Destry Rides Again

This article is about the 1939 movie remake Destry Rides Again. For the novel, see Destry Rides Again (novel). For the 1932 movie starring Tom Mix, see Destry Rides Again (1932 film). For the 1954 movie remake starring Audie Murphy and Thomas Mitchell, see Destry (film). For the 1959 Broadway musical starring Andy Griffith, see Destry Rides Again (musical).
Destry Rides Again

Theatrical release poster
Directed by George Marshall
Produced by Joe Pasternak
Written by Max Brand (novel Destry Rides Again)
Felix Jackson (screenplay and story)
Henry Myers
Gertrude Purcell
Starring Marlene Dietrich
James Stewart
Mischa Auer
Brian Donlevy
Music by Frank Skinner
Cinematography Hal Mohr
Editing by Milton Carruth
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release date(s) December 29, 1939 (1939-12-29) (U.S. release)
Running time 94 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Destry Rides Again (AKA The Man from Montana) (1939) is a western starring Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart. The supporting cast includes Mischa Auer, Charles Winninger, Brian Donlevy, Allen Jenkins, Irene Hervey, Billy Gilbert, Bill Cody, Jr., and Una Merkel. The original Max Brand novel was translated into an "oater" with the town of Bottleneck set on a Hollywood sound stage. The movie was directed by George Marshall and is a remake of a 1932 version starring Tom Mix.

In 1996, Destry Rides Again was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".



Saloon owner Kent (Brian Donlevy), the unscrupulous boss of the fictional Western town of Bottleneck, has the town's Sheriff, Keogh, killed when the Sheriff asks one too many questions about a rigged poker game. Kent and "Frenchy" (Marlene Dietrich), his girlfriend and the dance hall queen, now have a stranglehold over the local cattle ranchers. The crooked town's mayor, Hiram J. Slade (Samuel S. Hinds), who is in collusion with Kent, appoints the town drunk, Washington Dimsdale (Charles Winninger), as the new sheriff, assuming that he'll be easy to control and manipulate. But what the mayor doesn't know is that Dimsdale was a deputy under the famous lawman, Tom Destry and is able to call upon the equally formidable Tom Destry, Jr. (James Stewart) to help him make Bottleneck a lawful, respectable town.

Destry confounds the townsfolk by refusing to strap on a gun in spite of demonstrating that he is an expert marksman. He still carries out the "letter of the law", as deputy Sheriff, and wins over their respect. A final confrontation between Destry and Kent's gang is inevitable, but "Frenchy" is won over by Destry and changes sides. A final gunfight ensues where Frenchy is killed in the crossfire, and the rule of law wins the day.


As appearing in screen credits (main roles identified):[1]

Actor Role
Marlene Dietrich Frenchy, the saloon singer
James Stewart Thomas Jefferson "Tom" Destry, Jr., the new deputy
Mischa Auer Boris Callahan, the henpecked Russian
"Charlie" Winninger "Wash" (Washington Dimsdale), the new sheriff
Brian Donlevy Kent, the saloon owner
Allen Jenkins "Gyp" Watson
Warren Hymer "Bugs" Watson
Irene Hervey Janice Tyndall
Una Merkel Lily Belle - "Mrs. Callahan"
Billy Gilbert "Loupgerou"
Samuel S. Hinds Judge Slade, the mayor
Jack Carson Jack Tyndall


Marlene Dietrich as Frenchy performs the songs "See What the Boys in the Back Room Will Have" and "You've Got That Look", written by Frank Loesser, set to music by Frederick Hollander, which have become classics.


Famed Western writer Max Brand contributed the novel, Destry Rides Again, but the film also owes its origins to Brand's serial "Twelve Peers", published in a pulp-magazine. In the original work, Harrison (or "Harry") Destry was not a pacifist. As filmed in 1932, with Tom Mix in the starring role, the central character differed in that Destry did wear six-guns in that version.

The film was James Stewart's first western (he would not return to the genre until 1950, with Broken Arrow and Winchester 73), and was also notable for a ferocious cat-fight between Marlene Dietrich and Una Merkel, which apparently caused a mild censorship problem at the time of release.[2]

According to writer/director Peter Bogdanovich, Marlene Dietrich told him during a airplane ride that she and James Stewart had an affair during shooting and that she became pregnant and had the baby surreptitiously aborted without telling Stewart.[3]


Destry Rides Again was generally well accepted by the public, as well as critics. It was reviewed by Frank S. Nugent in the The New York Times, who noted that the film did not follow the usual Hollywood type-casting. On Dietrich's role, he characterized, "It's difficult to reconcile Miss Dietrich's Frenchy, the cabaret girl of the Bloody Gulch Saloon, with the posed and posturing Dietrich we last saw in Mr. Lubitsch's 'Angel'." Stewart's contribution was similarly treated, "turning in an easy, likable, pleasantly humored performance."[4]

Other versions


  1. ^ "Destry Rides Again credits." IMDb. Retrieved: November 18, 2011.
  2. ^ Quirk 2000, pp. 117–118.
  3. ^ Riva 1994, pp. 456, 500.
  4. ^ Nugent, Frank S. " 'Destry Rides Again' (1939)." The New York Times, originally published November 30, 1939. Retrieved: December 13, 2009.
  5. ^ Destry Rides Again (1932)
  • Beaver, Jim. "James Stewart." Films in Review, October 1980.
  • Coe, Jonathan. James Stewart: Leading Man. London: Bloomsbury, 1994. ISBN 0-7475-1574-3.
  • Eliot, Mark. Jimmy Stewart: A Biography. New York: Random House, 2006. ISBN 1-4000-5221-1.
  • "The Jimmy Stewart Museum Home Page." Retrieved: February 18, 2007.
  • Jones, Ken D., Arthur F. McClure and Alfred E. Twomey. The Films of James Stewart. New York: Castle Books, 1970.
  • Pickard, Roy. Jimmy Stewart: A Life in Film. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1992. ISBN 0-312-08828-0.
  • Prendergast, Tom and Sara, eds. "Stewart, James". International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers, 4th edition. London: St. James Press, 2000. ISBN 1-55862-450-3.
  • Prendergast, Tom and Sara, eds. "Stewart, James". St. James Encyclopedia of Popular Culture, 5th edition. London: St. James Press, 2000. ISBN 1-55862-529-1.
  • Quirk, Lawrence J. James Stewart: Behind the Scenes of a Wonderful Life. Montclair, New Jersey: Applause Books, 2000. ISBN 978-1557834164.
  • Riva, Maria. Marlene Dietrich. New York: Ballantine Books, 1994. ISBN 978-0345386458.
  • Robbins, Jhan. Everybody's Man: A Biography of Jimmy Stewart. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1985. ISBN 0-399-12973-1.
  • Thomas, Tony. A Wonderful Life: The Films and Career of James Stewart. Secaucus, New Jersey: Citadel Press, 1988. ISBN 0-8065-1081-1.

External links

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  • DESTRY RIDES AGAIN (1939) —    Jimmy Stewart, Marlene Dietrich, George Marshall (director)    Destry Rides Again is one of three films based on the same novel by Max Brand. Unlike the version made five years earlier, starring Tom Mix, this version bears little resemblance… …   Westerns in Cinema

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  • Femme ou démon — Destry Rides Again    Western de George Marshall, d après le roman de Max Brand, avec Marlene Dietrich, James Stewart, Charles Winninger, Brian Donlevy.   Pays: États Unis   Date de sortie: 1939   Technique: noir et blanc   Durée: 1 h 34… …   Dictionnaire mondial des Films

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