It’s getting harder – watching all the A.C.Lyles 1960s westerns. You look at the cast and think, give them a good script and you will have a good western.
Unfortunately, Lyles and co-writer Steve Fisher weren’t able to do that and it’s the cast and viewers who suffer.
One of the problems in JOHNNY RENO (1965) is the number of characters, most of whom are very thinly written. Lon Chaney is in service again as a weak sheriff who can’t stand up to the town Mayor (played by Lyle Bettger).
It is Richard Arlen’s turn this time to have a walk-on part. Arlen is in a couple of scenes and has about two lines of dialogue. Such a waste.
Dana Andrews is a Marshall who stumbles into a hotbed of intrigue in a small town – he’s there to catch up with Jane Russell whom he knew years before. Jane ,of course , is a saloon gal. Their rekindled romance isn’t convincing.
Bettger is intent on killing Tom Drake who is accused of killing an Indian who happens to be the Indian chief’s son.
John Agar as a rancher who follows Bettger’s orders, as does store owner Robert Lowery. It’s obvious they are covering up the real killer.
Tom Drake gets a bit more characterisation as he accepts he may not survive and tells Andrews to get out of town.
The film has the usual punch-up between Andrews and Bettger ( though their doubles are very obvious.) And the shoot-outs are particularly violent.
Dana Andrews looked all of his 56 years in this.
Of the cast, Lyle Bettger and Tom Drake came off best.
I thought we would at least get a song from Jane, but no.
A great poster for an indifferent film. (“The Whole Town is to Blame.”)