Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {Destry Rides Again}

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This month's theme is Comedic Westerns, starting with 1939's Destry Rides Again, wasn't 1939 just the greatest year for making movies ever. In 1939, the Western was just moving from B movies to A movies, Stagecoach was made at the same time and cemented John Wayne as a mythic figure and here we have Jimmy Stewart parodying the cowboy.
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Kent owns the saloon and likes to cheat people out of their ranches in order to make more money. You can tell he's the bad guy, just look at those lapels and garish stripes!
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This here's the Mayor of Bottleneck. Never trust a mayor who's office is a table in the saloon.
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Guess who plays Frenchie, Kent's girlfriend and the real boss? I don't know why she was called Frenchie when she was clearly German. Marlene Dietrich was billed above Jimmy Stewart you know and she is clearly the star of the picture.
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Compare voices, not the songs, from this musical number with Madeline Kahn's "I'm Tired".
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Mischa Auer (brilliant character actor) steals the entire film by playing Boris, the Russian who wants to be a cowboy, if only his wife will let him.
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Unfortunately, the current sheriff happens to be honest and tries to enforce law and order. So, Kent and the Mayor announce that the sheriff had to leave town sudden like and they are appointing Wash, the town drunk as the new sheriff.
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In a convenient plot device, Wash used to be the deputy when the great Destry was sheriff and cleaned up the town with his guns and he's going to do the same thing.
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So he sends for Destry Junior to be his deputy. Jimmy Stewart is nothing like his father.
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Destry does want to clean up the town and enforce law and order simply by telling people stories with morals about how he had this friend once. That's right, he's Mr. Smith as sheriff and not senator.
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However, he hasn't carried a gun since his father was shot in the back and he wont give up his principals now that he's deputy.
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How do you expect the town to react to Jimmy Stewart as deputy? They laugh at him and Kent thinks he's a fool, but a smart one. Clearly Wash and Kent have never read Shakespeare.
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Love that dress! I think that this cat fight is better then the one between Miss Goddard and Miss Russell, mostly because Marlene Dietrich acts like she was actually trying to kill the other actress and Jimmy Stewart.
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How many other big female stars of 1939 would be willing to go through this scene and not care about how they looked at the end? I would say just Miss Dietrich and Katharine Hepburn. Who do you think?
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Just so that he isn't stuck with the name No-Guns Destry, Jimmy Stewart shows that he has held a gun before.
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The problem is that Destry, Wash and Boris have been looking for a forwarding address to the former sheriff and sooner or later, they might find the body, despite Frenchie's warnings to get out of town.
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I read in one of her biographies that they used real gold dust in her hair for this scene.
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Look how honest Destry is, he even puts his friend in jail for breaking the law.
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You know the formula of the Western and therefore what the action has been leading up to. The question is: does Destry use a gun at the end?
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1 comment:

Walt said...

I'll watch this every time it comes on tv.