Wednesday, April 18, 2012

DESTRY RIDES AGAIN....and again!

One of my favorite westerns is DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (1939). One of my favorite comedies is DESTRY RIDES AGAIN. And my favorite actor, then and now, is James Stewart. Add a down to earth Marlene Dietrich in her best role and you have a true classic from the best year in film history....1939. More on that later. DESTRY RIDES AGAIN takes place in the fictional town of Bottleneck, a wild and lawless frontier town run by crooks Kent (Brian Donlevy) and Frenchy (Marlene Dietrich with her inescapable German accent). Called into to help the new sherrif, Destry (James Stewart) arrives with wit and charm and no guns. He is at first a laughing stock, but his good sense and calm prevail.

What makes this film really work is the growing relationship between Frenchy and Destry. It begins in one of the great fight scenes. Frenchy has won a patron's pants in a poker game and the loser's wife begins a free-for-all that practically destroys the saloon. Destry finally douses Frenchy and the wife with slop, and a new fight begins between French and Destry. All of this is choreographed with such dexerity and wit that it looks totally natural. Never has Dietrich been less glamourous than in her attack on Stewart. And never has she been more appealing as she falls in love with Stewart. Stripped of those exotic sirens of the 1930's (SHANGHAI EXPRESS, THE DEVIL IS A WOMAN), Dietrich exudes charm, especially in her intimate scenes with Stewart. As for Stewart, he brings his seemingly naive but smart appeal that would be his calling card for decades to come.

As for that unforgettable year of 1939, THE WIZARD OF OZ, DARK VICTORY(Bette Davis, WUTHERING HEIGHTS, STAGECOACH (John Wayne), GOODBYE MR. CHIPS, MR. SMITH GOES TO WASHINGTON (Stewart), NINOTCHKA (Garbo), GUNGA DIN, and the ultimate winner GONE WITH THE WIND. DESTRY RIDES AGAIN deserves its place in the pantheon. Rent it and enjoy!

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