjoyed.
Making this experience even more special is the
release of 11 new DVDs that are part of the
Universal Western Collection. Here is an
opportunity to watch some of Hollywood's greatest
stars like Ronald Reagan, Clint Eastwood, Maureen
O'Hara and Audie Murphy tame the wild, wild west.
A good friend of mine heard I received the Universal
collection and immediately recommended I watch
Winchester '73 followed by Destry Rides
Again. I was told only that each film starred
James Stewart, but in very different sort of roles.
While I felt the 1950 Winchester '73 was a
fairly good average western, I was really amazed
that Destry Rides Again, a film made 11
years earlier, was far more enjoyable. Perhaps
what attracted me to this film more than others is
the fact that director George Marshall takes an
already known story and combines it with comedy
to give us a very amusing western send-up.
Welcome to the rowdy frontier town of Bottleneck.
It actually could be the one of the coolest towns
to live in outside of Dodge City if not for the fact
that it has become corruptly run by a crooked saloon
owner named Kent (Brian Donlevy) and his sultry
girlfriend Frenchy (Marlene Dietrich), who when not
cheating honest folks, can be found belting out a
song for the saloon's drunk patrons.
When Sheriff Keogh asks one too many questions
about a rigged poker game that gives Kent a
stranglehold over the local cattle rangers, Kent
has the Sheriff shot. In his absence, the town
drunk, Washington Dimsdale (Charles Winninger), is
appointed as the new Mayor, in hopes that it will
cause no serious disruption to Kent's power.
Problem is, Dimsdale takes the job seriously and
immediately sets out to brings in a legendary lawman
named Thomas Jefferson Destry (James Stewart). Much
to Dimsdale's dismay, the lawman arrives as an
unimposing, genteel man who doesn't carry a gun.
Of course seeing this, the townsfolk immediately
laugh him off. Destry soon proves to them, however,
that you don't need a gun to make a point as he
begins enforcing his eccentric law and order
The most enjoyable aspect of Destry Rides Again
is watching its stars, Jimmy Stewart and Marlene
Dietrich expertly play off each other. You can't
help but laugh at the tall boy scout going up against
the tough-as-nails saloon singer and watch chairs
fly in one of the biggest undignified cat fight
brawls ever to be filmed.
It was interesting to learn that this particular
story was first touched upon in a 1932 film with
the legendary Tom Mix in the role of Tom Destry.
Director George Marshall was responsible for
recommending the role of Frenchy to Marlene Dietrich
after Paulette Goddard became unavailable for the
role. Though Dietrich had returned to Germany to
try to rebuild her career, she accepted and returned
to America for the part.
How is the transfer?
It seems that age never quite dictates how good
or bad a particular transfer will look. I had
just finished reviewing Winchester '73,
a film made in 1950. In that review I commented
that the print was full of blemishes and scratches
as well as a noticeable amount of grain.
Go back 11 years to Destry Rides Again, and
here is a transfer that looks somewhat better than
that 1950 film. Filmed in B&W and presented in
its original full frame ratio, here is a print that
looks to be in almost pristine condition. Images
are nicely detailed with excellent contrast levels
and blacks that are remarkably deep. Age blemishes
are apparent here alright, but they are not as
prominant. Though this is not nearly the best
B&W transfer I have seen, I was quite taken back
by how good this transfer still looks for a film
that is now 64 years old.
The film's original mono soundtrack sounds a
bit high and harsh, which was something I more
or less expected here. Fortunately, background
hiss is kept to a minimum.
There are none. I am sort of surprised that
there was not the smallest amount of promotional
material available for this film.
I'm having quite a good time sifting through some
of these lesser-known titles that are part of the
Universal Western Collection. These are
gems that are waiting to be discovered by people
like you and I who never thought they would enjoy
If you feel courageous, I urge you to start your
road of discovery with Destry Rides Again,
certainly amongst my favorite westerns I have seen
thus far. At an on-line price of only $11 each,
this is a title worth checking out.
The more of these little gems I watch, the more
I want to see. Expect another Universal western
review next week! Think I'll go for Bend of
the River next.
Release Date: May 6, 2003
All screen captures have been further compressed.
They are for illustrative purposes only and do not
represent actual picture quality