Jimmy Stewart: Destry Rides Again (1939)

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It would seem that 1939 was Jimmy Stewart’s year. He starred in 5 films including four that I’ve reviewed here. He was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor for his role in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. This film adds to the greatness of the year for Stewart as he appeared with Marlene Dietrich and Brian Donlevy in Destry Rides Again.

The town of Bottleneck is in the grips of Kent (Donlevy) a cattle baron with an iron fist. He has killed the sheriff and moved further on with his plan to take over the whole territory. Through bribes, threats, and crooked card games he’s taking land from anyone he can. He also appoints Washington Dimsdale as the new sheriff because of his love of booze. Kent assumes this will make him an easy pawn. Kent is unaware that Dimsdale was once the deputy to the late Tom Destry a famed lawman. Now Dimsdale calls upon Tom Destry Jr. (Stewart) to come and aid him in bringing order back to town. The younger Destry arrives and appears to lack the killer instinct his father had possessed but looks to prove he can use peaceful methods to get the job done. Along the way Destry runs into barroom singer Frenchie (Dietrich) who falls for him despite her role in Kent’s plan. The action is great in this old film as Destry Rides Again.

This is a good old western with an interesting cast.  Marlene Dietrich revived her career with this role that called for her to act and sing. She was also able to show a comedic side to her talent which would lend itself to her future opportunities. The role of Kent was incredibly well acted by Brian Donlevy who would also receive an Academy Award nomination in 1939 for Beau Geste. Stewart was also impressive as he played a role that took him into a new genre of films. He would later act in other Westerns including The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance and The Shootist to name a few.

Dietrich in a classic scene from the film.


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