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Rancho Notorious (1952)

Approved | | Western | March 1952 (USA)
In Wyoming, when his fiancee is murdered, ranch hand Vern Haskell pursues the killers, first with a posse, then by himself, to an outlaw hideout ranch called Chuck-a-Luck.



(screenplay), (original story)

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Complete credited cast:
Vern Haskell
Beth Forbes
Baldy Gunder
John Raven ...
Chuck-a-Luck Dealer
Mort Geary
Dan Seymour ...
Comanche Paul
John Kellogg ...
Jeff Factor
Rio (as Rodric Redwing)


A western based on the story "Gunsight Whitman" by Silvia Richards. Vern Haskell, a nice rancher, seeks out to avenge his fiancé's death when she is killed during a robbery. His revenge leads him to Chuck-a-luck, Altar Keane's ranch set up to hide criminals, and he finds more than he bargains for. Written by Andre'a M. Thompson <athompso@ziggy.st.hmc.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Mistress of the West's strangest hideout... a ranch where anything goes! This woman lives... and rules... in a daring way all her own! See more »




Approved | See all certifications »




Release Date:

March 1952 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Chuck-a-Luck  »

Box Office


$900,000 (estimated)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)



Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Fritz Lang had originally planned to call this film "Chuck-a-Luck". However, the studio insisted that its name be changed to "Rancho Notorious" and when Lang asked why, he was told that it was because Americans wouldn't understand what "Chuck-a-Luck" (a gambling game commonly played in saloons in the Southwest) meant. Lang replied, "Well, it's a good thing that they all know what 'Rancho Notorious' [which has nothing to do with anything in the film] means!" See more »


When Altar and Frenchy argue about her going away, the close up shows them with shoulders in parallel. After the cut to medium, her left shoulder is instantly pressed against his chest. See more »


Altar Keane: Go away and come back ten years ago.
See more »


Referenced in Marlene (1984) See more »


Legend of Chuck-A-Luck
Music and Lyrics by Ken Darby
Ballad Sung by Bill Lee (as William Lee)
See more »

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User Reviews

An under-valued classic
28 February 2006 | by (Derry, Ireland) – See all my reviews

Fritz Lang's superlative western teeters dangerously on the edge of campness, (it's that infernal 'Legend of Chuck-a-Luck' ballad pounding away on the soundtrack, continually reminding us that this is a tale of 'hate ... murder and revenge'). Then, of course, there is that great gay icon Marlene Dietrich, looking extraordinary at fifty one as Altar Keane, boss of the outlaw hideout Chuck-a-Luck where Arthur Kennedy comes seeking the man who killed his girl in a robbery. In many respects the film is a perfect companion to Nicholas Ray's not dissimilar "Johnny Guitar", made around the same time and both featuring dominant women and weaker men and both dealing explicitly with 'hate, murder and revenge'.

This is a very tight piece of work, thematically dense and psychologically astute and directed by Lang in a truly classical style. It affords all the pleasures that a really good western should while still falling perfectly within a milieu recognizable from many of Lang's American works. "Johnny Guitar's" veiled lesbianism together with Nicholas Ray's growing reputation may have given it the edge but this, too, is a remarkable film, an essential work by one of the cinema's greatest directors.

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