Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Reno (1939)


“You just watch my smoke, Abe. I'm gonna make Reno the biggest little city in the world.”

            Reno is one of the over five hundred films that were made in Hollywood in 1939. With so many big time films made in this year the other hundreds of films that were made tend to go under the radar. Reno I only took notice of because Gail Patrick played a lead part and I am sure that if the cast was lesser known it would be completely forgotten.
            A woman named Mrs. Ryde is in a gambling house run by Bill Shear (Richard Dix). She finds the roulette wheel is being controlled electronically. Bill tries to blackmail her into keeping the control a secret. Unfortunately Mrs. Ryde called the police before Bill could speak to her. Bill is arrested and at the trial is his own lawyer. He calls himself as a character witness under his real name Bill Shayne. He tells the court about how he first came to Reno in 1905.
            When he came to Reno he went to see a lawyer named Augustus Welch. Bill meets Welch’s secretary Jessie (Patrick). He likes her and asks her to do some typing for him at night. Bill takes a case for a drunkard and wins. He takes Jessie out to celebrate and asks her to marry him. Eventually Bill begins to take mining cases to help the miners in the desert and becomes very successful.
            One day Jessie comes home and finds Bill speaking to another woman. He has taken her divorce case. Jessie is not happy with him for talking to another woman and taking a divorce case. In time the mines dry up and Bill no longer has any clients. The woman he helped with the divorce sent him one thousand dollars. Not long after this women begin to pour into Reno looking for divorces and gambling comes into town.
            Work takes Bill away from home and planned engagements. He does not even come home for their daughter’s birthday. Jessie goes looking for him. She finds Bill with one of his female clients at a restaurant. Jessie tells Bill that John, a client’s uncle she had been showing around town, will marry her if they get a divorce. At dinner in a different restaurant Bill punches John. Jessie leaves Bill and sells their house. Bill tells his friends he could not take his own medicine and that he should fight his divorce. Jessie’s lawyer tells Bill that she wants him to fight. On the day of the divorce hearing Bill is summoned to a meeting of lawyers. He has been disbarred. When Jessie leaves with John and their daughter she tells Bill he can see their daughter whenever he wants to. He replies that he does not want to see her she can have everything she wants with her mother and John.
            At the trial Bill and the court learn that Mrs. Ryde is Bill’s daughter. The case gets thrown out.
            Gail Patrick and Richard Dix were excellent together. Gail Patrick always played the other woman or the snotty woman the others never liked. She was a very good actress who does not get enough credit. Patrick was a very good leading lady. Dix was perfect in role. He too, I feel, is an actor who does not get enough credit. I like both Patrick and Dix in their other roles I have seen them in.

            Reno is a typical film story where someone finds success, gets everything they want, then loses it, and for some shady reason gets thrown in jail and then is let go at trial. Despite being a typical story Reno was very good. It was well made and perfectly acted by Gail Patrick and Richard Dix. Reno is hard to find it is not available on Youtube or DVD. I watched the film through TCM some time ago. Keep an eye if the channel airs it again.