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Rancho Notorious (1952)

Approved | | Western | 19 September 1952 (Finland)
After the murder of his fiancée, a Wyoming ranch hand sets out to find her killer.

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(screenplay), (original story)
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Cast

Complete credited cast:
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...
...
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Beth Forbes
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Baldy Gunder
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Maxine
John Raven ...
Chuck-a-Luck Dealer
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Mort Geary
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Harbin
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Comanche Paul
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...
Rio (as Rodric Redwing)
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

Where anything goes...for a price! See more »

Genres:

Western

Certificate:

Approved | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

19 September 1952 (Finland)  »

Also Known As:

Chuck-a-Luck  »

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Box Office

Budget:

$900,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Color:

(Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Director Fritz Lang had originally planned to call this film "Chuck-a-Luck". However, studio head Howard Hughes insisted that its name be changed to "Rancho Notorious" and when Lang asked why, he was told that it was because non-Americans (Europeans) 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 »

Goofs

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 »

Quotes

Vern Haskell: [the sheriff has three crooked politicians locked in one cell and Mel Ferrar locked in another cell. Arthur Kennedy is asked which cell he wants to be in. He chooses the cell with Mel Ferrar] Sure, give me an outlaw to these thieves anytime. At least he takes his chances in the open.
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Connections

Referenced in Les cinéphiles - Le retour de Jean (1989) See more »

Soundtracks

Get Away Young Man
Music and Lyrics by Ken Darby
Sung by Marlene Dietrich (uncredited)
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User Reviews

 
Great pulp Western by the great Fritz Lang
3 May 2002 | by See all my reviews

Rancho Notorious is a gorgeous film, with beautiful Technicolor cinematography. It almost reaches the poetry of a John Ford film, or a great film noir, but falls just a little short. Arthur Kennedy plays Vern, a rancher whose fiancee is brutally raped and murdered. He goes out for revenge, following the clues. He ends up at Rancho Notorious, a hideout for outlaws run by Alder Keane, played wonderfully by Marlene Dietrich in one of her most memorable roles. She's fully in her philosophical mode here, like she was in Touch of Evil a few years later. She's so sad, so beautiful. She also has a great musical number. Mel Ferrer is also quite good as Frenchie Fairmont, a lethal cowboy who loves Alder. There are also a lot of great supporting actors playing colorful villains, especially George Reeves (T.V.'s Superman).

The story is quite great. There are a couple of problems with characterizations, especially Vern. He's mostly great. He's mostly a noir hero, flawed in his own right but always believing that he's on an entirely moral quest. The film goes wrong when he becomes the romantic hero. He's too creepy. Dietrich simply dominates him. Mel Ferrer fairs much better in that way. The climactic sequence also disappoints. The other major flaw is that damn theme song. Rancho Notorious is pulp, it's very over-the-top, but that goofy song would make anybody laugh. Also, the name Chuck-a-Luck inspired a lot of laughs in the audience (I was lucky enough to see it at a theater).

Overall, though, Rancho Notorious is a great film, quite haunting in its own right. It's one of Lang's best, by my reckoning, up there with Fury and M. 9/10.


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