Monday, March 1, 2010

Monday Oaters - Rage at Dawn (1955) starring Randolph Scott

Just because you're paranoid it doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Yeah, it's become a cliche, but it definitely seems to be the attitude of the Reno brothers in today's feature, Rage at Dawn.

Rage at Dawn is the story of the Reno Brothers, wild west outlaws who become, according to the opening of the film, America's first train robbers. Yes, these are the same Reno Brothers that would be portrayed in the next year's Elvis Presley movie Love Me Tender, but there's no singing in this flick. Instead it's definitely a rootin'-tootin' film full of white and black hats, six-guns, betrayals and tough guys.

When one of the brothers is shot down during an aborted bank robbery, it becomes obvious that someone has betrayed them. They soon track down the informant who turns out to be the bartender at the local saloon, actually an undercover agent of the Peterson Detective Agency. In revenge, the boys knock him out, tie him up in his barn and set the place ablaze. They are able to act as they wish with impunity because they are paying off the local lawmen and judges, cutting them in on the loot from each of their jobs. Soon the Peterson Agency decides to bring in a new man, James Barlow, played by Randolph Scott. Barlow's plan is to infiltrate the gang by posing as a train robber (the company sets up a fake robbery for the Reno's to get wind of, with the full cooperation of the train company) and getting them to want to join him. Barlow also finds time to romance the Renos' sister, in whose house the brothers are living.

Of course, there is no way that this movie can really live up to the true epitome of the paranoid western The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, but it does a good job of evoking the distrust and suspicion that so often accompanies any criminal enterprise. This infection of paranoia is not limited solely to the Reno Brothers either, as, for example, when their co-conspirators first hear of the train robbery they immediately think that the Renos have pulled the job and are holding out on them. The question then becomes, as suspicious as the brothers are, is there any way for Barlow to actually gain their trust and lead them to capture without getting himself or his fellow agent killed?

The film is shot in color, and though it's supposed to take place in Southern Indiana (hey, at some time in this country's history, EVERYWHERE has been "the west"), the California scenery does not really look anything like that part of the country. Nonetheless, the movie is lifted by a number of very good performance. Besides Scott, it stars Forrest Tucker as Frank Reno, J. Carrol Naish as 'Sim' Reno, and Uncle Jesse himself, Denver Pyle as "good" brother Clint Reno.

No trailer today, I'm afraid, (if anyone out there can find one, let me know and I'll be happy to add it) though I will link you to a short clip on EVTV1 that will give you a taste of the film. Just click here for the clip.

Now, here's the skinny:
Title: Rage at Dawn
Release Date: 1955
Running Time: 87 min
Black and White
Starring: Randolph Scott
Directed by: Tim Whelan
Produced by: Unknown
Released by: RKO Radio Pictures

Rage at Dawn is available for free to watch or download here.
Amazon has it available on DVD: Rage at Dawn.
And Netflix has it available for rental: Rage at Dawn

If you've seen this flick, please be sure to leave a comment and let me and everyone else know what you thought.

Until next time, Happy Treasure Hunting,
-Professor Damian


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