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Destry Runs into Trouble on DVD
on March 5, 2005
"Destry Rides Again" is a five star, ten gallon hat of an adventure that casts gangly James Stewart as the unassuming Marshall of a lawless town. At first, Tom Destry's unassuming good nature pegs him as a push over amongst the criminal element in the neighborhood, as well as by the spurious ladies of the evening, fronted by the erotic intercontinental harlot, Frenchy (Marlene Dietrich). However, very soon Destry begins to reassert his power as the law of the land - a pivotal epiphany that leads to violence and death. There's also some great comedy to be had - particularly in a scene in which Destry decides to cool Frenchy off - literally, by soaking her with some ice water. Dietrich's rendition of "See What The Boys In The Backroom'll Have" proves why she was the toast of Berlin cabarets for many years before coming to Hollywood. The forgotten Mischa Auer co-stars as Boris - a simple-minded philanderer in a comedic subplot, who gets his comeuppance in the end. Jack Carson, Una Merkel and Charles Winninger also give credible performances.
THE TRANSFER: The genuine disappointment is that Universal doesn't quite understand they have a winner in this film. The transfer is so terribly marred by fading, age related artifacts and a poorly balanced print that there is very little to recommend this film on DVD. Contrast levels appear under exposed during night scenes and slightly over exposed elsewhere. There's a glaring and distracting amount of film grain present throughout the transfer that really distracts from the visual style and performances. Fine detail is lost in most scenes. Rarely does the quality of this disc surpass mediocrity. The audio is mono and fairly presented, though the critical ear will note distortions present.
EXTRAS: As usual for Universal classics - NONE!
BOTTOM LINE: This film should be seen because it is a gem among westerns - just not in its current condition!