With the Reno brothers robbing trains and banks across Indiana they use the town of Seymour as their retreat, paying a trio of officials to keep schtum. But their whereabouts is known by the Peterson Detective Agency who send in one of their men, James Barlow (Randolph Scott), to pose as an outlaw and not only get in with the corrupt officials but also the less than smart brothers. But things become complicated when James falls for Laura (Mala Powers) who just happens to be the brother’s sister and actually looks after them when ever they return home. Determined to do the job he was sent to do Barlow prepares to catch the gang during an early morning train robbery.
In 1955 there was a staggering 4 westerns released, okay that’s not the staggering part and in truth there were more but the staggering part comes from the 4 I am referring to were all Randolph Scott westerns. But that might throw up alarm bells because anyone knocking out westerns at that rate might just be going through the motions. And sadly “Rage at Dawn” certainly not only feels like Randolph Scott is going through the motions but everyone involved as this is a distinctly routine western involving a lawman going undercover to catch a gang of outlaws. In fact this reminds me of those one hour westerns from the 1930s which were a dime a dozen and knocked out on an almost conveyor belt of productions.
As such there is little in “Rage at Dawn” which stands out from the crowd as the storyline, including the romantic complication, is nothing but routine as are the sets and the actors who appear in supporting roles. In fact this is the sort of western where several scenes might have used footage from earlier westerns it has that much of a generic feel to it.
Now I mentioned that “Rage at Dawn” was 1 of 4 westerns which Randolph Scott starred in back in 1955 and whilst it would be fair to say that he delivers an entirely routine performance he did it so well it was always entertaining. Unfortunately the script does Scott and the rest of the cast little in the way of favour and some of the dialogue is so over written that it feels like it has been lifted straight out of a crime novel rather than written for the screen.
What this all boils down to is that “Rage at Dawn” is just a middle of the road western from the middle of the 1950s. It recycles a storyline which was frequently used back in the 1930s and relies heavily on the popularity of Randolph Scott to make it watch able.