Sunday, November 8, 2009

Destry Rides Again... and Again... and Again

 I found it very interesting in reading Artistic Director Greg MacKellan's program notes that Destry Rides Again is one of the most adapted western stories of our time!

The brain child of author Max Brand*, Destry was first adapted in 1932 by Universal and starred Tom Mix (this is when and how Harry Destry became "Tom" Destry - Tom Mix is pictured left).

While James Stewart and Marlene Dietrich get top honors for immortalizing the characters of Tom Destry and Frenchy in the 1939 version of Destry Rides Again, Audie Murphy and Thomas Mitchell would star in the 1954 remake entitled simply Destry (which would also star Mary Wickes!).

The most interesting remake however has to be the 1951 version entitled Frenchie starring Shelley Winters.

Greg discussed Frenchie during the "talk back" on Sunday, Nov. 1 , here's what he had to say:

The final screen version of the Destry story was a television series also entitled Destry, staring John Gavin (Right). However the character was not Harry or Tom, but Harrison Destry. Harrison, Tom Destry's son, was wrongfully imprisoned and, after he was released, sought justice from those who framed him. Just like his dad, he eschewed guns and violence whenever possible.

Destry didn't make it to the stage until David Merrick (in his debut on Broadway) brought him to the Great White Way in 1959 with the tremendous talent of Harold Rome and Leonard Gershe. The only other major production of the Musical was a London production in 1982 starring Alfred Molina.

Don't miss your chance to catch a truly rare musical, Destry Rides Again stars San Francisco's favorite chanteuse Connie Champagne, and runs until November 15 at the Eureka Theatre. For tickets click here or call (415) 255-8207.

*Max Brand was actually the acclaimed poet Fredrick Schiller Faust. He was one of the most prolific writers of all time having written nearly 30,000,000 words under 19 different pseudonyms. He is most famous for his characters Tom Destry and Dr. James Kildare.

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