Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Tonight's Movie: Affair in Reno (1957)

John Lund is one of my favorite actors. He made 28 films in his film career, which spanned 1946 until his retirement in 1962. I've seen nearly half of his films and have collected most of the remaining titles.

My latest Lund acquisition is AFFAIR IN RENO (1957), for which I'm grateful to reader Maricatrin.

Lund plays Bill Carter, who works for wealthy J.B. Del Monte (Thurston Hall). Del Monte sends Bill to Reno to dissuade his daughter Gloria (Angela Greene) from marrying mobster Tony Lamarr (John Archer). Bill's instructions are to buy off the unscrupulous Lamarr if he can't get Gloria to see reason, and he's carrying $100,000 sewn into his coat to make the payoff.

Lamarr's goons (including Alan Hale Jr.) attack Bill as soon as he lands at the Reno Airport, hoping to swipe the money they believe he's carrying. Upon hearing this news, Del Monte hires a bodyguard for Bill; to Bill's shock, the person assigned to keep him -- and the money! -- safe is a woman, Nora Ballard (Doris Singleton). Bill is dubious but gradually grows to appreciate Nora, as she not only protects him but helps him in his dealings with both Gloria and Lamarr.

AFFAIR IN RENO is watchable, with just enough going for it to keep it from being boring, but unfortunately that's about all that can be said for it. Its style is along the lines of a weak TV sitcom, and the excruciatingly bad stock music score adds to the "TV" feel. One senses the filmmakers were going for something bright and perky with this movie, but there's no bubbly fizz, just a fairly leaden story.

Lund is good in this role reversal scenario, where he's constantly in need of a woman's protection, but he has zero romantic chemistry with Singleton. She's confident and forthright yet, between script and actress, there's also a lack of depth to her character, and I just couldn't see her as an appealing romantic lead, no matter how much Bill claims to be falling for her.

Greene and Archer's characters are unlikeable, and there's not much more to be said for this 75-minute film, which is short on plot and characters. Some location footage in Reno might have jazzed it up a little, but stock footage of the well-known "Biggest Little City in the World" sign in downtown Reno is all we get.

AFFAIR IN RENO is a Republic film which was directed by R.G. Springsteen and filmed in Naturama by Jack Marta.

I'm very glad to have had the chance to see it, but this one is for Lund completists only -- and I'm one of them!


OpenID vienna said...

I'm a Lund fan too. Could never understand why he wasn't a bigger star after his great performance in A Foreign Affair.. I don't know this one but will look out for it. Have you seen Steel Town? He and Ann Sheridan make a great team.

12:04 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Great to hear from another Lund fan! My favorite is NO MAN OF HER OWN -- he is just marvelous in it. Stanwyck is great but it's the interaction of the two of them which makes the movie.

I also really like him as the millionaire who loves to cook in DUCHESS OF IDAHO.

For years I thought of Lund only as the "other man" in HIGH SOCIETY so it's been great to become familiar with his other work.

Very happily STEEL TOWN is another of my recent Lund acquisitions! I hope to watch it before long, especially in light of your positive words. Thanks!

Best wishes,

12:29 AM  
Blogger dv h said...

Not sure how I got interested in John Lund. Maybe it was some pictures I found in a book. They were examples of Paramount's attempt to publicize him as a second Clark Gable. They had him posed in exact copies of some MGM Gable stills of the late 30's and early 40's. The photos were printed side by side. This studio publicity gimmick intrigued me (as well as striking me as a terrible idea. Why try to make Lund "another" anybody?).

Not too long after that, I saw him in Paramount's all-star Variety Girl (1947), doing a cameo with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope. He was presented in an important way. It got me wondering why he didn't really make it as a star and why he was forgotten. About the only performances of his I had seen were in To Each His Own, with Olivia de Havilland, the dual role that was his first in the movies, and The Perils Of Pauline, with Betty Hutton. And High Society, which, to be honest, I had forgotten he was in. Around that time I also caught Miss Tatlock's Millions, in which I found him hilarious. I liked this guy, wanted to see more of his movies. I also saw White Feather around this time. I also thought he was pretty funny in My Friend Irma, and My Friend Irma Goes West, but I wondered what he was doing in those two movies. Did he just do whatever the studio gave him to do? Because those films weren't really presenting him as the star he was supposed to have been at the time.

I think the only other films of his I've seen are The Mating Season, Five Guns West (?), Roger Corman's first movie, Duchess of Idaho, and my two favorites, No Man Of Her Own, and A Foreign Affair.

I've read what I could about him, but there isn't much. The recent book of Charles Brackett's diaries, It's The Pictures That Got Small, has a few things about him. I've read he became a successful businessman after leaving the movies. Any idea what that business was?

4:38 PM  
Blogger Maricatrin said...

After having lost internet access for a few days, I'm glad to be catching up on your latest reviews!

Pretty much in agreement here... nothing much else to say. Except it was easier to watch than WE GO FAST, which was *really* for completists (lol).

I haven't seen STEEL TOWN yet myself, though I think I may have been the one to send you that title as well... and yes, my memory isn't what it used to be!

6:47 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Thanks so much for the comments! Was caught up in a work crunch late last week so I'm catching up this weekend. :)

DV H, I enjoyed your thoughts on John Lund. I have yet to see MY FRIEND IRMA or MISS TATLOCK'S MILLIONS and look forward to it! I recommend NIGHT HAS A THOUSAND EYES, which unfortunately is not on DVD although a beautiful restored 35mm print has been shown by the Film Noir Foundation at their festivals.

Maricatrin, sorry to hear you couldn't get online for a few days, welcome back! Interested to read your confirming comments. You did indeed send me STEEL TOWN, hope we'll each find it a stronger film. A good cast with Lund, Ann Sheridan, and Howard Duff, plus director George Sherman.

Best wishes,

9:23 AM  
Blogger dv h said...

Thanks, Laura.

7:15 PM  
Blogger abe78765 said...

I've been on the lookout to purchase "Affair in Reno." Laura, you mention Maricatrin. Did you buy a copy from him? I should be asking him but I can't figure out how to contact him on his website.



P.S. Can you answer here. I don't visit my Yahoo email very much.

12:14 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Hi Abe78765,

No, I'm afraid it's not for sale, I didn't buy it. Hopefully it will be available one day!

Best wishes,

10:59 AM  

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