Rancho Notorious - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

Rancho Notorious Reviews

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½ December 14, 2016
Few directors know how to use Marlene Dietrich as well as the iconoclastic Josef Von Sternberg (who famously collaborated with the actress an astonishing seven times), so odd it is that Fritz Lang emphasizes her assets, both physical and artistic, gloriously in otherwise routine Western romp "Rancho Notorious" (1952).
The film, arguably working as filler for a filmmaker usually on the more aspirational side of the cinematic spectrum, stars the sympathetic Arthur Kennedy as Vern Haskell, a man driven by revenge after his fiancee (Gloria Henry) is brutally killed in the midst of a store robbery. To his luck, Vern finds one of the men shot in the back by his accomplice fairly early within the limits of the movie's introduction. Problem is is that the only clue to the second perpetrator's identity is his partner in crime's dying words, which are, initially indecipherably, "Chuck-a-luck."
Following a long bout of hazy investigation is it finally revealed that all is connected to an illicit horse ranch run by the slinky Altar Keane (Dietrich), a former saloon singer that went from object to business owner after a coincidental win in a life-or-death Chuck-a-luck game. The hideout serving as the place of living for a number of diverse outlaws mapping out their next moves, it only makes sense for Vern to spot the man he's looking for within minutes of becoming another one of Altar's scuzzy guests. But when a love triangle between Vern, Altar, and gunslinger Frenchy Fairmont (Mel Ferrer) flavors the already tense environment in a shady move by Vern to get closer to the culprit he's so desperately seeking, stakes become higher and outcomes become less obvious.
At times taking on the tone of a detective movie - in no doubt is Vern's scrutinization of the situation at the forefront of the film like something of a weirdly effective Western noir - "Rancho Notorious" is novel but painlessly fun, a colorful lark so pleasantly escapist it perhaps turns the making of a popcorn movie into an art. Its sets are unabashedly economic and its performances are more two-dimensionally sufficient than they are impactful, but we wouldn't expect anything less from a movie so concerned with our having a good time. Important is our getting lost in the world that is its Technicolored, romantically dangerous Wyoming, and Lang knows enough about theatrical transportation better than anyone.
But, of course, "Rancho Notorious" wouldn't be such a remarkable picture without Dietrich. A robust fifty-one and at her most beautiful, Dietrich uses her schtick like a weapon. At this point in her career had the actress played dozens of powerful, almost melodramatically exotic bombshells, but Lang uses her in such a way that feels natural rather than forced - in her worst vehicles does she appear as a fish out of water, a slab of shlock placed where she doesn't necessarily belong. But everything about Dietrich's Altar Keane is just about right. Coy, formidable, and certainly able to drink with the boys, her performance is among her most memorable; she's in command of her powers and is noticeably enjoying herself. In a film wherein her leading men can hardly hold a candle to her impressively angled features, that's a hell of a good thing.
September 20, 2016
Fair revenge western, but not too sure why two or three songs pop up amongst proceedings as their not needed and feel strange.
October 18, 2015
A very entertaining somewhat tacky Western that is simply a lot of fun & as well as well plotted Revenge Film.

Picks up straight after a rape/murder of a woman in Wyoming & a cowboy desperate to find answers. All he seems to know is a mystery location & a woman of ill repute.

Marlene Dietrich gives a stellar performance as the Boss Lady. Filled with a wonderful corny theme song & genuine good storytelling. A charming western that's well worth the time.
August 25, 2015
150825: 35 of top 50.
January 16, 2014
Great pulp Western by the great Fritz Lang--Off-beat tale of hate, murder, and revenge!!
½ August 27, 2013
Not bad for what they had to work with. It was an oddly musical western with the chuck a luck song keeping the beat. I almost stopped watching, but a thickening in the plot and I couldn't stop. It might be the youngest jack elam I've seen. Dietrich had her moments and Ferrer had a good presence, Kennedy was good but a little forced.
½ August 4, 2013
Some reviews I read of this criticized Arthur Kennedy as Vern, but I found him compelling. I won't give away the story, but he reminded me of Glenn Ford in the Big Heat. Marlene was awesome as always. Mel Ferrer was wooden and uninteresting, only slightly less annoying than the theme song. Had Stubby & Nat been around to sing this one it might have been better.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
½ July 30, 2013
Good western with a most unexpected leading lady. Predating Johnny Guitar by two years this film echoes that with its female lead being the ringleader of a tough mob but doesn't have that movies atmosphere or strong female counterpart. What it does have is Marlene holding center stage as only she could and a pair of capable costars in Mel Ferrer and the always terrific Arthur Kennedy..
January 3, 2013
Never my favorite Lang but I suspect I need to see it a few times more. It's dense and peculiar.
July 8, 2012
There aren't many films that so accurately distill the corrosive effects of revenge as this 'Jungian' Western.
½ March 6, 2012
Highly entertaining western by legendary director Fritz Lang in which a rancher (Arthur Kennedy) loses his fiancée (Gloria Henry) in bank heist to vicious outlaw (Mel Ferrer), along with an accompanying associate. He seeks to hunt these two thieves, only learning the associate has been murdered by his partner, for which his dying words reveal the name of the murderous criminal. The rancher also discovers that a woman (Marlene Dietrich), a saloon singer, is associated closely with the vicious murder. As westerns from the 1950's go, this one is very underrated. It fun, beautifully filmed, and well-acted, especially by Dietrich. It also ends with an exciting and tragic shootout. Definitely worth the watch, even if it really silly. Certainly a difference compared to Lang's next year's release "The Big Heat." In addition, the smart part of William Frawley is also hilarious (he was filming "I Love Lucy" at the time).
January 27, 2012
Western meio esquecido à (C) tambà (C)m um poço de virtudes: fabuloso arranque sem merdas, um enredo em que nenhum cowboy parece especialmente bonzinho, duas mãos cheias de lines altamente citáveis, um showdown de fazer tremer, uma Marlene Dietrich a mostrar porque merece o estatuto de lenda. Dizem que não havia muito dinheiro para fazer o filme, mas os baixos valores de produção dão-lhe atà (C) algum charme (gosto muito de paisagens pouco convincentes como background). Vale muito a pena. Chuck-a-luck. 4/5
½ December 16, 2011
Arthur Kennedy is out for revenge (not an atypical Western theme) after his gal is raped and murdered (as usual Fritz Lang doesn't pull his punches). His epic search eventually takes him to Marlene Dietrich's hidden ranch where crims hide out with no questions asked. Of course, one of them is his man. But will Marlene (aged 50 with a tawdry past) become his girl? Not as tough or realistically outside as the Anthony Mann Westerns filmed about the same time but still engaging.
½ October 31, 2011
The best of Fritz Lang's three American Technicolor westerns, with Dietrich as a tough show girl fronting a hideout for bandits. When revenge-filled Arthur Kennedy shows up with Mel Ferrer, looking for the murderer of his fiance, a love triangle ensues, and a few punch ups and gun fights.
September 2, 2011
Whenever Marlene wears pants in a film, I automatically give it three stars. I give three stars as well for the wonderfully annoying song about Hate Murder and Revenge! Does that make this a six star film? How about it being a decent middling Fritz Lang flick, three stars? Nine? This is the best film ever!
August 28, 2011
Tan moralmente ambivalente como la época lo permitía. Y con una Marlene Dietrich que se lleva todo por delante, en un personaje no es ninguna muñequita de western. El detalle simpático es que la trama es narrada por las letras de una balada, que desafortunadamente nunca usa el gancho 'not-not-not-notorious'. Y Marlene Dietrich nunca muestra las gambas, como promete el afiche, pero nadie se quejó.
½ July 2, 2011
A noir-ish Western with Marlene Dietrich, a rogues' gallery and "hate, murder...and revenge!" Also Jack Elam, George Reeves, Mel Ferrer and Fuzzy Knight.
March 20, 2011
L'Ange des maudits en VF. Une ressortie dâ(TM)un des rares westerns de Fritz Lang. On voit bien que ce nâ(TM)est pas son genre de prà (C)dilection car le film utilise pas mal des mà (C)canismes du polar (enquête, huis clos, femme fatale, etc).
rubystevens
Super Reviewer
½ October 20, 2010
it's not a bad film but it's not as much fun as destry rides again or the very similarly themed johnny guitar. also that 'chuck-a-luck' song got really annoying. i like arthur kennedy alright but he's a bit blah here and at 51 marlene is pushing it. i guess i just expected more from lang. obviously westerns weren't his strong suit
March 9, 2010
60/100. You would think the combination of Lang and Marlene Dietrich would be amazing, but this is my fourth viewing of the film over a 35 year period, and not once was I impressed with this movie. The score is a little overbearing and it just rarely rises above an ordinary western from the 1950's. I was disappointed in the art direction, the sets looked very obvious to me. It's a fair story given an okay treatment. I am in the minority on this one, but the film to me went from one cliche to another. Arthur Kennedy is a bland choice and lacks the fire needed for the role. Certainly it has some good visuals, so at least one of Fritz Lang's trademark touches came through.
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