May 5, 2020  (Web Review)

Destry Rides Again

Criterion, 94 min., not rated, DVD: $29.95, Blu-ray: $39.95, Apr. 14

Reviewer rating: 3.0/4

Although Max Brand’s popular 1930 novel was filmed numerous times, director George Marshall’s 1939 version comes the closest to capturing the true spirit of the yarn, even if it’s not the most literal rendition. James Stewart stars as Tom Destry, a milk-drinking deputy out to clean up the town of Bottleneck, which is run by crooked gambler Kent (Brian Donlevy). In a role similar to the one she played in The Blue Angel, Marlene Dietrich costars as Frenchy, a saloon singer working for Kent, but harboring a yen for Destry. Although the ending in which someone takes a bullet meant for someone else adds a somber note, this is overall a wonderful parody of the Western genre—with musical numbers, no less. Making its debut on Blu-ray in a 4K transfer, extras include interviews with critic Imogen Sara Smith and Stewart biographer Donald Dewey, illustrated audio excerpts from a 1973 oral history interview with director Marshall, a 1945 radio adaptation featuring Stewart and Joan Blondell, and a booklet with an essay by critic Farran Smith Nehme. Recommended. (R. Pitman)