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Rage at Dawn More at IMDbPro »

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19 out of 19 people found the following review useful:

Better than average Western

Author: lorenellroy from United Kingdom
21 October 2004

It is more than twenty minutes into the movie before its star Randolph Scott makes his appearance and his lean craggy presence gives a decided lift to proceedings .He plays an undercover agent sent to pose as a train robber and infiltrate the Reno brothers gang who -aided by corrupt local officials -are wreaking havoc in Indiana .He then persuades the gang to embark on a train robbery with a view to entrapping them . The script is by the cult pulp crime novelist Horace McCoy and is based on a story by another feted pulpster ,Frank Gruber, and it is slick and efficient with solid performance from a sturdy supporting cast which includes dependable performers like Forrest Tucker ,and J Carroll Naish as two of the Reno brothers Handsome photography and the brisk direction of Tim Whelan are distinct assets and the historically accurate finale ends proceedings on a gritty and powerful note as frontier justice takes over from the rule of law .

A good little movie which Western devotees will like

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17 out of 18 people found the following review useful:

Good Western; Great Cast

Author: ( from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
20 May 2004

"Rage of Dawn" is one of a series of excellent westerns made by Randolph Scott in the 1950s. This one has Scott posing as a train robber in order to infiltrate the Reno Brothers gang in 1866.

The brothers Frank (Forrest Tucker), Sim (J. Carroll Naish) and John (Myron Healey) among others are ambushed during a holdup attempt in which their youngest brother is killed. They suspect an informer. It turns out to be Peterson Detective Agency man Murphy (Arthur Space) who is quickly eliminated. Back at the Peterson office, Mr. Peterson (William Forrest) assigns Monk Paxton (Kenneth Tobey) to the case along with ex-southern spy James Barlow (Scott). They stage a phony train robbery in order to gain the gang's confidence. They then take refuge at Barlow's "uncle's" (Ralph Moody) ranch and await contact from the gang.

Meanwhile, Barlow has become acquainted with the Reno's sister Laura (Mala Powers) and sparks fly. Good Reno brother Clint (Denver Pyle) pleads with Barlow to take his sister "away from all of this". Barlow gets in with the gang and learns that the local Judge (Edgar Buchanan), prosecutor (Howard Petrie) and sheriff (Ray Teal) are involved with the gang.

Barlow sets them up in a train robbery and the Reno Brothers are arrested. Concerned citizens Fisher (Trevor Bardette) and Dedrick (James Lydon) form a lynch mob and go to the jail, overpower the local sheriff (George Wallace) and.......

This has got to be one of the greatest casts of veteran western performers ever to appear in one film. Western lovers will know what I'm talking about. In addition to those mentioned above you'll spot Mike Ragan (aka Holly Bane), Dennis Moore, Chubby Johnson and William Phipps in other roles.

One of Scott's better westerns of the period.

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15 out of 16 people found the following review useful:

Formula Scott Western

Author: jamil-5 from Montclair, N.J.
13 June 2001

Any movie that has J. Carroll Naish as a cowboy can't be all bad (he's good) and pros like Kenneth Tobey and Edgar Buchanon have a certain "authenticity" that benefits a western. Forrest Tucker could be a good guy or a bad guy as the occasion demanded. Here, he's in his nasty, bad guy mode, pumping lead at people and even burning an informer alive. Tucker heads a gang of notorious robbers, including three of his brothers, that owns the corrupt lawmen of one Indiana county. In order to undo them, Randolph Scott, a resourceful spy, must be infiltrated into the gang. To complicate matters, Tucker and Naish's sister, who disapproves of their illegal ways, falls in love with Scott but is disillusioned when he appears to be an outlaw like them. Almost everything (there is a slight surprise at the end) works out as one would expect. Scott's presence carried many a mediocre western and, with interesting actors supporting him, it happens here but don't expect anything more than variations on a familiar theme.

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10 out of 10 people found the following review useful:

Would it have made a difference knowing what I really am?

Author: Spikeopath from United Kingdom
5 March 2009

This is the true story of the Reno brothers....Clint, a respected farmer, and Frank, Simeon, John, and Bill...who were the first train robbers in American history. Looting, burning and killing, this infamous clan rode through the middle border states setting the pattern for the great outlaw bands which were to follow: the James boys, the Daltons and the Youngers.

The Year 1866, the place is Southern Indiana.

Well not quite Indiana exactly as the film was shot on location at Columbia State Historic Park, and apparently some Western purists see this as a blip on the movies Western worth! (hmm) I don't conspire to that at all since what I want from a B Western such as this is a lush Western feel, with identifiable good and bad guys. I feel that director Tim Whelan achieves the latter and his cinematographer Ray Rennahan achieves the former. Rage At Dawn does have a sense of seen it all before about it, but that's not in detriment to it because it's possibly a picture that has been copied more than it has copied from others before it. It's nice to have a real solid Western using a proper and reliable story to work from. While using top professional actors like Forrest Tucker and J. Carrol Naish to be bad fellas obviously helps the piece; as does having the genre legend that is Randolph Scott as your ebullient good guy. Scott fans who haven't seen the picture should be advised, tho, that he isn't actually in the film for the first third. But as always he's worth the wait and it's clever of Whelan to keep us waiting whilst fully forming the Reno legend.

With some nicely staged set pieces (the train scenes are well worth our time) and a fabulously dark turn of events in the finale that goes against the grain (shadow play supreme at work), this becomes a genre film well worth taking a peek at. 7/10

Footnote: DVD/Public Domain prints of the film are low on quality and do not do justice to the location and costuming. The best print I have seen of this film was on Commercial British TV. Caution is advised on where you source the film from.

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7 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Above-average Western, except for location

Author: rlquall from Middle Tennessee
18 August 2006

This is a well-cast, well-directed, tightly-scripted film (only 87 minutes). The cast is amazing for what had to be a fairly low budget RKO picture from the mid-1950's; Randolph Scott was an established star while Forrest Tucker, J. Carrol Naish, and Denver Pyle were all established, talented Western performers and Edgar Buchanan was one of the best Western character actors of all time. What hurts the movie severely and is its major flaw is the setting. Nothing about one single shot of the film looks anything like Southern Indiana or anywhere else in the Midwest, and exactly like California, where it was actually shot. This lack of authenticity is distracting, in some scenes more than others, but never completely destroys the fine performances. Like some of the others, I would like to know more about the historical Reno Brothers and how closely this film represents their true story; I'm sure that it's somewhat closer than Elvis' ''Love Me Tender'', which is about the same topic and came out the next year.

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

Enjoyable Western based on legendary gang with an excellent Randolph Scott

Author: ma-cortes
1 March 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Western about one of the most famous outlaws bandits of them all . The year 1866 , the location is southern Indiana , this is the true story about Reno brothers : Frank , Simeón , John , Bill , being exception the good Clint , a respected farmer (Denver Pyle) . It's a retelling of the wild adventures that made the Reno brothers clan legendary among outlaws passing into American folklore . They were the first train robbers in American history and killing and looting . This famous gang rode through the middle border states , setting the model for the future noted bandit bunches as : Doolin , James , Younger, Dalton.. Forrest Tucker and J.Carroll Naish are the leaders of the Southwestern outlaws gangs pursued by lawmen . Reno brothers join forces with town authorities , judge and sheriffs (Edgar Buchanan and Ray Teal) . Film starts with a fateful raid but they have been betrayed and execute a killing , burning to agent Peterson for revenge . Then , a special agent (Randolph Scott) along with a supporter (Kenneth Tobey) are assigned in order to get the bad guys , as they carry out a set-up , simulating the train robbery . Meanwhile , the protagonist falls in love with gang's sister (Mala Powers). The picture is based on facts that had a sad finale . As ten members of the Reno gang were lynched in three separate incidents in 1868 . The first three were taken by vigilantes from a train . Three others were lynched at a later time . They were technically in federal custody when they were lynched. This is believed to be the only time in U.S. history that a federal prisoner had ever been lynched by a mob before a trial.

Good Western in which the Reno gang pull off raid banks , treasure offices , trains , and other robberies in post-civil war , Indiana . Stylish , fast paced , solid , meticulous and a violent look with numerous shootouts . Randolph Scott leaving time ago the secondary roles as when he was still playing supporting characters in top films as ¨Jesse James¨ (Henry King) , ¨Virginia city¨ (Michael Curtiz) and ¨The spoilers¨ (Ray Enright) . Scott also played a famed outlaw in ¨Doolins of Oklahoma¨ (Gordon Douglas) . The support cast makes equally notable performances . The film is shot in California State parks as it is shown on the colorful cinematography by the nice cameraman Ray Rennahan . Storyline by Horace McCoy and Frank Gruber , two usual and important Western screenwriters . The motion picture was splendidly directed by Tim Whelan (co-author ¨Thief of Bagdag¨) . The flick will appeal to Western lovers and Randolph Scott fans

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6 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

A fine western, Scott and Tucker shine!

Author: oldsenior from Los Angeles, CA
26 June 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

First a bit of trivia: In the opening segment as the Reno Boys are riding into the Indiana Territory township for the robbery you can see an American Flag (with 48 stars I imagine) in the background with a California state flag underneath it, with it's bear in the center. The movie was shot in part in California's Columbian Historic Park in 1955..................... Anyway, I thought the movie was excellent and realistic, well told, the writing was excellent and well acted by everyone involved. What a superlative cast: Tucker was excellent, as evil as I ever saw him in any movie, Buchanan, a wonderful actor, was his sly self to perfection, as usual, Mala Powers as beautiful as usual in what I consider an unnecessary part (I wonder if this was a true part of the story), in 1955 you had to have a love interest to sell movie tickets or they supposed it to be. You also had Jimmy Lydon (Henry Aldrich), Arthur Space, Myron Healey, Kenneth Tobey, Denver Pyle, all familiar faces even today, doing what they did best; act, under the fine direction of Tim Whelan, creating what I would think 1866 was like. Also with great music by Paul Sawtell and photographed beautifully by Ray Rennahan. A Fine film that held my interest.

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5 out of 5 people found the following review useful:


Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York
7 July 2007

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Though Randolph Scott is the nominal star, Rage At Dawn really isn't about him. It's about the gang he's sent to capture, the infamous Reno brothers who operated out of Indiana right after the Civil War. Scott in fact does not make an appearance until a quarter of the film is over.

After one Reno brother is killed in a failed bank robbery, the three remaining outlaw Renos, Forrest Tucker, J. Carrol Naish, and Myron Healey, are still very much in business. They kill an informant who was working for the Peterson(Pinkerton) Detective Agency and plan future robberies at the home of their sister Laura who is played by Mala Powers.

William Peterson assigns two new men to the job, Kenneth Tobey and a former Confederate spy Randolph Scott. The rest of the story is about their capture and the aftermath.

With a little research I found the story hardly sticks to the facts. Scott for instance is a totally fictional character though the Pinkertons were very much involved in the apprehension. Mala Powers is portrayed as deploring their crimes, but still loyal to her brothers, in fact she was quite the wild child in her day and aided and abetted the male Renos in every way. Only two of the Renos were in fact lynched in the end by a mob, the character of John Reno who Myron Healey plays died in prison.

One thing is true, by intimidation and bribery the Renos did have a safe haven in their home county in Indiana. The three county officials who were on the Reno tab are Edgar Buchanan-judge, Ray Teal-sheriff, and Howard Petrie-county prosecutor. The three of them are the best thing in Rage At Dawn. I don't blame Randolph Scott for saying that he'd rather go after them than the Reno brothers.

Scott is a cynical hero in this one, part of his job in the Civil War as a spy was romancing the wives of high placed union officials, so he's got no problem courting Mala Powers to get the job done. I doubt the real Laura Reno would have fallen for it. Still Scott turns in a good performance.

As does the rest of the cast in this film, though I will say Indiana is not the usual setting for a western. Maybe this one should be called a Midwestern.

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7 out of 9 people found the following review useful:

"The Reno's are worth a lot of money..... dead!"

Author: classicsoncall from Florida, New York
8 July 2005

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Set in 1866 in Southern Indiana, "Rage at Dawn" is based on the true story of the Reno Brothers, purportedly America's first band of train robbers. In the opening sequence, the citizens of North Vernon lie in silent wait for the Brothers, tipped off to a bank job they intend to foil. Though one brother is killed and left behind, the Reno's return to exact revenge on the Peterson Detective Agency contact who placed them at the bank with unique precision.

Enter Randolph Scott as Peterson Agent James Barlow; his mission, along with fellow agent Monk Claxton (Kenneth Tobey), is to infiltrate the Reno Gang, gain their confidence, and put an end to the operation. Faking a thirty thousand dollar train holdup, Barlow attracts the Reno's attention, and gradually gets around to whetting their appetite for a hundred thousand dollar payday.

The film boasts a top notch cast of TV and big screen Western veterans, including Forrest Tucker, J. Carroll Naish, and Myron Healey as the Reno Brothers, Denver Pyle as the honest Reno, and Mala Powers as sister Laura providing a romantic interest for Scott's character. Fans will also recognize Ray Teal as a dishonest sheriff in league with the Reno's, and Edgar Buchanan as what else, but a greedily smarmy judge who coordinates Barlow's entry in the Reno circle.

The story itself proceeds rather smoothly for the Peterson agents; for his part, Barlow's plan moves along virtually without a hitch. There are no cliffhanger scrapes for him to get out of, unless you count the relationship with Laura he uses to get close to her brothers. The shootout with the Reno's does leave his partner Claxton dead, chalked up to one of those hazards of the trade. Scott's character gets a chance to exhibit some heroism in the face of a lynch mob, but fails to stop the town of Seymour's citizens from hanging the Reno's.

I would stop short of hailing this film as a great Western as some other posters have noted. It's a passable film, though not as good as some of Randolph Scott's other Westerns, including "Ride the High Country", "The Tall T" or "The Bounty Hunter". Filmed in Technicolor, the print I viewed was rather garish at times, offering orange colored gunshot bursts and blue hued night time scenes. As a chronicle of the actual story of the Reno Brothers I would have to reserve judgment, as I don't know enough of the historical facts to have an opinion.

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4 out of 4 people found the following review useful:

Yet another very good Randolph Scott film...and with a very unusual ending...very, very unusual.

Author: planktonrules from Bradenton, Florida
22 April 2010

This is yet another exceptional Randolph Scott western. Considering how many wonderful films he made in the 1950s, I certainly wasn't surprised that I liked this one.

In a couple ways, however, this film is a bit unconventional. First, Scott doesn't even appear in the film until about 20 minutes into the film! Until then, it consisted of showing the exploits of an outlaw gang in Indiana--a very hilly and California-like version of Indiana (where n real life I'd heard the highest elevation is reportedly 9 inches above sea level). Second, the ending is just plain bizarre--not at all bad, but really caught me by surprise and won't be something the average person could predict. I mention this because although the main plot of the film isn't that unusual (I've seen many similar to it), the thing is handled so well and offers some nice twists that make it well worth seeing--in addition to Scott's usual seemingly effortless performance.

Scott enters the film when he's recruited to infiltrate an evil gang that isn't exactly in the old west, but Southern Indiana (I lived just over the boarder--believe me, this is NOT a typical locale for a western). However, as you'd expect, there is a nice and semi-innocent girl who gets tossed into the mix--making Scott wonder if it's possible for him to do his job and the girl...I mean, get the girl.

Overall, the film is well acted and directed as well as a lot of fun. Plus, it helps that the supporting actors (such as Forrest Tucker and J. Carroll Naish) are so good. Worth seeing--and a must-see if you love the genre.

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