Destry (film)

Destry is a 1954 American Technicolor Western film starring Audie Murphy, Mari Blanchard, Lyle Bettger and Thomas Mitchell.

Directed byGeorge Marshall
Produced byStanley Rubin
Written byMax Brand (novel Destry Rides Again)
Screenplay byEdmund H. North
D.D. Beauchamp
Story byFelix Jackson
StarringAudie Murphy
Mari Blanchard
Lyle Bettger
Thomas Mitchell
CinematographyGeorge Robinson
Edited byTed J. Kent
Universal Pictures
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • December 1, 1954 (1954-12-01) (United States)
  • January 19, 1955 (1955-01-19) (Los Angeles)
Running time
95 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$1.5 million (US)[1]

This, the third film version of Max Brand's Destry Rides Again, is closer to the 1939 Marlene Dietrich and James Stewart film version than it is to either the Brand original novel or the original 1932 film. Indeed, Halliwell's Film Guide calls it an "almost scene-for-scene remake."[2] George Marshall directed both later versions.


The sheriff (Trevor Bardette) of a small western town dies of a 'heart attack' (actually shot in the back) and the crooked mayor, The Honorable Hiram J. Sellers (Edgar Buchanan), and leading crook Phil Decker (Lyle Bettger) appoint the town drunk, Reginald T. "Rags" Barnaby (Thomas Mitchell), as the new sheriff, believing that he will be easily controlled by them. Rags, however, announces he is giving up drinking and refuses to accept Decker as his new deputy, telling them that he has someone else in mind: Tom Destry.

Destry (Audie Murphy) arrives on the stagecoach with great fanfare, but Rags is disappointed to find out that he is a very young man who refuses to carry a gun. Destry prefers friendly persuasion and use of the law, over violence. Destry finds out that the previous sheriff may not have died of a heart attack as had been claimed. He suspects that the sheriff was murdered while trying to resolve a land dispute, and he sets about finding out how the sheriff actually died. He tricks Decker's men into passing their guns to him in the bar and empties all bullets with some impressive sharp-shooting onto a wall-mounted game. He then retrieves the bullets for analysis.

Eventually it becomes clear that Decker killed the sheriff in order to further his plans to obtain all the land necessary to control and exploit the transit of cattle over those properties. The sheriff (Barnaby) is killed in the jail and suspects are missing. Decker sets up an ambush in the saloon for Destry. During a gun battle in the saloon, Brandy is killed trying to block Decker's fire, but Decker is killed too. Destry restores law and order to the town.



  1. 'The Top Box-Office Hits of 1955', Variety Weekly, January 25, 1956
  2. John Walker, ed. (1994). Halliwells Film Guide 10th edition. Harper Collins. p. 288. ISBN 0-00-638389-0.
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