Johnny Reno

Johnny Reno is a 1966 American western film made by A.C. Lyles Productions and released by Paramount Pictures. It starred Dana Andrews and Jane Russell. It was directed by R.G. Springsteen, produced by A.C. Lyles, with a screenplay by Andrew Craddock, Steve Fisher and A.C. Lyles.

Johnny Reno
1966 US Theatrical Poster
Directed byR.G. Springsteen
Produced byA.C. Lyles
Written byAndrew Craddock
Steve Fisher
A.C. Lyles
StarringDana Andrews
Jane Russell
Lon Chaney Jr.
Music byJimmie Haskell
CinematographyHarold E. Stine
Edited byBernard Matis
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • March 9, 1966 (1966-03-09)
Running time
83 minutes
CountryUnited States


The film features Dana Andrews, Jane Russell, and Lon Chaney, Jr., and involves a frontier marshal (Andrews) who finds himself desperately trying to stop a man he had brought to jail from being lynched by the furious townspeople.


U.S. Marshal Johnny Reno is on his way to the town of Stone Junction on personal business. While riding through the desert, the fugitive Conners brothers see him and believe he is tracking them, and open fire on him from ambush. Reno is able to defeat the pair, wounding Joe and killing his brother Ed. He takes Joe into custody, retrieves Ed's body and rides with them for Stone Junction. On the way, Joe explains that a posse from the town has been after them, along with the local Native American tribe, led by Chief Little Bear. Encountering several warriors from the tribe, Reno refuses to turn over his prisoner and tells them to explain to Chief Little Bear that Reno, who he recognizes as a man of honor, swears to him that he will seek justice. Arriving in Stone Junction, Reno is immediately accosted by the mayor, Jess Yates, and the town sheriff, Hodges. Hodges tells Reno he won't put the prisoner in his jail and Yates demands that Reno turn Connors over to him. Reno refuses and browbeats Hodges into allowing him to put Conners in his jail, infuriating Yates. A number of the people of the town openly show hostility to Reno, even attempting to shoot Conners in the street, including Yates's daughter. Reno inquires after Nona Williams, a girl he once was in love with whom he left years ago after she helped her brother escape from Reno's jail, thinking he was innocent. It turned out her brother was guilty and ended up killing several people while on the run, including his own father. Reno is told by Sheriff Hodges that Nona now owns and runs the local saloon, and Reno goes there looking for her, only to find Yates and his friends instead. While having a drink, Yates threatens Reno and orders him to leave town without his prisoner. When Reno refuses, Yates attacks him and the two men fight. Reno is able to defeat Yates and goes back to the jail, where he finds out that Sheriff Hodges has passed out rifles to some of the townsfolk on Yates's orders. Reno is suspicious but asks where Nona would be if not in the saloon, and Hodges sends him to Nona's ranch outside of town. Reno rides off to see her. Meanwhile, Yates gathers his men who are armed with the rifles from the sheriff's office. Reno arrives at the ranch and starts to talk to Nona about their past, but they are interrupted by two of Yates's henchmen and held at gunpoint. Reno grows suspicious and voices a theory--that maybe Conners is in fact innocent and the townsfolk want him silenced. The two henchmen inform him that it doesn't matter, and that they'll just hold him at the ranch until Conners is dead. Reno manages to throw a piece of furniture at the guards, distracting them long enough for him to draw and shoot them both dead. He reconciles with Nona and sets off for the town, where he arrives just in time to prevent Hodges from turning Conners over to the armed mob outside. Reno holds the crowd at gunpoint and has Hodges disarm them. The sheriff, his backbone strengthened by reinforcements, seizes the rifles back. Reno and Hodges hole up in the jail where Reno questions Conners and learns that he and his brothers were strangers in town who were plied with drink by the "friendly" townsfolk. After being called out into the street to check their horses, Chief Little Bears's son rode by and then appeared to be shot down by a hail of bullets from everywhere, after which the Conners brothers were accused of the crime by an angry mob. Taking advantage of a momentary distraction, Joe and Ed fled into the desert. Reno begins to put the pieces together and realizes that the mayor and his friends likely were the ones who actually killed the chief's son and are framing Conners to appease the chief and the tribe. After this, Hodges notices a disturbance in the street and they emerge to find the mayor and his men organizing an evacuation of the town under the guise of fear of an Indian attack. All the women but Nona leave the town along with the children and most of the men. Only about a dozen, Yates's confederates, stay behind to "defend" the town. Hodges is now convinced of the guilt of the mayor and agrees to follow Reno's lead, but they are barricaded in the jail with no one left in town but the hostile men. Night falls, and Yates takes Nona prisoner and sets up an ambush in the street. He calls to Reno by loudly playing a song memorable to Reno and Nona on the player piana, and Reno leaves the jail, telling Hodges to cover him. When the men notice Reno is in the street, they leave the saloon and Nona is able to escape. Reno and the rogue townsfolk start shooting at each other in the street. When one man almost shoots Reno in the back, he is killed by Sheriff Hodges, but Hodges is killed in the ensuing shootout. Reno makes it back into the jail, frees Conners and arms him, and tells him to watch the back door. Yates and his men approach with a wagon and torches, intending to burn them out of the jail, but Reno sends Nona to get help and sets up on the jail roof with some dynamite. He succeeds in killing several of the attackers and scattering the others and sneaks back inside, Conners killing one man who tried to watch the back of the jail in the process. The situation continues until sunup when one man loses his nerve and deserts Yates, riding into the desert where he is captured and tortured for the truth by Little Bear's tribe: Yates and his friends killed the chief's son because he fell in love with the mayor's daughter, who is half Native American. At the town, Conners, having had enough, manages to surprise Reno and knock him unconscious, being unwilling to let Reno die for him, and attempts to surrender in exchange for Reno's safety. Instead, Yates takes them both into the street where they are told what really happened and that the story will be that Conners killed Reno trying to escape. Chief Little Bear and his tribe arrive just in time along with their prisoner, who tells Yates he confessed, only to immediately be shot dead by the mayor. The tribe's warriors and the renegades begin exchanging bullets, and in the confusion, Reno is able to break free. He and Conners fight along with the tribe, and kill Yates and all his men. Afterwards, Reno rides to the fort the rest of the townsfolk were evacuated to, and tells the mayor's daughter what really happened, and tells the people to go back to the town and rebuild. He and Nona then depart to start their lives together.


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