""Destry Rides Again" is a five star, ten gallon hat of an adventure that casts gangly James Stewart as the unassuming Marshall of a lawless town. At first, Tom Destry's unassuming good nature pegs him as a push over amongst the criminal element in the neighborhood, as well as by the spurious ladies of the evening, fronted by the erotic intercontinental harlot, Frenchy (Marlene Dietrich). However, very soon Destry begins to reassert his power as the law of the land - a pivotal epiphany that leads to violence and death. There's also some great comedy to be had - particularly in a scene in which Destry decides to cool Frenchy off - literally, by soaking her with some ice water. Dietrich's rendition of "See What The Boys In The Backroom'll Have" proves why she was the toast of Berlin cabarets for many years before coming to Hollywood. The forgotten Mischa Auer co-stars as Boris - a simple-minded philanderer in a comedic subplot, who gets his comeuppance in the end. Jack Carson, Una Merkel and Charles Winninger also give credible performances.
THE TRANSFER: The genuine disappointment is that Universal doesn't quite understand they have a winner in this film. The transfer is so terribly marred by fading, age related artifacts and a poorly balanced print that there is very little to recommend this film on DVD. Contrast levels appear under exposed during night scenes and slightly over exposed elsewhere. There's a glaring and distracting amount of film grain present throughout the transfer that really distracts from the visual style and performances. Fine detail is lost in most scenes. Rarely does the quality of this disc surpass mediocrity. The audio is mono and fairly presented, though the critical ear will note distortions present.
EXTRAS: As usual for Universal classics - NONE!
BOTTOM LINE: This film should be seen because it is a gem among westerns - just not in its current condition!"
Odd combination that sparks!
Fernando Silva | Santiago de Chile. | 08/21/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Before I watched this highly-amusing comedy, with "dramatic" touches, it had always seemed so strange (to me), the coupling of reliable & naive Jimmy Stewart with the exotic, alluring and sophisticated Marlene Dietrich...and above all, in a western!!
It's true that she (Dietrich) had starred previously with equally naive and all-american Gary Cooper in both in "Morocco" and "Desire", but the former was a Pre-Code set in Von Sternberg's "exotic" vision of the world (the desert in this case) and the latter wasn't "outside" Diretrich "bounds" either (as a myth), because it was a sophisticated continental romance, produced by Lubistch.
But boy!, in this film Marlene is so different from her previous roles an highly convincing as a notorious saloon singer, "Frenchy" (she's from New Orleans, Louisiana), who's the mistress of the town's villain (Brian Donlevy, great).
After Bottleneck's sheriff (the name of the town) is killed, in rather "obscure" circumstances, Donlevy arranges that the town's drunk (engagingly played by Charles Winninger) is given the job, `cos it's for sure that he wouldn't cause any trouble at all...
But, he's wrong, as everybody else, because Winninger calls for Tom Destry to become his deputy-sheriff, whose heroic father he knew when he was young, ....but, wait a minute!!... this mild-mannered guy (Stewart) cannot be "notorious" Destry's son...but not all is said, `cos this peculiar guy is a no-nonsense man!
Great support too from Mischa Auer, as Winininger's hilarious Russian brother-in-law, so desperately trying to be addressed by his own last name (Androvsky? or sth. like that), and not as "Callahan", his wife's (Una Merkel) very respectable, late first husband.
Mention apart deserves one of the best women-fight I ever saw onscreen, between Merkel and Dietrich.
The only thing that displeased me was one "aspect" of the ending, which I'm sure must have been imposed by the strict Production Code regulations (you'll know what I'm talking about after watching the movie yourselves), but in all, it's a great film!
The DVD copy is OK, considering the film's from 1939. "
EXCELLENT PRISTINE PRINT
William J. Landis | ALBUQUERQUE,NM | 04/20/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I think that just about every film made in 1939 was great and "Destry Rides again" is certainly no exception to that claim..1939 was truly the Golden Age of Hollywood.I won't bother to review the plot as it is well covered in the many other reviews. I hesitated to buy the DVD as there were a few reviews claiming that the transfer was not up to par,overexposed,scratches etc. but I always loved this film and was willing to chance it and was glad that I did purchase it as the transfer to DVD was excellent,clear as any film made today if not clearer..I can only surmise that the reviews that claim that it was a poor transfer were referring to the VHS version and not the DVD.It certainly held up well for all it's 69 years and to see and hear Marlene Dietrich sing " See what the boys in the backroom will have" was worth the price of the DVD.
William J. Landis"
Funny or not so funny?
Joseph Hart | Visalia, CA United States | 02/06/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The box my DVD came in really played up the humor in this flick, going so far as to call it "hilarious." That's dumb. It had humor in it, it also had a good old fashioned plot. And Jimmy Stewart and Marlene Dietrich. And great songs (Loesser only wrote the words for this one, and with only one false rhyme - cousins/dozens/husbands), all put across by an amazingly flexible (lots of different feelings, not just the usual stoneface and deadpan delivery I've come to expect of her) Dietrich. I loved it. I won't give away the ending in case there's someone left who doesn't know it, but I wonder whether the musical (Rome, Griffith, Gray) ended the same, of course I never saw the Bway show, and it irks me not to know. This movie actually made me dislike the Rome score that I have loved and enjoyed for years, and it also made me wonder how good Andy Griffith was in Jimmy Stewart's role. I can't imagine it. That part was made for Stewart. All the parts were well-cast and well done I thought. It's a great flick and I loved it. Not so funny though. A very serious plot with people getting killed. No carnage, blood and guts like you would expect today, but dead is dead. Still it was lightly done."
Classic western and classic Stewart
D. COLLIER | Brownwood, TX United States | 05/14/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is one of my favorite westerns and definitely one of my favorite Jimmy Stewart movies. In this film, Deputy Tom Destry rides into the rough town of Bottleneck to clean the place up...without a gun. Although he's an officer of the law, he's also a firm believer in taking care of business without a shooting iron. His father was the legendary Tom Destry, Sr., who was shot in the back in cold blood. Although he had the fastest hand in the West and the sharpest eye, as young Destry says of his dad and guns, "They didn't seem to do him much good."
But don't worry. There's still plenty of shoot-'em-up action in DESTRY RIDES AGAIN as well as the kind of rare, witty dialogue you just couldn't find in most westerns from way back when or today. DESTRY also features one of the defining performances in the career of Marlene Deitrich. For those who love the parody of her in BLAZING SADDLES, most of that was taken from DESTRY.
Although DESTRY RIDES AGAIN is now 66 years old, it has aged quite gracefully, and is still funner than ever to watch. It's a great movie, which very few people will not be pleased to watch over and over again."