Thursday, Oct 2020
Director: George Marshall
Screenwriters: Felix Jackson & Getrude Purcell from Max Brand's novel
Length: 95 mins.
Theme Song: The Boys in the Back Room ~ Marlene Dietrich
Released: 1939 B & W

destry rides again 1939This Western spoof is set in the lawless frontier town of Bottleneck. The center of the movie is the saloon where Frenchy (Marlene Dietrich) entertains the boys until they fire their guns. Saloon owner Brian Donlevy installs town officials that serve his dastardly purposes. One of which is swindling naive farmers out of their land in poker games. Donlevy dispatches a sheriff that objects to his practices and hires the town drunk to replace him. To Donlevy's surprise, the new sheriff sobers up and calls on the son of a former Bottleneck lawman legend, Destry, to return to town and restore law and order. Destry's son, Tom Destry (James Steward) is a reluctant fighter much like Shane or even Steward himself in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. He is an ordinary milk drinking, napkin holder carving citizen who wishes to abide by the law. Extraordinary circumstances drive men like Tom Destry to buckle on the gun belt and settle things in the way of the old west. This is a theme that is repeated in dozens of Westerns made after this film.

Marlene Dietrich seems slightly out of place in this film. Perhaps it is her "vee have vays to make you talk" accent that makes her characters claim of being a displaced New Orleans Madam ring false. Also, director George Marshall includes three musical numbers sung by Dietrich. This is three too many as she hits a few clunkers in each number.

A couple of other scenes are worth noting. There is a raucous cat fight between Marlene Dietrich and a "good woman" from the town. Both women end up doused in what is essentially a wet tee shirt contest. The scene is quite bawdy for 1939. Also, the idea that jury deliberation is no more than polishing off a couple bottles of whiskey is introduced. A concept repeated in many later Westerns (The Westerner (1940)).

--Crabbie

Cast:

  • Marlene Dietrich....Frenchy
  • James Stewart.... Tom Destry, Jr.
  • Mischa Auer....Boris
  • Charles Winninger....Washington Dimsdale
  • Brian Donlevy....Kent
  • Allen Jenkins....Gyp Watson
  • Warren Hymer....Bugs Watson
  • Irene Hervey....Janice Tyndall
  • Una Merkel....Lily Belle
  • Billy Gilbert ....Loupgerou
  • Samuel S. Hinds....Judge Slade
  • Jack Carson....Jack Tyndall
  • Tom Fadden.... Lem Claggett
  • Virginia Brissac.... Sophie Claggett
  • Edmund MacDonald....Rockwell
Back To Top