Mae Doyle comes back to her hometown a cynical woman. Her brother Joe fears that his love, fish cannery worker Peggy, may wind up like Mae. Mae marries Jerry and has a baby; she is happy but restless, drawn to Jerry's friend Earl.
A German architect runs away with the maharajah of Eschnapur's fiancee but is caught and thrown in the dungeon, while his relatives arrive from Europe looking for him and the maharajah's brother is scheming to usurp the throne.
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 <email@example.com>
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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