James Garner brings a variation on his "Maverick" persona to this classic satirical Western that, even more than Destry Rides Again, does for Westerns what The Princess Bride did for fairy-tale fantasy, at once spoofing and honoring the genre’s conventions and clichés.
Garner plays Jason McCullough, an easy-going, self-assured drifter who wanders into a rough-and-tumble frontier town looking to make a little extra money on his way to Australia, and winds up taking on the unenviable job of sheriff. Of course there’s a bullying clan of ranchers (headed by My Darling Clementine’s Walter Brennan, who’s hilarious) to contend with; other challenges include rowdy cowboys, an unfinished jail building that lacks bars in the windows and cell openings — and the mayor’s beautiful, spirited but mishap-prone daughter Prudy (very funny Joan Hackett).
Though McCullough prefers, like Jimmy Stewart in Destry, to use his brains instead of his fists, he’s not averse to using force when necessary. He’s never at a loss, and his methods are as clever as they are unorthodox. True to the genre, he cleans up the town — right down to a climactic sight gag with an explosive impact (if an inadvertent one) on operations at the local house of ill repute.
On DVD the film is packaged with Support
Your Local Gunfighter, an in-spirit-only sequel with the same
director and much of the same cast. Unfortunately, Gunfighter is neither as funny nor as family-friendly as the original film.
A classic satirical action-comedy Western, Destry Rides Again pits mild-mannered sheriff’s deputy Jimmy Stewart a reverse type of the typical John-Wayne two-fisted straight-shooting cowboy hero against a lawless town full of swindlers and murderers where sheriffs tend to wind up dead.
Copyright © 2000– Steven D. Greydanus. All rights reserved.