Rage at Dawn
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Rage at Dawn is a 1955 American Technicolor Western film directed by Tim Whelan, and starring Randolph Scott, Forrest Tucker, Mala Powers, and J. Carrol Naish. It purports to tell the true story of the Reno Brothers, an outlaw gang which terrorized the American Midwest, particularly Southern Indiana, in the period immediately following the American Civil War.
|Rage at Dawn|
|Directed by||Tim Whelan|
|Produced by||Nat Holt|
|Screenplay by||Horace McCoy|
|Story by||Frank Gruber|
J. Carrol Naish
|Music by||Paul Sawtell|
|Edited by||Harry Marker|
Nat Holt Productions
|Distributed by||RKO Radio Pictures|
In this film's version of the story, four of the Reno Brothers are corrupt robbers and killers while a fifth, Clint (Denver Pyle) is a respected Indiana farmer. A sister, Laura (Mala Powers), who has inherited the family home, serves as a housekeeper and cook to the brothers. Some of them served in the Civil War, which has given them a hardened attitude toward violence. One brother is killed when they go after a bank in a nearby town, leading them to draw the conclusion that someone that they know is an informant, as the men of the town appeared to have been waiting for them. They soon learn that it was Murphy, a local bartender, whom they then murder by knocking him out, and tying him up in his barn, which they then set ablaze. The bartender was in fact an agent employed by the Peterson (in real life, Pinkerton) Detective Agency sent to investigate and provide information about the Reno Brothers' crimes.
His replacement is Scott's character, James Barlow, a former secret agent for the Confederacy, who determines to join the gang by posing as a train robber, a ploy which is aided by his being allowed to pull off a staged train robbery (with the full cooperation of the train crew) in the area. (He also begins courting the sister.) Grudgingly accepted by the brothers (led by Tucker's character, Frank Reno), he soon learns that they have corrupted local officials, including a judge (played by veteran character actor Edgar Buchanan), allowing them to operate in that part of the state with near-impunity. The brothers plan a train robbery with Barlow, but this proves to be a setup in which they are captured following a shootout and taken to an area jail outside the jurisdiction of the corrupted officials. (In the shootout, Barlow's fellow Peterson agent, Monk Claxton, is killed.) Townspeople are incited to mob violence and break into the jail and lynch the brothers before they can be brought to trial despite Barlow's best efforts to stop this. (Apparently the sister accepts his efforts as genuine; in the film's final scene she is still with Barlow.)
- Randolph Scott as James Barlow
- Forrest Tucker as Frank Reno
- Mala Powers as Laura Reno
- J. Carrol Naish as Simeon 'Sim' Reno
- Edgar Buchanan as Judge
- Myron Healey as John Reno
- Howard Petrie as Lattimore – Prosecuting Attorney
- Ray Teal as Sheriff of Seymour
- William Forrest as William Peterson
- Denver Pyle as Clint Reno
- Trevor Bardette as Fisher
- Kenneth Tobey as Monk Claxton
This film was shot on location in Columbia State Historic Park, California, which means that the buildings have a somewhat authentic period look and resembles many parts of southern Indiana near Seymour which are very hilly.
As the gang is riding into the town to rob the bank, you'll see the unmistakable sight of electric lines and power poles. Also highly noticeable as they pass through town, if you look overhead, you not only see the power lines, but they pass what must be a post office, flying the Stars and Stripes, but also the California State Flag.
- "Rage at Dawn: Detail View". American Film Institute. Retrieved June 2, 2014.