Phillip Duggan (sparhawk2k) wrote in celluloidraving,
Phillip Duggan

Destry Rides Again (1939) ... 8.5/10


Of all the kinds of movies out there, I'd have to say my least favorite is the Western. With two or three exceptions. Mel Brooks is a genius if there's ever been one and Blazing Sadles stands as one of his best� The Unforgiven gets on the list because I don't have the heart to dislike an Audrey Hepburn movie. And now there's Destry Rides Again.

Thanks to Jimmy Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, a great supporting cast, and most important of all, some wonderful comedy, I ended up enjoying this movie more than most westerns I've ever seen. It's the story of a rowdy corrupt town (of course) which suddenly becomes in need of a new sheriff. They pick the town drunk (of course) who used to be the deputy for the old sheriff. In an attempt to prove them wrong and actually do a good job he recruits the son of his old boss to help him as the deputy. While everything all seems like a normal old western (If maybe a bit brighter and happier with a bit more wackiness thrown in) so far this is where things really get interesting. Our star deputy (played by "Aw shucks" Jimmy Stewart) isn't quite what people are expecting. He's not the gun slinging cowboy-type everybody's looking for or thinking they'll find because of his father. In fact, he doesn't carry a gun and doesn't particularly care for them. And since his hands are free and don't have to be playing with his guns he spends his time carving napkin rings.

These are the sorts of twists that really open up this film for greater things. Yes, it's a silly little comedy. But it actually has some interesting messages mixed in. Just because he doesn't like guns doesn't mean he backs down and lets chaos run wild. He still plans on bringing law and order despite everything he sees when he gets into town. And his attempts are all quite fun and at the same time rather remarkable. It's nice too see things done in different ways. The film still has plenty of shooting but only one big western-like shoot-out and even that doesn't last too long. But then, it's not the point of the film either.

Despite all the attempts and everything it had going for it I still couldn't quite get into this setting as well as I might get into something else. I just don't connect well with westerns. The fact that I enjoyed it as much as I did is a testament to just what a good job they did but I still like many of Stewart's other movies better. For that matter, I wish this idea had been in another setting. Cop movies are almost as bad so that wouldn't work but I'm sure there's something else you could do�

When it comes down to it this is a rather hard film to recommend. I think a lot of people would enjoy it but if you like westerns you might be put off by how much they've changed. And if you don't you might not think they've changed enough. This film seems to sit in a realm of its own. Not quite as far out of the genre as Blazing Saddles made it but still not quite fitting with everything I assume people look for in a western. It's fun to watch and quite funny. But it really just needs its own genre and I'd be much happier. Well, and less dirt and less saloons. That'd be nice too.

"Oh, I think I'll stick around. Y'know, I had a friend once used to collect postage stamps. He always said the one good thing about a postage stamp: it always sticks to one thing 'til it gets there, y'know? I'm sorta like that too."
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