Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Destry Rides Again and Again

If you are a fan of Jimmy Stewart (and who isn't?) you are familiar with 1939's Destry Rides Again.  Stewart plays Tom Destry, who is trying to uphold the law in a new, non-violent way.

This series goes back to a Max Brand novel, with Harry Destry as the hero.  Tom Mix made the first Destry Rides Again in 1932, and he changed the character's first name to Tom, which apparently was his preference for most of his characters.  That name stuck, as Stewart and later Audie Murphy also used Tom. 

Of interest is that the 1932 Tom Mix version was produced by Carl Laemmle Jr., who had also produced a few rather famous horror flix called Frankenstein, Dracula and The Mummy.

I have always wondered why the 1954 version with Audie Murphy is called Destry and the other two versions are both ...Rides Again!  Well, Destry Rides a Third Time probably wouldn't work as a title. 

On TV in 1964 his name in the series "Destry" was Harrison Destry, and he was the son of Tom Destry.  I may need to consult a genealogist, so let's stick to Jimmy Stewart!

The cast of 1939's Destry Rides Again is quite large.  Most of the extras and bit actors are not well know, at least to me.  That is where some research comes in handy.  Just click on the link to each actor near the bottom of the full cast list on IMDb.  Here are some names and the number of roles they have played during their career, according to IMDB.
Duke York - 165
Blackie Whiteford - 298
Dan White - 255
Hank West - 1
Minerva Urecal - 269
Jack Tornek - 148
Harry Tenbrook - 359

Jimmy Stewart made 100 films and Marlene Dietrich only made 54.  Of course having a lead part is much more work, whereas an extra is probably done in a day or two, after his/her scenes are shot.  I wonder whatever became of Hank West?

Dickie Jones was 12 when he was in Destry R.A., made in the same year that he was in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, also with Jimmy Stewart.  Dickie had 111 roles to his credit, with 77 of them before he was 18 years old.  His most prominent role came at age 13 in 1940 when he was the voice of Pinocchio for Walt Disney.

Check out some of the others and try to find a favorite bit actor for every film you see.  And if anyone knows how poor Hank West is doing, please let me know.

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