R.K.O. Radio Pictures
Randolph Scott stars as James Barlow, a special agent sent west to infiltrate and break up the Reno brothers gang. To that end, Scott/Barlow stages a fake train robbery to get the Reno’s attention. Once taken in the gang, Barlow stages another train robbery…but it’s all a set up, to capture the Reno’s with a spectacular trackside shoot-’em-up.
Sierra Railroad 4-6-0 #3 (built in 1891 by Rogers Locomotive Works) is the real star of this picture along with its 3 car consist. Engine and coaches are decorated for the fictitious “Ohio & Mississippi Railroad”. As a plus, both train “robberies” are filmed in wonderful low-light on the sunny side of the consist.
Come enjoy Sierra’s 10-wheeler going through its paces as Randolph Scott once again brings law and order to tame the Wild West.
“Come ride the little train that is rolling down the tracks to the Junction…” Oops, sorry. Rage at Dawn was filmed 8 years before Petticoat Junction appeared on the scene.
Having said that, Sierra #3 and shorty coach/combine #5 in this image did indeed serve as the Hooterville Cannonball for 1960s television’s most famous train.
25 minutes into our movie we find #3 leading its coaches down the track, around curves and right at the camera.
Note: Apologies for all the blurry screen caps. Rage is in the public domain and I reviewed a rather fuzzy print off the internet.
Another runby on the O & M’s beautifully-ballasted track. Randy talks over the fake robbery details with the baggage man. Yeah, this bandanna over my nose completes the train-robber ensemble.
Having first thrown off the strong box, Randy leaps from the baggage car where his accomplice awaits with two horses. Both bandanna and hat remain firmly in place during the entire stunt.
To make it look good for the passengers, the train crew takes a few halfhearted pot shots at the duo.
Oh, it’s in all the papers. This is SURE to get the Reno’s attention (someone else is chiseling in on their racket).
Romantic interlude. Between train hold ups, Randy soon takes up with local tomato Laura Reno (played by Mala Powers) rahr-RAHR! NOT realizing she’s the sister of all the gang brothers. Frank Reno (played by Forrest Tucker) is NOT amused and tells her to lay off with the fraternization.
68 minutes in, the stage is set for the second train hold up. Bad guys are on one side of the track, whilst the good guys wait on the other.
Great scenes of the oncoming train. I really applaud the filmmakers for getting so much low light on the subject.
At just the right location, Randy uncouples the rear two coaches, then climbs up and “decorates the car tops”.
As the Cannonball speeds along, Randy climbs the wood pile up to the locomotive cab. “This is a stick up!”.
By the way, the cord wood in the tender is just for show. #3 was built as a coal-burner, then shortly thereafter converted to burn oil.
As the ten-wheeler comes to a stop, the Reno gang waits with guns drawn. The outlaws swarm the baggage car ordering the clerk to hand over the strong box.
Ambush! The good guys ride to the rescue as turncoat Randy reloads his six-shooter trackside.
Beautiful rods-down view of Sierra #3 from a different angle. As the fireman looks on, Forrest Tucker sneaks up on the other side of #3 to get a better shot at Randy.
Tipped off by the engineer, Randolph shoots it out with Tucker. Great scenes as Tucker climbs the front of the steam engine and takes pot shots at Randy in the cab.
The adversaries are now so close to each other, it’s almost laughable. FINALLY, Randy nails Tuck who takes a spectacular pratfall off the running board.
Classic shot of Randolph Scott shooting at the baddies from the cab. What’s this? Why it’s good old Uncle Joe from Petticoat Junction (played by Edgar Buchanan) blasting away from the baggage car with his revolver.
Of course Scott/Barlow and posse save the day with Randy winning Laura’s hand in marriage.
As a bonus, I found these two hand-tinted lobby cards from the final shoot-out scene. The artist thought it would be more exciting if the baggage car was RED instead of a dull green. Hmmm…that’s a terrific shot of Tuck’s stunt double jumping off the engine.
The train scenes in Rage at Dawn were great fun. I again beg forgiveness for the out-of-focus screen caps. Artistic expediency, I’d say. So until we meet again next month, Happy Trails To You!
Here’s what IMDb has to say about Rage at Dawn:
If you have ANY information about this movie you’d like to share, please contact me at: Lindsay.Korst@gmail.com, or leave a comment. Thanks and enjoy the blog!