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Friday, February 19, 2016

Destry Rides Again (1939)

A corrupt saloon owner (Brian Donlevy) who runs a small western town with an iron fist has the town drunk (Charles Winninger) appointed sheriff as a joke. But the drunkard not only sobers up but sends away for an honest law abiding young man (James Stewart) to be his deputy. The problem is that the new deputy refuses to wear or use a gun! This amiable and engaging western comedy is hard to resist. Although I prefer the darker James Stewart of the Hitchcock and Anthony Mann films to his "aw shucks, m'am" persona, he's rather sweet here. And what did director George Marshall do to get such a lively and vivacious performance from Marlene Dietrich? Use a cattle prod? Dietrich dumps the frozen ennui femme fatale bit and she's a tigress! The movie shifts the lighthearted tone in the film's last 15 minutes when two major characters are killed which seems slightly jarring (what if the Indians had killed Bob Hope in THE PALEFACE?). Still, one would be hard pressed to resist the fun! With Jack Carson, Una Merkel (who has a sensational catfight with Dietrich), Mischa Auer, Irene Hervey and Allen Jenkins.

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